I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Power pellets. Denard as envisioned by BHGP:
They also envision a Pacman board with no pellets and something like 20 Hawkeyes, but they are #4 in total defense so they may be entitled to some cockiness. Also their version of Denard is gritty.
Trick or treat. Wolverine Historian has assembled a set of trick plays over the past 20 or so years:
I'm surprised that transcontinental worked as much as it did since Michigan ran it from the same goofy formation they never ran anything else from for 20 years.
The Demensing. It is apparently happening. Kenny Demens, who you could be forgiven for thinking had the first name "TheEnigmatic," is mere days away from actually playing:
"In the last game, we played quite a few in the secondary and a few guys up front, but we didn't rotate a lot of guys at linebacker, and that's something we have to look at this week."
Rodriguez said he expects to see Kenny Demens, J.B. Fitzgerald and Mark Moundros in the mix a bit more against the Hawkeyes.
"Particularly if they have a good week in practice," Rodriguez said. "Kenny Demens in particular has had some real good practices and has shown some pretty good things when he's had an opportunity out there. So it looks like they've warranted the opportunity to see what they can do in the game."
One of these two things will happen when Demens gets on the field:
- he is obviously better than Ezeh and everyone wonders WTF is with the Michigan coaches' talent identification skills, or
- he isn't obviously better and everyone wonders WTF is with the Michigan coaches' development skills.
I'll take option one, please. If Demens can come in and be person with clue at MLB Michigan might be able to bridge this gap between the currently devastated upperclass linebacking corps and the guys who will come in this year and next without resorting to true freshmen. A novel concept, yes.
FWIW, People have been talking up Demens's abilities in run defense and criticizing his coverage. I haven't seen much either way. The reports of excellent play in the spring game didn't come from me; even when I watched the tape I didn't see much good or bad from him.
In other bits from the RR teleconference, the chance that Odoms returns this year is "slim."
Basketball recruiting pointers. Alf goes here because Dom Pointer, a 6'5" 2011 wing who is Michigan's primary target to fill their last slot in the upcoming recruiting class, is coming in this weekend. He can dunk some. According to Sam Webb he's just dropped West Virginia, a rumored favorite, and will decide between Michigan and St. John's. His parents are in one corner:
"I really, really like the staff and the people of St. John's. I was really impressed with all of them, but they are not Michigan. Me and his mama — that's how we feel. But if he really feels that strongly about St. John's, I'm not going to kill him. I'm going to be mad at him, but I've got to stand next to him. The way he made the U-turn and changed his life, what can I say? Yeah, I'm a Michigan fan. I'm Michigan all day long, but if I got a kid that made a total U-turn with his whole life, I can't criticize him about making his choice if it's St. John's."
Webb's stopped short of offering up the gut feeling that indicates a silent commitment but Michigan is in a strong position here. With Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge in the fold Michigan would have three consensus top 100 players if Pointer committed, with two of them brushing up against the top 50 in ESPN's rankings.
FWIW, ESPN was the service highest on Tim Hardaway, Jr., and that prediction looks like it will bear fruit as early as this year. Scuttlebutt from practice suggests he might be the team's best player, which is bad for this year but may be good down the road. This could be a good team in 2012. Yeah.
THIS MAN LIVES IN A HOUSE. What a country!
This person currently has a home. They may be borrowing it, or living with their parents, or squatting like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, but there is still something between him and rain. What recession? Srsly. Find me a recession after watching a guy sing
"You can get yourself drunk//you can tailgate//you can bring your daaaaate!"
on the internet. You can't anymore. Go America. Anywhere else, even Canada, and this guy would be used in a government-sponsored human beef jerky project.
Usual complaint about midline and lack thereof, backed by Smart Football highlight its effectiveness this weekend in the Purdue-Northwestern game, which Purdue won despite getting less than 50 yards passing from Rob Henry:
“We knew they were going to run the quarterback; how they were going to run him we had to adjust to,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They changed up their scheme a little bit, and were reading our tackles as opposed to our defensive ends. There were times when we fit it very well, and there were times when we didn’t.”
It's not magic or anything but one of the things that Juice Williams murdered us on (other than everything) was the midline, and using it periodically should increase the effectiveness of the running game. If it can get Dayne Crist 20-yard gains what can Denard do with it?
The thing that makes me want to run it more than anything is that it prevents teams from doing what Michigan State did. They left a defensive end in contain all day, which should be a win for your offense but Michigan's tailbacks are not very dynamic. Our Helmets Have Wings notes that after the first three drives Michigan ran zone read plays twice(!). The game situation had something to do with that, but so did that Vincent Smith third and one stuff.
