"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
|WHAT||Michigan vs #18 Notre Dame|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||3:30 EST, September 12th, 2008|
|THE LINE||Notre Dame -3|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on ABC|
That's from Chesterton Lep, by the way, who is far more insane than even our recent influx of MS Paint Van Goghs. Insane doesn't actually do it justice.
Run Offense vs. Notre Dame
This has to be crushing victory for Michigan, for now, and for the season. Irish beatwriter Brian Hamilton:
"The defensive line just has question marks all over, whether it's because of youth or that they're generally unproven as performers. And since the Irish haven't been particularly stellar at stopping the run the past couple seasons as it is, it's a concern."
Though Brian Stouffer suggested that Ethan Johnson was a hybrid DE/OLB, that's apparently a matter of some debate. What isn't up for debate is that the Notre Dame front four is way smaller than even Michigan's, and probably about as young. This is from the Irish Eyes publisher:
Junior Ian Williams and sophomore Ethan Johnson are a talented pair, but both struggled vs. the Wolf Pack’s veteran front line. Irish defensive ends Kerry Neal and John Ryan are undersized on the right side (quality pass rushers that can struggle at the point of attack) and Notre Dame features a redshirt freshman at left defensive end who played in his first collegiate game last Saturday.
So that's a guy largely responsible for McGuffie mania, a guy I saw on skates against Nevada, and then small, production-free defensive ends. So maybe it's not a surprise that Notre Dame's tackle distribution is extremely encouraging for a team that seeks to pound the ball. It mirrors what happened last year, and last year the Michigan ground game had perhaps the easiest time they'd had against any opponent in South Bend:
After week 1, just as in 2008, the leading tacklers for the Notre Dame fighting Irish are both safeties: Kyle McCarthy with 7 and Harrison Smith with 5. DE Kerry Neal isn’t even on the stat sheet, Brian Smith, while making 2 very big plays, didn’t make a single other tackle, and Ethan Johnson had 1 tackle all game. Convince me that Michigan (sucks!) wont just run a “9 yards and a cloud of dust” offense against ND all freaking game.
Sorry to link to the short-bus section of the Notre Dame blogosphere, but the tackle distribution is a point of interest.
Notre Dame folk are pointing to Nevada's raw rushing numbers and avoiding the big flashing item of concern: in the limited attempts offered Nevada's clunky tailback he averaged 6.3 YPC. Wolfpack QB Colin Kaepernick averaged 7.5 yards per carry (sacks removed). Total YPC: 6.4. #2 rushing offense of last year, sure, but also a WAC team. In three games against BCS opposition (Texas Tech, Maryland, and Missouri, last year's #61, #71, and #31 rushing defenses) the 2008 Wolfpack averaged 5 YPC (again, sacks removed). Notre Dame's defense was way, way worse than a motley collection of basically meh BCS run defenses. And this was not an artifact of a big lead. Nevada gashed Notre Dame time and again in the first half.
Couple that with last year's Michigan game, which featured virtually the same lines on both sides of the ball and one tailback that proved considerably less effective than the guy Michigan will deploy with gusto on Saturday, and you have a strong argument for Michigan to crush Notre Dame on the ground. This, by all appearances, is not a good run defense.
On the other side of the ball it's mildly concerning that against Western Michigan, a team replacing almost the entirety of its defense and three-quarters of its defensive line, Michigan bogged down a bit. There were numerous holding calls and they could not break any long runs aside from Denard Robinson's moment of magic—not exactly something the coaches drew up. Michigan's offensive line was missing the form they had late in 2008, but that may be an artifact of Western's aggressive scraping. If Notre Dame tries the same thing Michigan will be more likely to take the obvious countermeasures that were wide open against the Broncos.
The mostly healthy return of Brandon Minor will help, and Notre Dame doesn't have anyone as fast as Denard Robinson. This should be a huge advantage for Michigan; if it's not it's hard to see a Michigan win.
Key Matchup: Molk and guards versus Ian Williams and Ethan Johnson. Molk cannot have another game where he struggles and ends up with a couple holding calls. Ethan Johnson was on skates against Nevada and Ian Williams spent last year's Michigan game watching McGuffie run by him from the ground. Michigan needs to dominate this matchup.
Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame
There appears to be one, which is a nice change from last season. Tate Forcier was deadly accurate in his first game as a Michigan quarterback, and that should prove no fluke going forward. The downside of the freshman was entirely in missed reads against both run and pass and a couple of runs that were not as first-down oriented as they should have been.
