Per Tim's press conference twitter, David Molk has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Here's a kitten:
Feeling better? No? Oh.
I assume Michigan will go back to the line configuration they used last month when Molk was out with a broken foot. Left to right, that was Ortmann, Schilling, Moosman, Huyge, and Dorrestein. First guy off the bench now is probably John Ferrara, who saw some time in the Iowa game when Huyge wasn't playing well or had a minor injury.
Though Molk missed a ton of time and saw only three plays before getting knocked out against Penn State, he's not eligible for a medical redshirt. One play against PSU killed any possibility of that, and medical redshirts are only available for players who haven't already taken a normal redshirt. There is some possibility the NCAA might provide a hardship waiver if Molk suffers another season-ending injury, but even that's doubtful.
Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.
Rating: 3.5 of 5.
|Mark Ortmann||Sr.*||Steve Schilling||Jr.*||David Molk||So.*||David Moosman||Sr.*||Mark Huyge||So.*|
|Perry Dorrestein||Jr.*||Ricky Barnum||Fr.*||Rocko Khoury||Fr.*||John Ferrara||Jr.*||Patrick Omameh||Fr.*|
|Taylor Lewan||Fr.||Tim McAvoy||Sr.*||--||--||Quinton Washington||Fr.||Michael Schofield||Fr.|
Last year I grimaced at a two-deep that contained four freshmen, one of whom was slated to start, and one player (Steve Schilling) with an iota of starting experience and gave the sorry bunch the most well-deserved 1 rating since… well, 3000 words earlier when I slapped the dread number on the quarterbacks.
For six games this was painfully accurate. The Utah game was grim all around but perhaps grimmest on the offensive line:
Offensive line: their overall suck was obviously part of the gameplan in a huge way; I expect that will seriously impinge on Michigan’s attempts to forge an offense all year. Like 2005 except worse.
This persisted and persisted and we can skip the gory details but then something funny happened at about the same time Brandon Minor ascended to the starting tailback job: they got sort of competent. Let's hit this up one last time: over the last six games of the season Michigan outrushed a hypothetical average team by 25%. They didn't do this by piling on inordinate numbers of carries. If Michigan had extended that performance over the course of a full season they would have been 30th in rushing nationally.
This year, every single player who saw a snap last year is back. Intermittent starter Tim McAvoy has been booted to third-string, and Steve Schilling is no longer making a go of it at tackle, where he cannot pass block. Perhaps best of all, there are actual backups.
The line already took its quantum leap forward midway through last year and will be limited in certain spots, but further progress should see them end up… good? Yeah, maybe.
Rating: 3 of 5.
Fifth-year senior Mark Ortmann returns at left tackle. Jake Long he is not. Ortmann picked up his share of negatives in pass protection last year, most notably against Penn State when he was –5 on a day when Michigan only got to 21 total pass-pro points. The minuses came on two players where Ortmann was "beaten badly by [Maurice] Evans"; the latter resulted in a game-killing sack/fumble. The next week against Michigan State he picked up a –6:
Ortmann(-2) totally smoked by a blindside rusher… Ortmann(-2) took a poor angle downfield, though, and the MLB beats him, prompting Threet to pitch it despite a State LB having decent contain. … Ortmann and McAvoy just run by an MSU linebacker … A three-man rush; Ortmann's guy spins inside of him and dives at Threet's feet [to sack] … Ortmann(-2) beaten pretty badly [on a sack].
It wasn't all bad—there were a couple of good plays sprinkled in there—but the end result was "I'd be surprised to see Ortmann keep his job once Dorrestein is healthy." I was surprised, it turned out. Ortmann was an unquestioned starter through spring but it would be a Joppru-level breakthrough for him to become even an honorable-mention all conference sort.
Being functional and unremarkable is a good target for Ortmann this year; his upside is more Adam Stenavich than Long.
