the season has truly begun now
I was recently in a debate over the Rich Rodriguez hire in which my opponent stated that the spread offense has to have too many top tiered athletics in critical positions to work effectively, therefore believing Rich Rodriguez was a terrible hire.
He went on to say that you need to have a star QB & RB, a quick offensive line, WRs that can not only catch but who can run fast, and once one of those positions are taken out of the equation, the whole offensive system is dead. What are your thoughts on this? I truly believe that Rich Rodriguez is not only great for Michigan, but could ultimately strengthen the Big Ten with his progressive style offense, which in my opinion is greatly needed right now. Michigan could have hired 15 different types of Bo Schembechler who would have kept tradition and powerhouse football intact, but they didn’t. They took a risk, and hired outside of the box. I thought I would get your opinion on the spread offense and the argument above.
Your friend appears to be making the argument that for an offense to be effective it has to have good players. I agree. The larger theory—that Rodriguez's offense is more dependent on massive levels of talent than your average pro-style thing—is counter-intuitive at best. Rodriguez developed the system at Glenville State, won with it at Tulane and Clemson and West Virginia, and until he had the Pat White-Steve Slaton terror combo there's no plausible argument you can make for the superiority of the talent at Rodriguez's disposal.
If there are concerns with the spread 'n' shred they go in the opposite direction: it's an offense that can make do with iffy performers at a lot of spots (WR, OL, FB, TE) because it basically ignores them, so when you've got the talent there it's not going to help you. And even that criticism is tough to apply when the near future of the QB position is some combination of Threet and Forcier, guys who aren't going to win games like Vince Young did.
I noticed that Bryce McNeal mentioned that Christianity was a factor in his decision to commit to Clemson. I also recall Shavodrick Beaver citing God as one reason that he ended up committing to Tulsa instead of Michigan. Do you think that Michigan under Rich Rodriguez has a 'Jesus deficit' in recruiting and if so, how big of a problem is this? Is it possible that in addition to being a secret-file shredder and snake oil purveyor that RR is also Muslim or, even worse, Catholic? For what it's worth, my sister-in-law's cousin sings in the same church choir as Les Miles' wife. She reports that Miles regularly attends services, even the morning after away games.
Recruits commit to schools for their own private reasons. When asked about them, they come up with any old thing they think will sound good: God, family, national championships. When the real reasons are "my girlfriend is going there" and "I am afraid of Tate Forcier" and "cash money, homes" they get replaced with God, family, and national championships. Beaver's quotes were especially grating because he'd been giving similar quotes about Michigan for a long time and he had decommitted in favor of a coach who had spent all of one freakin' year at Rice. (Malzahn's immediate departure for Auburn was karma.)
But there might be something in this God deficit theory. Michigan hasn't fared too well against Notre Dame of late despite the presence of the great green goblin, after all, and Tressel participated in some sort of football-player-sponsored revival meeting at Ohio State's old basketball arena a few years ago. Michigan is highly secular compared to its two main rivals.
That hurts with some with recruits, but it probably helps with some others who may not walk around wearing Darwin fish but also aren't too enthused about getting evangelized for four years.
Do you think the amount of verbal de-commits is more of a philosophical difference between the recruiting methods of RichRod vs. Lloyd?
Wouldn’t Lloyd take a verbal commit from a kid only if he was not going to visit anymore schools; whereas RichRod may let a kid verbal commit & still visit other schools?
Also, hard to take a commitment seriously if the kid is from out of state & hasn’t visited the school yet. The de-commits do not bother me as much when it is a kid from Texas, or Virginia, as opposed to Michigan, or Ohio – harder to sell a kid if he isn’t from Big Ten country.
There are a number of factors at work in Michigan's tide of decommitments:
- Kids are committing earlier and earlier and decommitments naturally rise. Nowadays a lot of kids are committing just to reserve a slot and then keeping their options open. I've heard that one Michigan decommit never had any intention of signing with Michigan and just used the commit for leverage, publicity, and offers.