So it sort of sucks that TAH-NOO-TAH has bumped aside Judas/mole Corwin Brown. Brown spent the last two games against Michigan in a cover-two umbrella and hardly ever blitzed or even put a seventh guy in the box. If Michigan hadn't fumbled six times in last year's game, boy howdy, we might have come within 18 points thanks to Brown's never-ending ability to sit back and calmly consider a situation for three or even four quarters. Tenuta just blitzes from everywhere.
This could go either way. Nevada took a couple of huge sacks and suffered a lot of QB pressure when they went to play action. Play action is an awkward thing in the pistol that requires the quarterback to turn his back away from the line of scrimmage and then end up sucking linebacker if they blitz right. Michigan won't let that happen; their offense never has the quarterback turn away from the line of scrimmage and bases its play action on the zone read, which necessarily occupies one of the defensive ends. But Nevada's passing game had a lot of experience. Michigan has little, and the guy who made the big plays last week is probably on the shelf. One way it could go is Forcier getting buried.
The other way mostly relies on excellent pickups from the backs—Carlos Brown had a couple crushing pickups last week and Brandon Minor is a fine blocker in his own right—and the idea that Forcier is, yes, Drew Tate, a guy extremely comfortable moving around and finding people downfield when the play breaks down. It's dangerous to blitz Pat White and it might be dangerous to blitz Forcier, albeit in a totally different way. If he evades the wave of defenders and breaks out to one side, we've already seen he can direct traffic to good effect.
Notre Dame's secondary is supposed to be pretty good. Safety Kyle McCarthy was the perfect idea of consistency in last year's Michigan game and returns; David Bruton, who was even better, is gone. He's replaced by Harrison Smith. (Notre Dame's version of "Robinson" is "Smith".) Darrin Walls returns from "personal issues" (read: academic issues) and Notre Dame has a stable of highly rated recruits with good experience plus senior Raeshon MacNeil. Unless Darryl Stonum—who was ranked one spot behind Mike Floyd by Rivals—suddenly lives up to the hype, Michigan's not going to get deep much unless it's Kevin Koger or one of the slots on a wheel route.
Those guys will be the key, IME: with Notre Dame blitzing its ass off Michigan will have opportunities underneath and down the seam. A couple of deep Koger completions can turn drives into points.
Key Matchup: Forcier versus his Self-Conception. Tenuta is going to send the kitchen sink and several times Forcier will be forced to scramble out or take a hot read or just do something smart. He did a lot of smart against Western; in high school, though, he responded with a bunch of picks when his offensive line fell off the map.
Run Defense vs. Notre Dame
The Notre Dame run offense exists as a sidelight to the passing game. Against Nevada, Notre Dame had two sorts of plays on the ground:
- Successful runs that exploited Nevada's "explosive" (read: irresponsible) defensive ends and got Allen or Gray in vacated space.
- Things that went about two yards.
That's something of an exaggeration, but… eh… not a huge one. Notre Dame's starting fullback is out and their backup is a converted tailback. As mentioned this morning, Notre Dame plans on rotating through the left side of its line, which is… um… bats, isn't it? Who does that?
As far as the rest of the line, realistic expectations are modest. Hamilton again:
I refuse to believe that offensive linemen who have been around for four or five years suddenly, all at once, in one offseason, go from mediocre to great. It just doesn't work that way. If the offensive line is consistently average, at least it's consistent. If it backslides to the way it's played at times last year and two years ago, it's going to cost Notre Dame a game it shouldn't lose.
It'll be up to Michigan's defensive line to actuate that backslide. That defensive line is not deep, but the first-line guys they run out are all seemingly competent, though Craig Roh remains a wiry true freshman and could find himself targeted when Notre Dame brings in more than one tight end. Which will probably be lots, more on that later.
Notre Dame had an even breakdown of draws, the inside zone, a counter, and an outside toss before they went zone nuts in garbage time. I know Weis will probably pull out 1,000 elephants and a dancing bear against Michigan, but Notre Dame's basic array of running plays won't be anything Michigan hasn't seen. You can put your practice time into one thing or the other and it's clear which phase Weis favors. With Aldridge out and Rudolph putting in a poor blocking display in the first game, Michigan should be able to handle Notre Dame's ground game without committing an extra man. Maybe.
Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh versus Armando Allen. Unless something funky's happened with Notre Dame's offensive line they aren't going to do a whole lot of crushing run blocks, but they will use a ton of misdirection, play action, and draws in an attempt to free up their bombs and exploit opponents set on stopping them. Ezeh displayed several instances of unnecessary hesitancy against Western and could be ripe for exploitation. In space, he must tackle.