Right tackle, on the other hand, is a battle that promises to go until kickoff of the Western game and probably beyond. Redshirt freshman Patrick Omameh was everyone's heavy leader until a week before the spring game, when redshirt sophomore Mark Huyge was surprisingly inserted into the starting lineup. Until that point Huyge, a guy who was considering MAC offers before Michigan came along, had been an afterthought. Huyge got good reviews, albeit against undaunting competition, and is your tentative opening-day starter.
It's worth pointing out that Huyge, like stating center David Molk, was recruited by Michigan after they implemented Mike Debord's zone-heavy ground game and is thus more likely to fit in with the spread 'n' shred than guys in the classes above them. It's too bad that line class consisted of two-count-'em-two players.
Neither tackle is likely to be a standout—all Big Ten is not happening—but there are options and backups and they're entering year two of the Barwis program and year two of the same offensive scheme and we should see a considerable step forward from this position in the run game. Last year, Michigan's outsize zones never got outside because the tackles were getting pushed back, which led to a lot of plays where Moundros shot outside aimlessly as the player he was supposed to be blocking for was forced to cut it up. A large number of Slaton's big plays came from getting outside the tackle, and Michigan should see at least a few instances where they successfully spring Shaw or Brown outside this year.
Pass blocking might be more problematic. Ortmann struggled some last year and the right tackle will be a new starter. There will be some ugly sacks against top-flight defensive ends.
|Clearing for McGuffie|
|Sustained POA block|
|Frowns: Toledo holding|
Rating: 4 of 5.
Steve Schilling's long-overdue move to guard promises to end the parade of ineffective LGs Michigan deployed last year. Last year they tried Tim McAvoy, John Ferrara, and even obvious tackle Mark Ortmann there before going with Schilling after the Illinois game. Schilling was needed at tackle soon after and moved back out. Ortmann's one-game experiment ended with a –6 in pass protection, an de- and impressively large number for an interior linemen. Ferrara was a defensive tackle weeks before the season. And McAvoy was the reason Ortmann and Ferrara were tried out. Anything that looks like a steady starter will be a massive upgrade.
Meanwhile, Schilling probably should have been a guard from day one. His two years starting at tackle featured plenty of pass protection struggles—he racked up a record –12 against Vernon Gholston as a freshman. By the Purdue game last year I'd just about given up on the idea of Schilling as a tackle:
I am leery of both tackles these days, BTW, and wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of reconfiguration that sees Schilling slide inside to guard next year.
Lo, it has come to pass. As a tackle, Schilling hasn't had the opportunity to display the athleticism that got him five stars at the fervent attention of USC when he was a recruit, but it still exists and after two years in Michigan's new-look strength and conditioning program he should be about as strong and agile as he'll get.
What Michigan needs from Schilling is pancaked linebackers, and while he hasn't proven he can do that quite yet, he is a guy entering his third year starting that has all the guru approval in the world (for what little that means for linemen). Signs point to above-average, with "meh" and All Big Ten the ends of the reasonable spectrum of expectations.
|Sealing vs ND|
|Doubling ND wsg Molk|
|Good downfield stuff|
David Moosman returns at right guard. Like everyone at guard last year, he had some issues finding and taking out linebackers downfield—there's a Picture Pages with an example—but he wasn't obviously bad. This made him the line's best player early until the guy I am most unreasonably eeee about on the team came into his own. (That would be David Molk, about whom more next.)
The slightly problem is that Moosman didn't seem to improve much as the season wore on. He was just an okay player the whole year; in context that was a lot more impressive early than late. Another year like last, where he's functional but unremarkable, is on the docket.
Moosman is a really smart guy, for what it's worth, and not "for a football player."
This blog fell a little in love with center David Molk as the season progressed and Molk started anchoring better against defensive tackles 50 pounds heavier than he was. The affair started in the second game of the year when Molk successful impeded the progress of some MAC defensive tackles…
I thought David Molk was great a week after being hurled back into the ballcarrier more than once. Against Miami he consistently got across the face of the defensive tackle lined up to the playside, allowing the guard a free release into the second level where he would either whack a linebacker and someone would run for 20 yards or whiff that linebacker and Michigan would get zero.
