Per Phil Brabbs's twitter, Charles Drake, starting strong safety for Michigan from 2001-'02, has passed away. Drake was a moderately shirtless '99 running back recruit who traded in a career of kick returning to play safety because Michigan had no safeties after June and Curry. Drake did it mostly with athleticism and a taste for (juuuuuust close enough to the whistle to not get flagged) hitting. Personally I remember him going ham against Michigan State a few times, and causing two turnovers in the closer-than-it-seemed 2002 Michigan-Illinois game. In the first he forced Beutjer to throw to Marlin Jackson (at 2:02), the other…
…was his only career interception and sneaky runback that caused know-it-alls on couches across the state of Michigan to exclaim, "remember, he was a kick returner!"
His senior year Drake shared the Ufer Bequest award (for enthusiasm and love for Michigan) with Bennie Joppru. From the little I knew of Drake off the field—all from a guy who worked with the team—"enthusiasm and love for Michigan" was most apropos. Let it stand as a fitting epitaph to a Wolverine who'll be missed.
There's a Delaware State?
DSU is a historically black college located in Dover (the capital of The Small Wonder). The school has just over 3,000 students, making it slightly larger than Ann Arbor Pioneer. It was founded as an agricultural school for blacks by the Morrill Act when the doctrine of Separate but Equal kept them out of schools for white students.
Who are the Delaware State Hornets?
DSU's athletic teams are the Hornets, and their colors are Cherry Red and Columbia Blue. They compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) of Division 1-AA. Their football stadium, creatively named "Alumni Stadium" holds 7,193 spectators, by far the smallest of any team Michigan has played in the modern era.
Delaware State is not the 1-AA superpower that Appalachian State was in 2007. The Hornets are an average-ish team in the MEAC, and though they went undefeated in conference in 2007 (their only losses on the year were to 1-A foe Kent State and in the playoffs to 1-AA National runner-up Delaware (the first ever meeting between the two schools, something of a controversial topic)). This past year, however, the team went 5-6, missing out on the 1-AA playoffs.
What Should We Expect?
Head coach Al Lavan has brought a new era of respectability to the Hornets' football program, as the 2007 playoff appearance was the school's first ever. He is 35-22 in his four years in Dover, with the only losing season coming last year.
The Hornets finished 94th out of 118 1-AA teams in total offense, but their defense was stellar, finishing 13th in the country. That wasn't just a product of playing awful offenses from the MEAC, either, as many of them finished middle-of-the-pack or better in 1-AA for total offense.
As you'll see in a moment, last year wasn't exactly a rebuilding one for Del State: They will come into this year minus a ton of talent from last year's senior class.
The Hornets' pass offense loses 4-year starter Vashon Winton, and will be breaking in a new signal-caller. In addition, they lose 2 of their top 3 receivers.
Speaking of those receivers, one of them was departing tailback Chris Strother, who leaves, along with the next two top rushers, one of whom was Winton. Though I can't find any definitive info, the rushing yardage for a QB would certainly imply that Delaware State employs some type of spread offense.
Leading tackler Kevin Conner has graduated (along with fellow linebacker Jackie Watkins), and defensive back Avery Grant is the returning leader in that department. He is also the team's returning leader in tackles for a loss (that's right, as a DB), with a whopping 8.5. The defensive line loses a pair of stalwarts as well, with Ronn Spinner Jr. And Akiel Russell mobing on. The remaining starter at linebacker, Joe Mendes, led the team in sacks last year.
The distribution of statistic would lead me to believe that the hornets imply some form of spread defense, likely a 3-3-5 with Grant, the team's star, at Rover/Bandit.
This has been a first glance at the Delaware State Hornets, and I'm sure both Brian and I will give them a more thorough treatment over the off-season and leading up to the game.
The author is the publisher of Varsity Blue.
Tebow must have raptured up some poor sap driving the Zamboni:
The University of Michigan ice hockey team's game against Miami University tonight (Friday, Jan. 9) has been postponed until Sunday (Jan. 11) at 4 p.m. Yost Ice Arena suffered weather-related damage during the recent snow and wind storms over the holidays.
Don't be there or be square.
The Monday press conference distilled into relevant items.
- Ortmann has a dislocated elbow and will be out a few weeks. Maybe he returns for Wisconsin. Bryant Nowicki and Perry Dorrestein are competing to replace him. Omameh also got a mention.
- Shaw, Mathews, and Brown will play.
- Brown was in a white shirt—instead of a light-contact green one—for the first time yesterday.
- Terrance Robinson has his knee brace off and is a couple of weeks from seeing the field.
"That's an 'or' because it is 'or.' Both of those guys are still in the mix. If one guy would emerge and play to the point where it's just him, that would be good. But our concern is whoever is taking the snaps, can we execute the system."
Feagin is working at quarterback and slot receiver, “helping Michigan out at the receiver position.” This should sound the death knell for his prospects at the position: David Cone is the third QB, not Feagin. I expect a move by the end of the year.
“I saw them making steps, and I told them. Sometimes whereas it was two, maybe three guys not quite right, a lot of times it was just one guy. We're really not effective, especially in our system, unless all five are getting it done. There is a lot of precision to it.”
- Koger still hasn’t played but they do plan to get him in at some point. No mention of Roundtree, who IIRC did not play Saturday.
- There were a couple of questions about Brown, one neutral, the other “dude… like doesn’t this guy need to get better?” Rodriguez responded “Why do we want to make this negative? Stevie has played some but for a veteran guy, he doesn't have a whole lot of experience.”
- Warren is still the top guy returning punts but they’re “almost ready to have a rotation” between Warren, Odoms, and Cissoko.
- Panter and Evans are still “in the mix” at linebacker but Rodriguez “kind of liked the way they lined up this weekend.”
Exciting awesome excitementnews:
That Clearinghouse issue Marcus Witherspoon had did not go away; he isn’t going to be on the team this year or any other, it seems.
Also: Mathews and Van Bergen are doubtful for Saturday; Grady will play.
Via Sam Webb on WTKA this morning: Cox has decided to stay, but freshman LB Taylor Hill has decided to go. This latter news can also be creepily stalked out of Facebook if you like.
Hill’s departure is a negative. He was a fringe 4-star guy, top 250 to Rivals but three-star-ish to Scout, and played a position (OLB) at which Michigan isn’t particularly deep.
It’s also kind of weird, because, like, seriously, they’ve played one game. Maybe Hill just changes his mind a lot: he was originally committed to Oklahoma, then West Virginia—though that decommit is understandable—before picking Michigan. Or maybe he just wasn’t going to hack it. Some guys, like Cobrani Mixon, are clear non-contributors as soon as they show up. If he ends up at a MAC school or something that may be it.