Pass Defense vs. Notre Dame
Mmmmm. WAC snacks:
You've probably heard the obvious counterpunch to that re: Nevada, which finished 119th of 119 in I-A pass defense by a landslide last year and then lost two starters from the secondary. Clausen's day wasn't exactly unprecedented. Chase Daniel went 23 of 28 for 405 yards and four touchdowns. And, okay, Chase Daniel is pretty good. But when Louisiana Tech and UNLV combine to average 8.5 YPA and have five touchdowns to no interceptions… well… you're bad. Hawaii wasn't much competition, either. So the jury remains out for a guy whose four games before the WAC parade looked like this:
It is hereby stipulated that if Michigan gives up a 70-yard bubble screen and an awful underthrown bomb that features Purdue-level tackling, Michigan loses. Those things are in some doubt. I assume it's also stipulated that if Clausen throws two picks and half a touchdown, Notre Dame loses, and that's the average there in Notre Dame's last four games against plausible competition (and Syracuse).
If the Nevada game is an indication, Michigan's inability to go to a nickel package isn't likely to be much of the factor. The Notre Dame opener saw a severe reduction in three-wide sets:
In their place were a ton of standard I-form packages and 2TE ace sets. With Aldridge out, expect ace sets to be even more prevalent. Michigan should be able to match up pretty well against Notre Dame's big two receivers without dipping into the nonexistent corner depth. Not that they'd go to said nonexistent depth anyway: with Stevie Brown at strongside linebacker, the threat of a Robby Parris or Duval Kamara—both ponderous possession sorts—isn't the sort that demands a zippy cornerback. Any personnel grouping other than the base is unlikely.
Okay: base personnel versus base personnel. Advantage: hell if I know. Before the season I was seriously down on this matchup but after watching four different members of Michigan's defensive line tear through the Western offensive line—a veteran unit extremely well-versed in pass blocking—and Donovan Warren try to get a grip on his new super powers, I actually think this tilts more towards neutral.
The main concern is when Notre Dame does something like, oh, I don't know, keep nine guys in to block and run a one-man route with Golden Tate. Everything was going swimmingly in the Western game until they pulled a similar stunt and though the burned corner doesn't figure to play on Saturday unless disaster befalls the secondary, free safety Troy Woolfolk also picked up an ugly –3 in UFR for his part in the play.
Michigan need pressure from the front four against regular (non max-pro) sets, and eventual pressure against the max pro. All of Michigan's guys this year are high motor sorts who will get after the ball; no Terrance Taylors or Will Johnsons who aren't much use against the pass. When the starters are in, Michigan should get pressure, and Clausen still hasn't proven he can deal with pressure.
Key Matchup: God, I've waffled on this a thousand times. I'll settle with Corners Man Up Against Floyd And Tate, as Notre Dame will attempt to take the Michigan defensive line out of the game with max protect a lot and in those instances it will be up to Warren and Cissoko to not get burnt toasty.
This is a virtual unknown for both teams except when Zoltan rolls onto the field ready to shoot lightning bolts down the opponent's face. So… advantage Michigan there. Both kickers are almost totally untested. Jason Olesnavage does have a pretty 44-yard field goal to his credit, and it sounds like Michigan's kickoff guy is considerably better than Notre Dame's. Slight advantage here to Michigan.
Key Matchup: HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
- Receivers are shaking free from the cornerbacks even a little.
- Rodriguez doesn't have a TAH-NOO-TAH counterpunch.
- Notre Dame's offensive line looks competently coached for a change.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Notre Dame's defensive line is just as prone to skate backwards as they were last year.
- Rodriguez has a package that neutralizes the blitz.
- They don't double Brandon Graham.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 5 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 Hey That Touchdown Last Week Looked Familiar, +1 for And Wow We Are Going Up A Team That Would Win The WAC, –1 for …But Is Still Coached By Charlie Weis, –1 for …And I Can't Emphasize This Enough, –1 for… Seriously, +1 for …Okay Maybe That One Was Excessive, +1 for Major Quarterback Experience Deficiency, –1 for But Our Defensive Line Should Consume Their Souls, –1 for And I Know We Worked Harder, Apparently, You Dolphin Puncher, +1 for It Takes Time To Dig Out From 3-9.).
Desperate need to win level: 7 out of 10. (Baseline 5, –1 Sort Of Playing With House Money, Right?, +1 for Yeah, Sort Of Not, +1 for Boy All That Hot Seat Talk Would Go From Frustrating To Entertaining, +1 for I Love Me Some This Week In Notredamenfreude Fodder, –1 for Home Dog And Close Loss Is Understandable, +1 for This Week Always Reminds Me That Internet Notre Dame Fans Should Be Shot Into Space.)