…a week after getting Sam-owned against Utah:
The lingering fear is that this is more a function of the opponent than any great leap forward. In retrospect, against Utah Molk was getting the same excellent position on his man but after he got that position the DT picked him up and dropped him in the RB’s lap.
|Tough reach vs ND|
|Frowns: MLB whiff|
|Rare win v Newkirk|
|Sealing playside DTs|
|More of that|
|Textbook reach block|
The next week against ND, Molk, Moosman, and McAvoy were named "heroes" for consistently blowing up the interior of the ND defense; the UFR section titled simply "McGuffie!" immediately shot credit to the guys on the inside:
Michigan had great success with the zone stretch and occasional dive because Molk and either McAvoy or Moosman spent the day crushing the playside DT downfield.
It wasn't to last, though. Wisconsin's veteran defensive tackles "murdered" the interior line against both pass and run. By that point there was a pattern: the Michigan interior line was good, even great, against substandard opponents but could not cope with big, veteran DTs. This held true until the Penn State game, when Michigan and Molk went up against one of the best defenses in the conference and at the end of it Molk ended up in the "heroes" list. He even got his own Picture Pages:
He got dinged later in the year for being small, but in a system like this where he's reach-blocking all day his agility is an asset. Time and again against Penn State he successful executed these blocks, springing people into the secondary. Against Notre Dame he did the same thing.
The issues are obvious, though: too many missed blocks, and too many blocks where he's just not strong enough to deal with his man. But he's a redshirt freshman; strength should come.
I like him. I like David Molk. I think he can be very good at football. Is this clear? Probably not. What Michigan needs from Molk this year is twenty more pounds, more familiarity with the offense, and that's it.
BONUS: I don't remember any bad snaps last year except maybe one or two in the Northwestern game, when it was eminently forgivable.
Backups And Whatnot
Oh praise Jesus: there are some. Last year when Ortmann got dinged up early in the year, Michigan actually unearthed walk-on Bryant Nowicki to play left tackle until they could tell Perry Dorrestein to play on the other side of the line the following week.
Dorrestein and the loser of the pitched Omameh-Huyge battle will be the primary backups at tackle. If Huyge's grip on the job remains solid, the bet here is that Omameh flips to left tackle by midseason in preparation for 2010 and Dorrestein returns to the right, where the coaches apparently prefer him.
On the interior, redshirt freshmen Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury have been praised regularly in practice reports and are the top options at guard and center, respectively, in the event of an injury to one of the starters. Barnum's position is less solid than Khoury, as he's been afflicted with frequent minor injuries thus far in his Michigan career and missed most of the spring with a wrist issue. Also Khoury's the only guy around who's been snapping consistently.
Your other non-freshman options are John Ferrara, the converted defensive tackle who the coaches are keeping on the offensive side of the ball despite some serious depth issues at DT, tragedy-stricken Elliot Mealer, and journeyman Tim McAvoy. Of the group, Ferrara is the most likely to make an appearance. The coaches tried everything in their power to remove McAvoy from the starting lineup last year and moved Schilling inside to finally solve that particular issue. Mealer spent all of last year rehabbing a shoulder injury and is probably a year away from seriously competing for a job.
There are indeed freshmen, but if Rodriguez managed to redshirt all six guys from last year's class despite the patchwork nature of last year's line it will take truly epic misfortune for any of the incoming kids to see the field this year.
One man's guess as to the second unit: Omameh, Ferrara, Khoury, Barnum, Dorrestein.
O'Neill, a Grand Haven product and the younger brother of current Bronco tight end James O'Neill, said Saturday that he's been granted his release to WMU and will join the football program this August.
There are quotes about O'Neill thinking he fits better at Western and all that. From what'd I'd heard (repeatedly and well in advance of O'Neill's transfer) it wasn't so much an issue of fit but one of technique and talent.