- A 3-9 season can't help things, and…
- …neither can the tidal wave of negative publicity that accompanied Rodriguez's move from West Virginia and the accompany Boren hootenanny.
The geographical thing is a red herring. Michigan's decommits almost all came from the Midwest (McNeal, Barnes, Campbell if you count him) or re-committed to a school no closer to them (Newsome and Fera both picked Penn State).
Only Beaver's bizarre Tulsa defection and the presumed commitment of Peace to a Big 12 school really fit that pattern. Two of seven isn't exactly definitive. With both DT recruits other than Campbell on the fence, that percentage may rise, but not to the point where it's going to be a majority of the issue.
A story I thought you and your readers may enjoy:
At the beginning of the school year, someone in our house bought a fish tank. We added a few guppies to the tank, and decided to honor the new football season by naming one lucky guppy "Sam McGuppy."
Over break, Sam tragically died. (fitting, no?) However, there is a new season of Michigan sports underway. So, when we bought a replacement for Sam, we decided to name him "DeShawn Swims."
We all enjoy your blog, thanks.
Marco and Chris
Yes, these are my readers.
My Question: How many kids in the 2009 class could enroll early in January? I have read stories on a number of recruits (i.e. Shavodrick Beaver, Brandin Hawthorne, Vincent Smith, even Newsome before the decommit) claiming an intention to graduate early and head up to UM in January. Is there some limit on the number allowed?
Wouldn't it make sense for the coaches to pick and choose who should enroll early (QB, DE) based on needs? Thanks again and Go Blue!
Teams are only allowed to sign 25 players per recruiting class, but January enrollees are allowed to count in either the preceding class or the upcoming one. Beaver, for example, could count as a part of either the 2008 or 2009 recruiting classes should he choose to enroll early.
These days schools use this to dodge the limit when they have more than 25 to offer; there’s no real limit on the number of early enrollees permitted and no need to ration out spots. If the NCAA was strict about it, Michigan would have only one slot to offer for a January recruit because they signed 24 in last year’s class—25 if you count Morales, who probably would have grayshirted to get one of the QBs on campus ASAP if the rule was different. They are not strict.
As far as who plans to show early: Beaver, Forcier, Hawthorne, and Smith have all announced plans to do so. I don’t think anyone else has; commenters will no doubt correct me if I’m wrong.
As a Michigan fan that grew up in WV with a memory of Rodriguez going 3-8 his first season and people wanting him R-U-N-N-O-F-T, I have to say I thought I was prepared for the worst this season. But after that first game…YIKES.
Having said that, I wanted to get your thoughts in regards to recruiting under Rodriguez these first few years. This train of thought was prompted Forcier's on the spot commitment after watching UM lose to Utah. I have no doubt that he already feels competitive based on what he saw. There is a lot of talent on the field for Michigan (albeit raw) and RR seems to have a pretty decent 2009 class coming together.
My question is this: with the cupboard seemingly bare and so many young guys seeing action already (12 freshman in the first game) do you think it's possible that Michigan can still recruit the skill positions being played by FR/SO and be 2-3 deep within a year or two?
I am sure I'm taking this season in better stride compared to most UM fans only because I've seen RR stumble out of the gate before. However, I have every bit of faith in Rodriguez, too; because I have also seen him resurrect a hopelessly mediocre program as well. Still, I simply can't believe it will take him too long to stop the bleeding in the Big House.
Thanks, Lance (Richmond, VA)
There are some issues in recruiting, but not at the offensive skill positions. Last year they brought in three running backs and four receivers, plus two tight ends. This year has two quarterbacks, three running backs, and three receivers so far; five and a half of those guys are highly rated (Forcier, Beaver, Toussaint, McNeal, Gallon, and Teric Jones is the half). If anything, people have been looking at Rodriguez’s recruiting of little half-pint guys and wondering if he’s always wanted to adopt a little African kid—or a dozen of them—but for the paperwork.