Loss will cause me to... probably curse Angry Michigan Safety-Hating God.
Win will cause me to... start thinking New Year's Day.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
I think I changed my mind from earlier in the week, when I predicted Notre Dame victories a couple of times. The main reasons for this reversal:
observation of the ND DL against Nevada coupled with a closer look at the stats and the words out there.
minute UFR evaluations of Donovan Warren.
minute UFR evaluations of Michigan's starting DL and the pass rush that comes from everywhere.
Given the data the biggest mismatch in this game is not the Notre Dame passing offense against the Michigan secondary, but the Michigan ground game against Notre Dame's defensive line. I think Forcier can make the blitz backfire just enough and Michigan will pop more guys free than Notre Dame. Clausen's potential improvement is the wildcard. If he's actually as good as he's looked against the WAC, Michigan loses. I don't think he is.
In a game where both teams figure to get to the quarterback a lot, it's about coping with that. Michigan's run game is better prepared to do that than Notre Dame's, and Tate Forcier might not be too far off Clausen with his "scrambling" and "playing for a high school that did something other than win 63-7."
I reserve the right to change my opinion ten minutes into tomorrow's game. I've already waffled once this week, and I have almost no faith in the predictions I'm about to put on the line. But I do have a little.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Michigan does some crazy trick play stuff.
- Michigan tailbacks crack into the secondary lots, with Minor, Shaw, and Brown getting a near-equal distribution of the carries. Quarterback runs are down considerably.
- Notre Dame gets a bomb to Tate; Floyd is contained by Warren.
- Brandon Graham gets two sacks.
- Michigan, 27-23.
Hello once again. When Michigan plays the sort of opponent that actually has opposition bloggers this here blog tends to flag one of them down and relentlessly grill them until they are convinced their team will meet ignominious defeat. The best and creepiest of these are always with Brian Stouffer of the House Rock Built, who was also this week's featured podcast guest and has contributed the Notre Dame season preview to Hail To The Victors since it was conceived.
So… here we go. If you treasure your sanity you will stop here. I'm in bold. Update: Second half posted.
Shall we do this?
Yesum. IIRC we trade off asking each other questions about the other guy's team and then post 80 pics of Tom Hammond.
It's not football without nightmare fuel.
he's just so… eager
In this, Notre Dame and Michigan fans are united. In fact, I have specific requests for Tom Hammond this year.
For a second, I thought you wrote "from Tom Hammond" I don't want to know what disgusting things Tom Hammond has specifically requested of you.
If he promised me last year would never happen again I would do anything. ...but I won't do that [/meatloaf]
All right. To the questionings. Jimmy Clausen has thrown for ten zillion yards on 85% completions against WAC snacks the last two games. Before that he was good but interception-happy. What happens when, or if, Michigan covers people and stuff. Still a force-it gunslinger or more polished?
It's probably fair to say that the third year in a program is when the lights usually come on for a quarterback and he reaches his potential. Most quarterbacks are spared the indignity of having to take snaps as a starter those first two years and swiftly proceed to get crunched into lunchmeat and heave up wobbling ducks into hungry secondaries.
As such, I think Jimmy has finally developed a level of confidence and understanding of the college game so that he can actually perform like the spiky-haired wünderkid second-coming of Sir Jesus Christ that he is instead of the last few years of frightened-gazelle ineptitude. He's got a good, accurate arm, a gaggle of talented receivers, and a line in front of him that gives me great hopes of him surviving well past puberty.
Aw, man, but I read that Weis is actually rotating his LT and LG. That seems suicidal. If 2 QB = 0 QB how many LTs does 2 LTs equal?
Well, the fact of the matter is that this line doesn't have a prototypical genetic freak to lock down the LT position. Sometimes there's no shame in two guys banding together to do the work of one man. It's kind of like how me and my buddy teamed up to date this supermodel. I had the hot body and the dashing good looks, and he could write like totally beautiful sonnets and shit. It worked out pretty well, I think.
So Duncan is the Brian Stouffer of the offensive line and Romine is the Cyrano de Bergerac.
This reminds me of a story about Padma Lakshimi and Salman Rushdie.
Exactly. There's always something going on behind the scenes.
All right, so while we're on the subject of quarterbacks. Your more or less starting quarterback is named Tate. Now, I know it's only one game into his career, but do you think there's any chance that, over the course of his lifetime, he will equal or surpass the achievements of child-star-turned-minor-TV-personality and world's-most-famous-Tate Tate Donovan? Keep in mind that Tate Donovan bagged Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston. In their primes!