Eyeing talent. John Beilein swooped in on Evan Smotrycz ten seconds before he blew up, and there have been some scouting reports on Tim Hardaway Jr in a similar vein. The Chicago Sun-Times reports back from a local AAU tourney:
Speaking of the Mac Irvin Fire, the Hoops Report continues to be impressed with Tim Hardaway, Jr. The Class of 2010 2-guard out of Miami will be a perfect fit at Michigan. If Hardaway were in the state of Illinois he would certainly be one of the top five prospects in the senior class and probably check in at No. 3 overall behind Richmond and Leonard.
That's quite a statement. Illinois has nine kids in the Rivals 150, and if they happened to agree with the Sun-Times guys' assessment they'd have to slot Hardaway somewhere between #61, where Leonard sits, and #86, where the next Illinois player—PG Crandall Head—is ranked.
"He's done the unexpected, and he's really turned it up a notch," Daniels said. "At some big-time events, he proved himself against top competition. His performance at the NBPA camp was tremendous, and he showed parts of his game I didn't know he had."
Smotrycz's ability to handle the ball in the open floor and his passing ability was especially surprising.
"People are starting to catch on with him," said Daniels, who reiterated that Smotrycz is still solid with the Wolverines. "I'm sure some college coaches are sorry they missed out on him."
More of the same: skilled 6-9 forward who can handle, pass, and shoot.
Inflate, calculate. 1) Patrick Omameh is in engineering. 2) He is now much huger:
"I feel I play a whole lot stronger than when I came in, and I've put on about 30 pounds," Omameh said. "I weighed about 250-251 coming in, and the heaviest I've been since I've been here is 287. I still move as well as I ever did. ... I feel I'm ready to (compete for a starting job). Competition is always good."
Zounds. It says a lot about both Omameh and the shocking lack of depth on last year's offensive line that Omameh was on the travel team at whatever his weight was mid-season last year, which was not 287, or probably anywhere particularly close.
Boise? We will know about Boise State as the 2010 opener soon:
Boise State is close to finalizing a deal to fill the final slot in its 2010 nonconference schedule, and all signs point toward it not being UC Davis. With the Broncos already full up with nonconference games in weeks two through four, the thinking is that Boise State will be scheduling its big-time opponent for opening week, September 4, 2010.
The announcement should be sometime this week. Though Michigan, as discussed earlier, would make sense as an opponent I haven't heard anything specific in this instance. There have been general rumblings that Michigan is looking to upgrade the nonconference schedule a little bit with respectable-not-enormous opponents to go with ND and the usual rotation of MAC opponents and whatnot.
Assessed. Michigan has come in for evaluation by the good Doctor, and the upshot is pretty much what everyone's upshot is: eh, 7-5 and an uninspiring bowl game against an ACC also-also-ran. There's not a whole lot to disagree with, but I do think this is an excessively pessimistic take on the offensive line:
The '08 offensive line was an unmitigated, all-hands-on-deck disaster that sent the offense spiraling into one of the deepest, darkest holes in the universe -- last in the conference in passing, pass efficiency, scoring and total offense, and truly among the worst overall units in the country. So this is one area where returning seven different players who started multiple games last year -- four of whom began the season as backups, including one who entered fall camp as a defensive tackle -- is equal parts blessing and burden.
It may be some comfort that this isn't a young group: Six of the seven returnees, all but redshirt sophomore center Dave Molk, are in their fourth or fifth years, and should be further whittled into the nimble zone blockers Rodriguez's scheme requires, as opposed to the steamrolling grinders they were recruited to be.
This has been asserted before: there was a major difference between the all-and-by-all-we-mean-desperately-few-hands-on-deck disaster that the offensive line certainly was early in the season and rather non-disastrous performance of the offensive line the second half of the season. The tackles' pass protection and guards' second-level blocking remained issues, but those issues should both be mitigated by Steve Schilling's move inside. And to those seven returners Michigan adds five able bodies (the four redshirt freshmen and injury-stricken Mark Huyge), amongst them the two tackles who allowed Michigan to move Schilling inside and salve the most consistently irritating rash of a position.