Plus, next year Michigan gets lucky. There are two highly touted instate dual-threat quarterbacks, one at traditional Michigan feeder OLSM. Fred Jackson’s kid is a monster WR prospect with offers from Texas and Florida (and Michigan), and there’s another guy in Florida named Ricardo Miller who has some impressive early offers that most are writing off to Michigan. This puts them well ahead of the curve.
The concerns are more at OL (somewhat), DE (major), and a slight lack of big time kids on D. There will be skill guys galore as soon as next year.
Oh, and Lance also notes:
Just one more thing you might know that I stumbled across recently: USC lost to Utah during Pete Carroll's first season.
I know we are in the midst of football season, but I came across this article and am curious why eeeeeeeeBarwis will not be working with the basketball team. I played small time D1 athletics and even our S&C coaches split up the teams, so I understand even Barwis cannot work with each team, but I was just curious as to why Beilein won’t use Barwis.
On another note – I’d like to formally request that Blessed Be His Name become an official mgoblog acronym attached to Michigan players (or even John Cooper) that have stood the test of time and to this day are still heroes in your mind (Charles Woodson BBHN). The list could turn into the opposite of the ‘On Notice’ board if an official list is developed.
Suggestion noted and may or may not go anywhere. As far as Barwis and the basketball team: as you note, S&C is a job that’s often too big for one guy or one set of guys. I’m sure Beilein has the utmost respect for Barwis but given the choice between Barwis when he’s not working on football and a full time guy, you go with the full time guy.
You do so especially when you can hire someone directly off the Memphis Grizzlies staff. When kids come in and you can point to a guy who’s worked in the same capacity in the NBA, that has to help recruiting.
Maybe I missed something in an earlier post, but I'm still a little confused on the TV deal.
I live in Florida. My local ABC just announced they are carrying USC/UVA at 3:30pm. Since Big Ten is not on Gameplan anymore, and Big Ten Network has "postgame Saturday" scheduled at 3:30pm... where will I see Utah/UM?
Go Blue, Scott
I think I’m going to answer this question every year for the rest of my life: if the Utah game isn’t on ABC in your region it will be on ESPN2. The Big Ten’s contract with ABC/ESPN has a “reverse mirroring” clause that guarantees every Big Ten game on ABC regional will be shown on ESPN or ESPN2 in areas that receive another ABC game.
If it’s not on ABC, it’s on ESPN2. Repeat 100x times.
On a similar note:
I am a recent UM grad currently working in Japan in desperate need of watching Wolverine football. What is the best option for watching the game over the internet? Is there a service I can pay to stream the game?
Also, do you know of any sports bars that show the game. I am about 5 hours from Tokyo which seems like the most viable option; however, this weekend I have plans to be in Nagoya (relatively large city) to try to find the game at 1 AM.
Do you have any insights into these viewing option?
Thanks for the expertise.
We’re probably a few years away from reputable live streaming on the internet, so your options are threefold:
- Try to figure out this sopcast thing and hope the guy streaming it doesn’t change the channel randomly. Probably no good.
- Get a buddy in the States to set up a Slingbox for you. (Wikipedia)
- Download the game from MGoVideo.
Sopcast is fraught with peril and I would avoid it if possible. The slingbox is immediate and reliable, but quality isn’t always top notch. MGoVideo is free and will have high quality copies of the game but you’ll have to wait a day or two before you can get your greasy mitts on it. If it’s that important to you, I’d just shell out the 200 bucks for the Slingbox.
As for Tokyo UM bars, I’ll throw that open to the peanut gallery. Any ideas?
So great - the BTN gets more money to Big Ten schools. Unfortunately I think the net result of this is actually problematic.
While the BTN may now be readily available to those within the conference footprint, our fans and (more importantly) recruits happen to live other places as well. Yes, I'm annoyed that living in Tampa means I still have to go to the bar and sit amongst the SEC d-bags to take in a BTN game. But what about recruiting? Does the extra million(s) that our school receives make up for the lack of national exposure to recruits? Even if the BTN does eventually become a national network, how many southern kids are actually going to tune in to watch it? They will instead be flipping back and forth between CBS & ESPN to catch all the SEC football their little mulleted hearts desire.