Never underestimate the potential of Michigan quarterbacks to bag Victoria's Secret models or be erroneously named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People. Hell, even NFL non-entity and non-quarterback Chris Howard bagged Gabrielle Union. It is his destiny to sleep with many beautiful women.
You could say it's part of the... Forcier.
I will go shoot myself now. Oh, right, all out of bullets after last year.
Football-wise and keeping with the Tate theme: I compared him to Drew Tate before I ever saw him and I still think that's the right comparison. His first touchdown was pure Tate, scrambling out of the pocket and moxie-ing up a touchdown. It's always very confusing to talk about this. Certain "Who's on First" qualities.
What if he married Notre Dame's #2 receiver? Then his name would be Tate Tate.
That would be the bloodiest wedding ever. After the vows everyone's head would explode and there would just be pools of blood around spurting corpses and, in the back, Quentin Tarantino furiously… well… you know. Enjoying it.
first hit on google images for "Quentin Tarantino [enjoying it]". srsly.
Wow. I think I just topped the Tom Hammond picture.
I'm impressed on our ability to up the creepy ante every year.
We have been following our teams' leads.
Heh. I think your somewhat starting quarterback has a bad football name. I always think "Tate Forcier: Licensed Aquatherapist" when I hear his name. Now Denard Robinson, that's a name you can set your watch to.
Yes, but it's too bad Robinson has the accuracy of a tommy-gunner on speed. On the other hand: he's also got the generalized mayhem of one.
I've heard him compared to Usain Bolt without the passing ability.
I'm trying to pick out which electron orbital he goes in, actually. Usain Bolt is old news. Wake me up when that guy starts moving fast enough to slow his own time.
Best not to even try to observe him... you'll alter the result by doing so.
I would recommend that course of action for your linebackers. Not that they'll need that advice since they'll just be running upfield as fast as they can on every snap.
Tenuta thirsts for blood.
But seriously, going back to the 2QB=0QB theorem, wouldn't that make 4 QB's the equivalent of, like, Euler's Constant QB's?
I don't think the QB constant exists in the realm of accepted mathematics.
Is this QB carousel distressing for Michigan fans?
no reason except perpetual awesome
When it stops on #8--Sheridan--yes. But I think most people are envisioning a version of Tebow-Leak, albeit a way suckier one, and are fine with the rotation. If they bring Robinson in and just run unsuccessfully people will be irritated, I think.
Are you concerned about all the interior running Nevada did? I think I saw Ethan Johnson get dumped ten yards downfield once. He seems pretty light and thin for a DT.
I think a bit of that was schematic... playing a team that runs a gimmicky über-spread offense makes it important to really spread out sideline to sideline at the expense of lightening up the pressure in the middle and relying on your second level to keep anything big from happening.
Johnson is a curiosity... he's shown himself to be a very gifted pass rusher and interior presence despite his size, and with the defensive scheme modified around to make him kind of a hybrid OLB thing, hopefully he won't be put into any huge physical mismatches.
Michigan would qualify as gimmick über-spread.
Well... über is a term I would apply to a team who finished #2 last year in rushing yards
Not for a spread team that finished number...
59! Above average!
There you go. Let's not hand out umlauts like they're candy.
So... Johnson is a DE/OLB? Are you running a 3-4 still?
Not really but kind of but not really. With Tenuta's blitz patterns, the hard and fast rules of personnel groupings get a bit nebulous
It seems like Michigan's general source of horror in these matchups is giving up the long pass. I'm not sure if you noticed, but the Irish had a receiver that averaged 50 yards a catch last week. Has anything been done about this, or should I expect to sing the Benny Hill theme song a few times on Saturday?
Well... I don't think Michigan is going to give up a 70-yard bubble screen or be quite as comically inept as the Nevada DB was on that underthrown ball. If either of these things happen, it's losin' time. And actually the top two corners are both hyped recruits who looked pretty good against Western. Donovan Warren was running ahead of WMU's big play guy on three separate deep balls. That guy isn't terrifying like Floyd, but I do think Warren has a shot at shutting him down and ramping up his own hype train. FS Troy Woolfolk is fast but got caught flat-footed on that long touchdown; hopefully Michigan spends the week telling him to ignore the run and get back. I think you'll see at least one bomb connect, and I think Michigan can win despite that. If a second lands, which is totally possible... well... nuts.
The remainder! At House Rock Built! Woo!
NO MEANS NO MR HAMMOND.