I use the same heuristic DocSat does here—large numbers of returning starters are not necessarily good when they are upperclassmen who have proven extremely poor—in season previews, but usually reserve it for the Indianas for the world. I don't think it applies here. Michigan doesn't just return a bunch of sucky players, it adds significant depth and enters its second year in a new system on and off the field. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance.
A long email about scheduling in parts:
1. Martin maintains that they need the revenue from the home games to help out with the budget. Seems to me Martin is running the department like a business. That being the case, if you own a business that has a number of different departments and some of those departments are not producing revenue, aren't there three options? 1. Try to increase revenue in the revenue producing departments, which he's trying to do. 2. Try to increase revenue/cut costs in those departments that are not producing revenue. 3. Ax those departments that are not producing revenue.
The third option is rather severe since it is college athletics we're talking about. So I'd be interested to see/know what Martin is doing to try and increase revenues in the other sports as well as reduce costs in the other sports. Hopefully, if Beilien keeps the basketball moving in the right direction that will help the revenue stream coming in from bball.
Michigan doesn't have much leverage via which to increase revenues in other sports. When you're trying to fill Crisler by selling five-dollar seats to nonconference games there's not much you can do to milk the season ticket holders without risking rebellion. And those home nonconference games aren't raking it in like a football game would. Hockey's about break-even now and stuck there; everything else, well… revenue is sparse.
As far as reducing costs in other sports: Michigan fancies itself to be Stanford of the East when it comes to its athletic department and wants each and every one of its programs to be competitive, many of them nationally. Mike Bottom, the swim coach, is probably making bank relative to his peers. Same with the women's soccer coach, who is late of the national team. For most Michigan fans the only benefit this produces is a ceremony wherein a bunch of teams you've never seen walk across the Michigan Stadium turf after winning the conference.
But they're not really the problem. This is a situation analogous to pro sports, where people complain about how much money the players are making as if it has an impact on ticket prices when in reality the relationship is reversed. Michigan has been very good at extracting revenue and that money goes somewhere. In 2003, Michigan paid athletic department employees a total of 19 million dollars. They budgeted 27 million for 2008. That's twice the revenue of one home game.
Would life be vastly different at major college athletic programs without the 12th game? No. Coaches would have slightly less spectacular salaries. The end.
2. The thing that gets me with the scheduling is why does he feel the need to schedule 1-AA schools? If he'd do the schedule a few years in advance, he probably wouldn't have to. With the ND contract, ND will be on the schedule for a while as well as a couple MAC schools. Why not look to the some of the other lower level D1 conferences for games? The lower level Conference USA schools, some lower level WAC schools and maybe some Sunbelt schools. I'm guessing a good amount of those schools wouldn't mind having a visit to Ann Arbor on their schedule to use it as a recruiting tool.
I understand the reasoning for wanting as many home games as possible, but waiting until there's less then a year away from the start of the season to finalize your schedule really leaves you with limited options. It's poor planning on Martin's part imo.
To the average fan there isn't much difference between UMass and Middle Tennessee or Memphis or San Jose State, and, honestly there isn't much of one to me. They're just teams Michigan should crush no matter what. They'll have a tepid crowd with plenty of no-shows, be televised on the BTN, and be immediately forgotten unless something terrible happens.
In that context, I understand reaching for I-AA teams. They're cheaper and the chance you get upset is lower. The issue here isn't really which overmatched team you bring in, it's the entire concept. People would be rolling their eyes just as fervently if it was Louisiana-Monroe or Idaho being kicked around as a potential opponent.
I can't speak to the poor planning, as I don't know the specifics of what's going on.
p.s. - If RR continues to be successful in promoting the spring game, could that help with freeing up money for home and homes? Even if you're only charging $10, if you get 60-70,000 people through the gate by the time you add on concessions, parking, etc. that's probably over a million dollars in revenue.