In the long term, the BTN could end up putting Michigan and other Big Ten schools at an even greater recruiting disadvantage than they are at already. And due to the fact that university presidents will continue to side with the BTN because of how much money they are receiving from it, the chances of this changing any time soon are slim.
Personally, I'd rather have less access if it means better recruiting for my team...better to watch a good team some of the time than a bad team all of the time.
Any effect like this is likely to be minor. The bulk of the Big Ten Network’s games are the kind of things that would have been on ESPN+ syndication before. Recruits outside the BTN footprint weren’t getting those games anyway.
There is an occasional hit for Michigan when the BTN has a second pick week and grabs a game like Purdue, but that’s going to be a once a year occurrence that will probably be offset by a Michigan game that would otherwise hit syndication being dragged onto ESPN because the BTN grabbed a different game.
Meanwhile, the extra money the network brings in will allow Michigan to install personal butler robots or whatever in the locker room. And everyone knows butler robots bring in the recruits.
Spurred by the recent AP preseason poll, from which Michigan is absent for the first time I could remember, I checked out historical AP pre- and post-season polls (appollarchive.com).
I am sure you and many of your readers already know the following, but it was eye-opening for me: Only twice before in the modern era (1969-present) has Michigan gone into the season unranked in the AP poll. The first was 1969( Bo's first year) and we all know how that turned out--a stunning turn around with Michigan finishing ranked 9th highlighted by a huge upset win over Ohio State. The second time Michigan entered a season unranked was 1985, a campaign that saw them go 10-1-1, winning the Big Ten, beating Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing ranked second.
So apparently Michigan has a grand history of defying the polls --underperforming when ranked highly and outperforming when unranked. My question is whether you think this year will follow the script? I firmly believe Michigan will finished ranked, but am I being utterly delusional when I daydream about a top ten finish, beating Ohio State and/or winning a bowl in the process?
Can't wait for Aug 30th!
~Jim in Kalamazoo
Excellent research there, but… uh, no, I don’t think that’ll follow the script. 1985 was an anomalous year because it came immediately after the 6-6 1984 season, but said 6-6 season was poor mostly because Jim Harbaugh was injured. Once that was no longer an issue, Michigan resumed its usual ways. And in 1969 Michigan wasn’t that great, going 8-3 in an era of college football more easily dominated by the big schools.
A lot more teams are serious nowadays and the team is significantly smaller due to scholarship restrictions and thus less able to absorb the sort of attrition that Bo and, to a lesser extent, Rodriguez unleashed. My advice is to keep your expectations manageable and be pleasantly surprised if they’re exceeded.
You might this interesting....this morning I typed into google "third holiest site judaism," and the first hit is Zingerman's in Ann Arbor.
(I was trying to find more information about Rachel's tomb)
I know everyone has been panicking about DE recruiting, but I'm wondering if the coaching staff might have a different plan. We've recruited 3 people who can or most likely will play LB ( Mike Jones, Bell, Barnes) and are expected to land a commitment from Brandin Hawthorne, another LB. It would seem weird to bring in all these linebackers after numerous LB recruits we pulled in last year, but it got me wondering: what if we are going to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base front? This could explain the lack of DE recruiting and the large amount of LBs we've gotten. Michigan can pull in just one DE and be done for the class, instead of 2-3 DEs that everyone is praying for. I'm curious what you think about this, and is 3-4 used in college, and if so, what's it's pros and cons?
BSE Electrical Engineering
University of Michigan '05
I don't believe this is the idea. Scott Shafer is an avowed fan of the 4-3 and has repeatedly stated his intent to use it, and not the 3-3-5 stack Jeff Casteel deployed at West Virginia, as his base set. In some more recent interviews, Shafer's talked about how quickly Michigan's picked up the scheme and his intent to be a "multiple front" defense, but the 4-3 is and likely will be the base going forward.