Tate! The people have spoken and MGoUnderground has listened. The Tate shirt is available for purchase.
If you're interested in the details, Enjoy Life pretty much liveblogged his shirt purchase and washing. Everything is AWESOME. He cannot BELIEVE what a deal he got. CONSUME.
I really hope this is just random. If this sign is just random, it's funny. If it's an obscure sexual act—and these days punching BLANK almost always is—it's not:
There is, unfortunately, an Urban Dictionary entry for "Dolphin Punch" but there's only one and it seems obscure enough that unless it's this particularly house/frat that initiated the term they're literally talking about punching dolphins, which I approve of as a ridiculous fashion via which to express your disapproval. [Update: the house had a sign featuring a fist punching an incredulous dolphin, so it was literal. Good work, BOX.] Multiple emailers have mentioned that Drew Sharp—freshly returned to the local airwaves hoorah—spent a lot of time on WDFN the other day bemoaning this sign and others along the various frats and apartment buildings en route to the stadium. An emailer:
Drew Sharp was going on about how there were some "reprehensible" signs that he saw on the way to the game regarding Rosenberg. He said that he talked to unnamed "U-M officials", and was told that the Freep needs to understand that emotions get high when they write on a sensitive subject, and that their inaction was the first time that Sharp was embarrassed by his degree, blah, blah, blah, won't someone think of the children.
…So, I called in. I asked him and Matt Shepard where the signs were. Sharp hemmed and hawed, and it turned out that unsurprisingly, they were on private property (although one of them "might have been on campus"). They hung up on me before I could blast Sharp for what he is, but Jesus. No wonder the print media is dying- this isn't rocket science. Hell, even Shepard understood the First Amendment.
How is it that this man has a job that doesn't involve scrubbing something, but nothing too important?
While we're on the subject of, well, you know, Jay Bilas' latest insider piece argues along these lines:
If the allegations concerning Michigan are true, which would assume that the players making the allegations had a full understanding of what constituted countable and non-countable hours and what constituted voluntary and mandatory workouts, then Michigan is guilty of working too hard on football.
Which is nothing anyone hasn't heard—probably dozens of times—in the last two weeks. But Bilas has toned down the Amaker stuff after the Manny Harris elbow overreaction and remains one of the best analysts (alternatives: Vitale) in college basketball. Maybe Michigan fans can take him off the Enemies List?
And hey guess what now it's time to talk about Notre Dame. What the hell is Charlie Weis 1) talking about and 2) attempting to imply by this:
When Weis was looking at Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, he said he couldn’t keep track of him because he said he bounced to four high schools in four years.
Forcier transferred from his original high school to Scripps Ranch after his freshman year, and then, you know, played at Scripps Ranch the next three years. Our source on this: Tate Forcier and his interview with Tom for Hail To The Victors 2009. Our hobo quarterback needs to grow a beard and get on the tracks, man, before all the other hobos laugh at him when he says he hasn't been to El Paso.
HOBO #1: You've got to go to El Paso.
FORCIER: I keep hearing that but I've never been. I mostly stick around Scripps Ranch High School because I'm the quarterback there.
HOBO #2: LOL wait till I tell Weis the exact opposite of this.
HOBO #1: Word. I remember our days at Our Lady. Remember what it was like to consider the vague possibility of touching a woman, even if she was the metaphorical embodiment of a religion and not actually, you know, a person?
HOBO #2: No.
HOBO #1: No, me neither.
FORCIER: Yeah… how about that. I'm going to take off, I have to go throw some ridiculously accurate passes. [leaves]
HOBO #1: 40 year mistake, that guy.
Hobo #1 revealed! It's Tommy Kilborn, sometime EDSBS guest columnist:
I certainly respect what the Nevada Wolfpack did, but they just couldn’t hope to keep up with the brilliant scheming by Charlie Weis and his offensive staff. The energy in the stadium was unreal! I saw several alums even stand during plays because they were so excited, though they did sit down quickly and courteously when the ushers came along to settle things down. You can’t blame them, ushers: Charlie Weis football in its full glory has that effect on people.
As always, Kilborn is a brilliant non-parody of Notre Dame fans. NDNation is going to look at you very sternly, Orson.
Speakin' of the hobo. Guy seems to have a good grasp of both train routes and defenses:
Mmmm talky QB porn. Also Rotel ad. I don't think I've ever even seen Rotel available in local supermarkets, but buy anyway. HOBO QB DIRECTS YOU TO.
Etc.: There is now a blog dedicated to Microsoft Paint as it relates to Michigan football. As you might expect, it is spectacular. Future expansion was part of the Michigan Stadium renovation plans. Mustaches for Michigan came off.