Probably not. Michigan got 50k this year for free… how many would they get if they ticked people off by charging?
I thought the big fix to the nonconference problem would come from television revenues, but Bruce Madej says that all revenues, including nonconference ones, are split evenly with conference members. So Indiana is making just as much from Texas-OSU as Ohio State. This is obviously a huge disincentive to schedule a real opponent.
This question is another question and not an insane leap from Scott above:
First, what differentiates an OL recruit/player from tackle/guard/center? Right or left side? Certainly some players can handle multiple positions, but how is their ideal position determined?
Second, why are slot receivers typically short? Isn't the key attribute being fast? Would an equally fast but tall player work just as well or better?
One: Mostly height. Ideal tackle height is from 6'6" to 6'9". Interior linemen can be much shorter: David Molk is listed at 6'2" and may be even smaller.
Why should tackles be so tall? Height usually brings long arms with it, and long arms help contain outside pass rushers and generally do wonders in pass protection. Michael Lewis tackles (ha!) the subject in The Blind Side:
The ideal left tackle was big, but a lot of people were big. What set him apart was his more subtle specifications. He was wide in the ass and massive in the thighs: the girth of his lower body lessened the likelihood that Lawrence Taylor, or his successors, would run right over him. He had long arms: pass rushers tried to get in tight to the blocker's body, then spin off of it, and long arms helped to keep them at bay. He had giant hands, so that when he grabbed ahold of you, it meant something.
But size along couldn't cope with the threat to the quarterback's blind side, because that threat was also fast. The ideal left tackle also had great feet. Incredibly nimble and quick feet. Quick enough feet, ideally, that the the idea of racing him in a five-yard dash made the team's running backs uneasy. He had the body control of a ballerina and the agility of a basketball player. The combination was incredibly rare. And so, ultimately, very expensive.
I've seen Jake Long, perhaps the ideal left tackle, in action and at no point did he remind me of a ballerina but set aside that bit of fluffery and there you go.
On the other hand, in the interior space is restricted. Unless something strange happens no one is going to run right by you, and therefore you can put guys who are just about as nimble but squatter and more powerful there. In a traditional running game* guards and centers would like very much to take a defensive lineman and blow him off the ball. That requires leverage: the #1 line cliché of all time is "low man wins". Being (sort of) short is a head start on being low. Think of Pat Massey, and then think of Terrance Taylor.
As far as right or left side: at tackle the guy on the left is the star because he's protecting the quarterback's blindside (unless that QB is left handed). So the best pass protection guys go there, the guys with the most experience and most ideal tackle physique. The guy on the right has a lot of responsibility there too but usually ends up being less slanted towards pass protection just because most teams don't have two Jake Longs.
*(What about Michigan? Michigan's more about cutting linemen off and getting guys in space against one guy who's not quick enough to cut up with you. Rather than driving the defender backwards your main priority is to either 1) get on the right side of him and prevent yourself from getting plowed into the tailback or 2) take your man's existing motion to the ball and shove him right past the action. Guards are still shorter because it's a lot easier to find a 6'3" guy with the requisite agility than a 6'6" guy.)
Two: The key attribute in a slot receiver is not raw speed but quickness. While a slot receiver is rarely going to get his tiny little legs moving at full cartoon speed, he is going to have 210-pound linebackers attempting to put their helmets through his ribcage plenty. Once you catch that swing pass or bubble screen, the ability to juke the first guy out of his jock is way more important than what your velocity is after ten yards in a straight line.
I'm sure Rodriguez wouldn't mind a 6-foot slot a la Peter Warrick, but those guys are rare. 5'8" guys with dreads who can teleport short distances are in better supply and less demand. So it's considerably easier to get the best or second-best 5'8" guy in the country, as Michigan did with Jeremy Gallon, than the best 6-foot one.