This probably makes the most sense given the personnel, too. In the 3-4 you're supposed to have one honkin' nose guard who will absorb two blockers on every play and two "defensive ends" who are 270-280 pound guys closer to three-technique DTs than true DEs. During Michigan's one-year experiment with the 3-4 in 2004, Larry Harrison and Pat Massey -- two guys who were 4-3 DTs --were the ends. The traditional defensive end sorts often end up as outside linebackers, like Lamarr Woodley did in '04 (and is now with the Steelers). I don't think the move actually lessens the need for DE sorts, it just changes where they're deployed. But I'm not intimately familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of the 3-4. (Maybe GSimmons85 will bless us with a breakdown?)
I do know it's extremely rare in college. AFAIK, no Big Ten teams use it as a base set, and I don't recall any in outlying territories that do so regularly, either. Michigan did see a number of 4-3 teams revamp their defense into a 3-4 look designed to stop the zone read (Iowa and USC most prominelty), but those were one-game adjustments only. The big exception: Notre Dame, which adopted the 3-4 when Corwin Brown became defensive coordinator. It's early, but the results weren't inspiring.
Meanwhile in the NFL, the 3-4 has spread from the Steelers to a goodly portion of the league. Why are colleges lagging? I don't know but theorize that the defense requires the sort of athletes college teams can't get their hands on with enough regularity to make it a consistent winner.
Brian- What do you think of the possibility of Brown taking Feagin's snaps and have Feagin red-shirt? If Feagin isn't going to be all that great of an option, what would be the point? (Unless you want to have both of them in the backfield, which could be frightening I suppose.)
I guess what my question boils down to is, what do you think of Brown actually taking snaps as a QB?
Brown at QB is strictly a Wildcat thing, IMO. He's playing McFadden.
On Feagin: Rodriguez made it clear in his last press conference that Feagin was not making the impression he needed to if he was going to be a candidate for serious playing time, but conflicting reports from practice indicate the coaching staff still has hopes of working him in midseason. I take this as a vote of no confidence in the current QB starters, or at least an acknowledgement that it's going to be rough at times and once Feagin gets acclimated they'll have to give him a shot just to see.
I do take your point, though: if Feagin just can't throw enough to make defenses respect him as a quarterback, you're basically running the Wildcat and you may as well do that with Brown. That way you can maybe redshirt Feagin, see how he does when Beaver and Newsome arrive in the fall, and move him to one of the positions LSU and Miami saw fit to offer him at.
This is not likely to happen, IMO, as Michigan will put Feagin on the field at some point just in case. It's hard to argue with that thinking, as anything that helps the Rodriguez era get off on the right foot will greatly aid recruiting. Expect Feagin to see the field unless one of the two guys in front of him is unexpectedly effective.
Speaking of the Wildcat:
I tend to believe that Michigan's offense, given the QB limitations this year, stylistically is going to look like some combination of Northwestern(base)/Missouri(TE use)/Arkansas(Wildhog). My question, what percentage of the plays run at Arkansas were run out of the Wildhog formation? Is there a quick answer out there?
Robert W. Petti
Unfortunately, there is no UFR-equivalent for Hog fans and no handy compendium of how often the Wildcat was deployed. I dug up a couple things, though. In Arkansas' ridiculous upset win over LSU, it was the majority of the Razorback offense:
Arkansas ran the Wild Hog formation 31 times for 294 total yards and four touchdowns - 11 times for 67 yards and one score in the first half, 15 times for 216 yards and three end zone celebrations in the second half, and five times for 11 yards over three overtimes. The Wild Hog accounted for 57 percent of the Razorbacks' 513 total yards of offense and four of UA's seven touchdowns.
Arkansas had 77 snaps in that game.
In the bowl game it was less prominent:
• When lining up in the Wild Hog formation, Arkansas accumulated 82 yards rushing on 14 plays.
Arkansas had 83 snaps in that game; across those two games the Wildcat accounted for 28% of the Arkansas offense. It's not just a trick play here and there, it can be a part of a pretty decent collegiate offense... if you've got Robotbeastpig taking snaps. I don't think Michigan has that guy, but they do have the wide array of potential ballcarriers that could make the Wildcat effective.