He will pull off your arm and beat you to death with it and then settle down for a meal, it will be just like "Alive" down to the sexy 70's hair. Dex's latest at the WLA is pretty great all around but possibly best for highlighting this Vernon Gholston-esque gun show photo:
So that's where the rest of Tate Forcier's biceps went. (reference)
Diaries jihad! With the advent of the season I am moving things from diary to board with extreme prejudice. Consider whether your diary has the same level of value as a typical jamiemac post or this thorough research from BlueSeoul (who you may remember as Odoms hater from the season preview…
…but he's contrite):
1st Stat Category: Yards per thrown at
This stat is better than yards per catch because it includes a penalty for players who drop the ball or loaf it on a play and don't get open. Yes they are penalized for having a bad QB but that would affect all the numbers across the board.
C. Brown 13
Stonum, Webb, Cox, Shaw, 0
I'm not so sure about including plays on which a guy is bracketed and the quarterback is just chucking the ball away in the general direction of the player, but that's an interesting metric to track throughout the season.
Back to the larger point: please read the guidelines before posting up a diary (they're right above the text entry area), and let's try to keep that area of the site extremely high-value. I'm moving anything that seems like it was dashed off in ten minutes without thought. FWIW.
Speaking of high-value diaries. Steve Sharik's got an initial defensive analysis:
Obi Ezeh made a very nice tackle on a WR screen, but he still has a ways to go. His reaction time needs to improve. Example, 2nd play of the game, the B gap window opens right in front of him and there is no lead blocker. This is LB 101. Open window = hit it. He should have hit the RB behind the LOS for, at worst, no gain and probably a 1-yard loss. Instead, he hit the RB at 2 yards and they ended up with a 3-yard gain.
I noticed this too and did not deploy a minus, but maybe I should go back and at least provide a –0.5. Sharik also mentions that Ezeh spent some time "catching" blockers, which is great lingo I will immediately imbibe for a frustratingly commonplace occurrence in the Life of Obi.
Stevie Brown is an OLB. He is not a hybrid player. The true hybrid player is the strong safety, Mike Williams. Sometimes he was at the LOS (line of scrimmage), and sometimes he was a deep safety.
No, Stevie Brown hasn't been playing anything except outside linebacker in anything I've gotten to in UFR, but one of the themes of the offseason was the multifaceted use of the word "hybrid" and how confusing everything got when you were trying to deploy it yourself. Brown's a hybrid in one sense because he's a tiny OLB who can reasonably cover a slot receiver, as he did on Western's first third-down attempt in the game, not because his position is particularly innovative. Maybe we can just call him a "mammal" instead, as opposed to ponderous, hibernation-prone dinosaur Johnny Thompson. (No offense meant to Thompson; he was just born 20 years too late to be an outside linebacker.)
Mwa ha ha ha. Yes, I am a sucker for teaching your children that the guy in the other uniform is evil and should be poisoned and then putting them on the internet in a fashion that will ruin their first dates for all time. Yes, doing this will get your video on MGoBlog:
You, out there with the kid: cute violence == pub.
Refutin'. More parents chime in on The Article In Question:
"Personally, knowing Coach Rod, I don't think there's any truth to it, I don't think there's any merit in it," Michael [Shaw, father of Mike Shaw] said.
Aand Carletta Moore, mother of redshirt freshman TE Brandon, FTW:
"First of all, it's wrong, because I went straight to the source -- I went straight to Brandon -- and it's a rumor," Carletta said. "My thought on it -- the devil has a job to do, too, you know? That's just the way I see things. I don't think there's truth to that story at all. Coming from my son, there's no truth to that story."
Hey, I didn't say it.
The Wolverines are carrying nine defensemen on the roster right now: Chris Summers, Steve Kampfer, Brandon Burlon, Chad Langlais, Tristin Llewellyn, Scooter Vaughan, Greg Pateryn, Lee Moffie, and Eric Elmblad. The first four are locks to be in the lineup every night, barring injury. There are fewer games to go around (at least in theory) for the third-pairing defensemen since Kampfer and Burlon are healthy after missing a combined 24 games a year ago.
Wow. Vaughn's been dogged with persistent rumors of a move to forward, but they could hypothetically redshirt Moffie if he wanted to be redshirted. (Moffie wasn't drafted by the NHL, FWIW, so he might be amenable to that in an effort to get more playing time overall.) The upshot is that Bryan Hogan is the hockey team's Brandon Graham—he cannot get injured—and that the team looks like it should own again, though hopefully with better luck in the tournament this time.