The re-rank. More on Evan Smotrycz and the hype train a-buildin':
"I was pretty impressed with him; he's pretty tough," Daniels said. "I heard the rumblings about him. He was known as a guy that can really shoot the ball, and I hadn't seen him before so he was a priority guy for us." …
"I expected him to be able to shoot the ball well from deep," Daniels said. "I was surprised with how he attacked the rim and surprised with his toughness. Against Jayvaughn Pinkston, one of the tougher guys in the class, Evan more than held his own. He mixed it up inside, and I was thoroughly impressed with him."
It's getting to be that time when the scouting sites put their rankings where their mouths are, and the first vote is in. Scout has slid Smotrycz up to #17 amongst power forwards. He still a three star, but he's right on the verge of a fourth. The #16 guy, Melvin Tabb, is #73 on Scout's preliminary list of 75 kids, so Smotrycz is probably around #80. That's a big step forward from unranked and virtually unknown.
(Side note: one of the Rivals mods posted that Prep Spotlight shot Smotrycz all the way to #46 in their latest rankings, but there's no way to link—Prep Spotlight's website is defunct and it exists only as a magazine.)
The flameout. The Free Press considers Michigan's 2005 recruiting class, which turned into Mario Manningham, Terrance Taylor, and not much else. This is territory this blog has gone over in detail. The 2004 and 2005 classes, in summary:
Michigan got killed by back-to-back classes that saw a ton of attrition at key spots. Basically the only thing Michigan has to show from the 2004 and 2005 classes is the defensive line, which was Big Ten championship caliber.
The rest of the team? Is not.
By the time Rodriguez arrived at Michigan the excellent recruiting classes of the late Carr era had already been decimated, and few of the departures afterward were unusual. The attrition was worst on the offensive line, which was terrible early until finding some sort of footing as the season approached its merciful end. Speaking of…
The WTF. The Wall Street Journal puts together a piece on offensive line experience and its correlation with football success—strong—and just as you're bracing for Michigan to find itself on the face-punched list you get this shocking table:
|TEAMS TO WATCH||O-LINE STARTS||TEAMS TO WORRY ABOUT||O-LINE STARTS|
|Virginia Tech||100||West Virginia||25|
|Florida St.||86||Penn State||39|
Holy hotpants. I guess that's what happens when you return every single player on the line. A small caveat for the hope implied here: a number of those starts won't see the field as Ferrara and McAvoy get booted to the bench in favor of Huyge or Omameh.
Other bits of interest:
- If Penn State's offense undergoes an inexplicable collapse after returning Royster and Clark, the line might be why. Or the vast talent deficit at WR.
- If Notre Dame can't run the ball this year they never will.
- Remember how everyone was predicting one last bash for West Virginia followed by a swift, Bill Stewart-spurred immolation? Yeah.
The confession. File this under "things you already knew":
“Last year all I did was supervise. I was more of an observer,” Paterno said of his 11-2 team that lost to Southern California in the Rose Bowl. “I have a heck of a staff. Those two years I didn’t do much. Last year we had a pretty good football team, and I didn’t do much.”
So all those shots of Paterno sitting in the press box never talking into his for-show headset meant what we thought they meant: Tom Bradley is Penn State's head coach, and a pretty good one from appearances. (HT: EDSBS.)
The mocking. This goofy video put together by a bunch of kids is more entertaining than it has any right to be:
They also listed it as a reply to 'Jimmy Clausen for Heisman,' which never fails to rope me in for the whole 2:16.
The enemy. Sunday Morning Quarterback surveys the great gray menace:
This is definitely a "rebuilding" year with a lot of uncertainty on paper, destined for the fringe of the top-10 in all the preseason magazines -- and still, Ohio State is likely to be favored in every game except USC, with Penn State serving as the toss-up for the auto bid to the Rose Bowl (where OSU, for all its success, hasn't been in more than a decade). I'm willing to project a conference loss, although I don't know where it will come from if not the Nittany Lions, and another 10-2 effort will be hard for the BCS to ignore.
The whole thing is, as always, a good thing to spend your time reading.