This whole QB situation intrigues me. I think of Newsome as a "Black Tim Tebow" and I hope he can live up to that title. It seems to me that Forcier does not care about a QB situation and feels he can outshine who ever else hes going up against. I must admit but I do not know very much about Beaver but anyone who runs a 4.5 at 6'4" is not bad in my book. In an ideal world, would you rather have Newsome backed up by Forcier or Newsome backed up by Beaver? If Forcier does decide to come to Michigan, which wouldnt surprise me, would you think that they would try to convert one of three or would you expect one of them to decommit?
I don't think there's any way Michigan crams three quarterbacks into the class. If Forcier commits, someone's out the door. IMO, that would mean Newsome had decommitted first. But we can take a trip to Fantasy Fairyland, where Notre Dame has twenty straight national championships and Michigan State didn't blow a late lead against Michigan that one time, if you want. In Fantasy Fairyland, Forcier commits and the three recruits duke it out with Threet and Feagin for the starting job in 2009. Of those five players, only Forcier (shortish, smallish) and Threet (Lurch) don't project to another position. Feagin had DB/WR offers from LSU and Miami. Beaver has a WR offer from Texas. And when Newsome was going through his period of poor performance at camps, you could just feel the recruiting gurus begging for a move to linebacker.
In an ideal world Michigan would take all three and then have one transfer out in a couple years after getting beaten out, but that sounds distinctly sub-optimal for that recruit, and all of the guys looking at Michigan are extremely clear that they consider themselves quarterbacks. Beaver grew up a huge Texas fan and wanted to go there, just not as a wide reciever.
As to who I prefer between Forcier and Beaver: that's moot, IMO. Beaver's sticking and will be one of the QB recruits in this class. The choice, if there is one, is between Newsome and Forcier. I've made it clear that Newsome is my guy, no offense to Forcier and his ridiculous completion percentage.
Brian,Why is there so much concern/publicity over the lack of an experienced QB at Michigan. Just four years ago a second string QB named Chad Henne, who no one had even heard of, started for the Wolverines and went on to win the Big Ten.Aside from gameday experience (which cannot be practiced or replicated) Michigan has, at worst, a 5-star QB recruit and a 3-star "athlete" who happened to run and pass a lot in high school. To me this doesn't seem so bad.Besides, if you are overhauling and entire program like Rodriguez is, wouldn't you almost want "inexperience" at QB as opposed to deprogramming someone who would have to unlearn the old system?Does this make sense or am I just trying to see a silver lining?Thanks,LanceRichmond, VA
There was a huge difference between the quarterback situation in 2004 and the situation now. In 2004, Michigan had three top 100 players duking it out: a redshirt sophomore who was the #4 QB when he was recruited, a redshirt freshman who was the #5 QB, and a true freshman who was the #3 QB. Henne, in particular, could have gone to any school he wanted. Whoever comes out of that mess ahead has already beaten out some serious competition and is likely to be at least all right. Also, they were big tall strong pocket passers in a system for big tall strong pocket passers.
This year, Michigan has a four-star (not, unfortunately, a five-star) guy who was the #9 QB his recruiting year, a walk-on, and a three-star freshman who was mostly recruited as a defensive back or wide receiver. The one guy the recruiting services liked is a big tall strong pocket passer in a system for Pat White or Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick.
So, yeah: you're just looking for the silver lining.
I just got back from Moe Sport Shops and they have just recieved a shipment of new adidas jerseys--more #1, and now #10 and #4. Given that the athletic department decides which jersey numbers should be made, this looks like Brandon Minor will be given the first chance at running back this fall. In 2005, Nike made #3 jerseys (Grady), but they were still making #20, plus I think they started making them midway through the season after Hart was injured and Grady was carrying the ball regularly; given this it would seem that Minor will get the starter's job against Utah.
Kepp up the good work!
Just FYI, and another indicator this season is going to be a weird one: they're making jerseys for guys (#1) who don't exist.