Here is an opportunity to eliminate a player with an option read and get Denard in space.
Captain Renault. So let's say you're an unemployed Cleveland man who spends two months constructing an igloo instead of, you know, attempting to find a job. What would be totally bitchin' for the wall of your igloo?
Score one for baseless internet speculation. According to Greg Banks, the internet-wide speculation about a Ryan Van Bergen position move is on the nose:
Banks is one of a half dozen or so Wolverines who’ll play an expanded and slightly different role on Michigan’s defensive front this fall.
He said he expects Ryan Van Bergen to take over Graham’s pass-rushing defensive end spot - “I think that’s the plan,” he said - while he plays both end and tackle.
Birkett follows that up with an assertion that Mike Martin "could see time outside" if Will Campbell progresses. I assume that means three-tech DT, not defensive end, because that latter would be plain nuts. To reiterate: the move is the best bet for Michigan to have an excellent defensive line next year. RVB isn't going to be Brandon Graham but he's far better than the alternatives and moving Mike Martin to three-tech will get him one-on-one with guards he's faster than, potentially paving the way for a ton of TFLs. He'll be more effective there, and NT should be decent with the Sagesse/Campbell platoon.
For his part, Banks is up to 278 pounds, 15 or so up from last year. LaLota also comes in for some praise, but I'm betting serious playing time for him is another year off.
Vincent Smith, meanwhile, is already jogging and should have no problems returning in time for fall practice.
And then they do nothing. Internet speculation has gone from "maybe the Big Ten will add Pitt" to "in ten years only four conferences will exist and football will be played by sexy robots." I'm not sure whether this Barking Carnival post positing a 14-team Big Ten, here previously deemed completely infeasible and then met with a crazy semi-relegation proposal*, is genius or mad. Or possibly both. Check the rationale here:
Powers knows that the Big 10 universities compete individually and as a region for its fair share of the federal R&D pie and that, despite the greatness of its member universities, the Big 10 region has not faired nearly as well as the coasts. Compared to numerous universities in California and Massachusetts, several of which don’t give a second thought about college football (MIT, Cal-Davis, Cal Tech, U of San Francisco, etc), there is a rather dramatic concentration of academic R&D that is not favorable to the Midwest or Southwest. Point being, there is room for growth here, and adding two powerful Senators from Texas to the sixteen Senators representing Big 10 states is not an insignificant addition. Without Texas, the CIC universities represent the best of the rust belt. With Texas, the CIC represents the best of the middle of the country.
Wha? I'm not sure how much I buy the idea that heartland universities will have a bigger lobbying block if they're all in the same conference. The CIC happens to have all Big Ten schools and Chicago, but is it really necessary to bring along Texas's athletic programs—not like that would exactly be a downside, though—to invite them to join the CIC? It's not like the Big 12 has any leverage over the Longhorns.
Elsewhere, 14 teams i the new 11 teams. and people are coalescing around a 16-team uber conference that comes with NCAA secession. Andy Staples's version may or may not be sarcastic, but I've seen plenty of other speculation to that effect. Most of it is Bleacher Report quality and not worth linking or anything, but it's out there.
To reiterate my previously expressed stance: a college football "conference" that has more than 12 teams isn't really a conference unless it adds promotion and relegation. Static divisions are separate conferences with a weird scheduling agreement and a wildly unbalanced schedule. It would be logistically terrible.
At this point it would be fantastic if no one did anything. Too bad Tradesports imploded.
BONUS. I don't remember where I saw this, but I believe it was some random message board: if the Big Ten comes down from on high with an end result that seriously damages the Big East, isn't the Big East's best move booting Notre Dame in an attempt to force the Irish into the Big Ten? If ND was cut loose by the Big East all their other sports (save hockey) would be adrift with basically nowhere to go. At that point ND might have to swallow hard and join up.
*(Which a commenter pointed out is mathematically impossible for the same reason you can't play nine conference games in an eleven-team conference. Shame.)
Etc.: Help this pickle get more fans than Nickelback. The second half of the recruiting podcast in which I do my best Mel Kiper. Michigan's putting on a camp thing on the 28th at Newsterbaan, plugging the presence of Rivals and Scout. Seems like a clever move to get an early camp experience, maybe unearth an instate prospect or three.
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.
Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.
Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":
In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.
FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.
Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:
Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.
I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:
"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."
I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.
(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)
The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:
When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”
That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.
The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:
His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …
"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."
Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.
Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:
"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "
This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.
Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:
HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.
I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:
Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.
“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”
Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.
Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:
For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.
Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.
Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.
Blather about "true running style": inane.
Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?
Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:
The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.
Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:
A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.
This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.
Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.
Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.