Michigan Monday is always more fun after Michigan does not soil itself:
True freshman Tate Forcier got the start at quarterback and looked…well…he looked…okay, I’ll just come out and say it, he looked really, really good. There, I said it. He finished the game 13-20 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards. Forcier looked completely comfortable throughout the entire game. He was poised and knew where to go with the ball just about every time.
Whole thing worth a read; skepticism expressed at what happens when Michigan gets "punched in the mouth" next week, which is fine metaphorically except for the fact that Notre Dame is not really a punch-you-in-the-mouth sort of team unless we get a –then-run-away-and-hide appended to it.
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.
Site note: The number of people who have breached the 20-point barrier that puts people in special roles seems like enough to implement a first moderation step around here: n00bs can't start forum threads, though they can reply to them and comment on whatever. I'm a little worried this might cut off some useful stuff but the recent trend of people signing up and trolling needs reigning in. Consider it experimental.
Also, I'm watching a DVRed copy of the Brazil-USA game in about ten minutes, so content will be a little late this afternoon.
Nonwukaife. So… yeah. TX DE/LB Holmes Onwukaife tried to commit to Michigan a couple days ago but has apparently been denied. Earlier in the year the Travis Williams situation prompted some navel-gazing around these parts, with the upshot being Rodriguez's offer cannon giving me the heebie-jeebies, but this doesn't bother me that much.
Williams was told to wait for other guys to make decisions, basically, which means his offer was not actually an offer. Onwukaife saw two guys commit to his position, then was told the "barn is full; how about middle linebacker?" That's unavoidable, and Michigan tried to make room for him by offering to recruit him at another position.
What does bother me a little: 1) I wrote up a "Hello: Holmes Onwukaife" post which is now useless and 2) in the course of it I convinced myself I liked him a little better than Paskorz. C'est la vie.
Say what, son? Mike Brey, head coach of the fightin' flameouts at Notre Dame:
Notre Dame Mike Brey joked Tuesday that he knows of a surefire way to make certain the Fighting Irish don't have another midseason swoon like last season.
"If we could play in the Big Ten, maybe that would help us a little bit," he said.
Help you do what, exactly? Notre Dame was 1-2 against the Big Ten last year with the win against conference punching bag Indiana and losses against middle-of-the-pack Ohio State and eighth-place Penn State. Big Ten bashing is so ingrained these days that it gets invoked even when it makes zero sense.
Adventures in unwise bets. At Blogs With Balls I saw Orson Swindle pick up a slider, see that it had a tasteless slice of American cheese on it, panic, and then attempt to offload it on a cast of thousands. So I know this to be true:
We hate cheese. It’s not lactose intolerance, but rather a lifelong dislike so intense that our sister used to chase us with pieces of it. We can’t eat it on anything, and the smell of it cooking will drive us out of a room.
So this seems exceptionally unwise:
if Lane Kiffin is still coach at Tennessee in three years, we volunteer to eat a 6 oz piece of cheese on film to commemorate the occasion. The exact variety shall be left up to relevant experts, though really if Joel wants us to eat limburger so ripe it can hold up liquor stores at knifepoint after hotwiring a car, that’s what we’ll eat, even if we end up vomiting up a spleen over it. That’s how convinced we are that Kiffin will fail.
Three years? I, like the rest of the sports blogosphere without a closet full of dayglo orange, am convinced that Lane Kiffin is going to break John L Smith's records for hilarious failure, but even John L Smith lasted four years at State. Maybe if Kiffin was inheriting an unwrecked car, and maybe if he was at a place that had a quick trigger finger, this would be plausible, but, man… it's really hard to get fired in three years.*
*(I'd like Notre Dame fans to know that I excised a terribly funny Willingham-at-ND cheapshot here. Let's hold hands and get ice cream.)
Lacrosse fight. Black Shoe Diaries posted a thing about how Michigan was screwed if they took their dominant club lacrosse program varsity, which Varsity Blue responded to, which brought forth a BSD riposte, and, well, here we are. The main bone of contention revolves around if Brother Rice is freakin' awesome or not, and if Michigan can sustain a competitive lacrosse program on the backs of local talent.
I'm just, all, like… when has Michigan had trouble recruiting privileged kids from New York? People call Alice Lloyd "Lloyd Island," after all. If Michigan has a varsity lacrosse team they'll probably suck up their share of recruits and be competitive.
Etc.: The USA's World Cup bid has slashed 27 venues from its list, but Michigan Stadium is still standing; add Florida State to the teams that run the 4-3 under Greg Robinson is installing at Michigan.