Just one observation turned daunting question. While reading the position breakdowns and the subsequent 2008 recruiting class analysis [in Hail To The Victors 2008], I found myself wondering, "what about Sam McGuffie?" You referred to him in the Running Back section of the breakdown as a potential contributor, and highlighted his infamous mix tape we have all come to love, but you did not provide the recruiting breakdown that you did to others (though you said you failed to do so with some due to earlier coverage provided, but you did not mention him in this instance).
All I am really wondering is what kind of impact will McGuffie have on the immediate impact of the team? As you pointed out, athletes are the life-blood of the Rich Rodriguez system, and he has a good amount (many true freshman) at his disposal. Still, as highly touted a recruit as he was, and the buzz that he has created along the way, I would love to see him have an impact as soon as possible.
Is he ready?
Fall practice hasn't started yet, so no one really knows. There are reports floating around claiming him to be like this awesome unstoppable squirrel-man, but what context is this in? At Big Ten Media Days, Rodriguez mentioned getting reports from seven-on-seven sessions that the players are evidently running of their own volition. (College football summer workouts have a very complex idea of free will.) If the Squirrel Man reports have any basis in reality, they're coming from pad-free skeleton passing drills in which finding "empty grass" is as easy as stepping on the field. This is also known as McGuffie Heaven.
If McGuffie wasn't tearing up seven-on-seven drills it would bode unwell; killing them is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite to the dominance we all envision. Unfortunately, I can't find this in the archives but last year I came across video from one of McGuffie's playoff games in which he looked small, man. Like 164 pounds small, which was what he was listed at when he put up the 4.32 40 that put him on the map even before his junior year explosion. Mixtape goes here:
The skeptical insiders, few that they may be, usually cite his overwhelming tininess as a reason it'll be a while before he sees the field, and they'd definitely have a point if Lloyd Carr was still the sheriff in this town. But he's not. The Rodriguez offense doesn't care if you can move the pile or scratch out a third-and-three or even pass block much. It just wants you to find the aforementioned empty grass, then run a long way. It's kind of a glorified seven-on-seven drill.
With Kevin Grady in the doghouse and Michael Shaw listed as a wide receiver on the preliminary fall roster, McGuffie's path to the field is now significantly clearer. I doubt he'll pass either Minor or Brown, who've proven themselves far more capable than David Underwood had, but I think a year in the Noel Devine role is forthcoming. Further rationale can be had in the 2008 recruiting recap of McGuffie.
OK, so I found another question you should have asked at the Big Ten meetings...Looking through the weekly release there are four "Quality Control" coaches listed. What the hell does *that* mean?Keep up the good work,Mike
Brian,You've mentioned some of the things you'd like to ask (TE's in the new offense... OK, so thing, singular). And expressed your - and I assume everyone's - exasperation with the lack of new/serious questions coming from the traditional media. If you were gifted a sit-down with Rodriguez what would be on your list of questions, trying as much as possible to remain and football related and tilling the ground for non-redundant information?I know there's rules pertaining to talking about specific recruits, but asking about how he judges the "Southern Strategy" so far, and time/effort allocation as far as that goes, the general DE situation, how one jumps in to sell a school he himself is still learning about and how he sees those pitches changing as he gets into the job. Maybe the initial reaction he sees to the changing level of openness not usually associated with the Football program. Or posing the same question you've been getting: Can you make me not afraid about this season?
Anyway, I was wondering more what *you* had in mind as you camp out in Chicago. Granted an interview (30 min., an hour, something of decent length) what would you ask?-Colin
These are the things I had written down to ask if I got a chance:
"You have six tight ends on the roster and an offense that hasn't thrown a pass to a tight end in seven years. What are you going to do with these guys?" [asked, got a vague answer.]
"How did you initially strike upon Scott Shafer as a defensive coordinator? Were you aware of his rampant blitzing tendencies? Do you think the higher risk balances out with sacks and turnovers?" [first part asked by Tom Dienhart; exploration of how Rodriguez understands applied football mathematics left untouched.]
"You've run more than 70% of the time in the last few years at West Virginia; this has generally worked out well but when the offense bogs down it doesn't seem to have a backup option. In your ideal offense, what's the run-pass split? Is your dream quarterback more Pat White or Donovan McNabb?" [this came up quite a bit and rodriguez answered it thoroughly]
"There are three minutes left in the game and your opponent is out of time outs. You're up two. You have the ball on your opponent's 34; this is outside of your kicker's field goal range. It's fourth and four. What do you do?"
"Have you heard of David Romer? (If not, explain David Romer.) Do you think that makes sense? Do you like David Romer? Please tell me you like David Romer."
"Your recruiting has a much more Southern bent than Michigan's had previously. What's the rationale behind that? Does southern speed actually, like, exist, in your opinion? Does it worry you that Michigan's going to be picking the leftovers from instate schools?"
"Why the hell is it so hard to convince kids to leave Mississippi?" [Seriously. I want to know this.]
"If you call all the offensive plays, what's Calvin Magee's role as your offensive coordinator?"
"Are you concerned that the proliferation of the spread offense will blunt its efficiency? Do you think it's just plain superior to other offenses or is it something you'd discard if the game shifted to it too hard?'
"It's been reported that Michigan is moving to a spread punt formation. What's the advantage of that, and why have so many teams moved to it?"
"How has your recruiting changed since you've arrived at Michigan? Have you aimed at a different sort of player? Most of West Virginia's high-rated recruits had legal or academic issues; was that a product of necessity? Is there any advantage in taking guys hanging by a thread?"
"Are some high profile recruits turned off by Mike Barwis and his general promise to work you like a dog? Do you prefer a guy with a high athletic ceiling or one with crazy work ethic?"
"In last year's Rutgers game Greg Schiano consistently stunted the backside DE into a gap and blitzed off the corner. Have you seen this sort of defense before? What does it do to the spread and how do you combat it?"
"How does your offense change when the defense doesn't have to respect the QB keeper on the zone read?"
Many of these would draw vague responses designed to sort of answer the question without really answering anything, unfortunately. I think the Rutgers one might get a point-blank "no," but if it got answered that would be extremely interesting. I think the key is to ask about specific incidents or strategies and avoid the 10,000 foot view; make it as hard as possible for them to slip into generalities. That's is something that would be much easier in the immediate aftermath of games.
A couple of weeks back, you made the following comment: "And Steven Threet is not necessarily chopped liver. He was Rivals' #8 QB prospect two years ago, a four-star with a number of attractive offers. In an alternate universe where Carr is still the coach and Mallett is still around, I bet he's still your odds-on favorite to start this fall."
I found this to be a very provocative statement (about Threet potentially starting over Mallett) -- do you have anything to back this up, or was it just a hunch?
Thanks and Go Blue!
If by "anything to back this up" you mean anything more than the avalanche of insider rumblings and tips that came in over the course of the fall, no. I wrote this in February and still believe it to be true:
About every week I got an email from someone on campus who had seen the kid getting high or trashed. Some talked to him; all who did came away with the opinion that the guy didn't care about anything. Sources inside the program confirmed multiple times that Mallett had a major attitude problem, something that was so pervasive that it even worked it way into one of the local newspapers. The dissent was evident on the sidelines during the disastrous Wisconsin game, when Mario Manningham bitched him out on the sidelines, or during Mallett's disastrous stint in the Illinois game, when Carr bitched him out for two solid minutes.
In October I wrote this based on multiple sources:
The situation here is precarious; without a major attitude adjustment things could be very sketchy at quarterback next year.
I have heard it far and wide and so many times from so many sources that the conclusion is indisputable: Ryan Mallett is the reason Ryan Mallett transferred, no matter what Ryan Mallett's mom -- no doubt the least biased source around -- says.
Mallett was in such deep conflict with Carr and his performance onfield was so miserable that the "experience" gained was a net deficit. Barring a 180 wherein Mallett got "on the same page" with Carr -- always a possibility when you're dealing with a 18-year old kid -- is he going to go with the kid he hates and doesn't play well or the kid he likes and hasn't, like, thrown a ball backwards to Carson Butler?