here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
|WHAT||Michigan vs #10 Ohio State|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
November 21st, 2009
|THE LINE||Ohio State –12*|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on ABC|
|WEATHER||About 50, mostly sunny|
Run Offense vs. Ohio State
Michigan's faced four good or better rushing defenses this year and the overall trend is not great:
Iowa's the worst in that bunch at #43. Michigan's incredibly hot start has fallen off with injuries of varying severity to Molk, Brown, Shaw, Dorrestein, and Minor; the worst two of those will play a major factor Saturday as Molk and Minor will watch from the bench.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has crushed all comers. They are #4 in rushing defense, though it should be noted that there aren't a whole lot of great rushing offenses in the league. Wisconsin had the closest thing to a good day, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 38 attempts, but from the stats the bread-and-butter wasn't working particularly well: John Clay eked out 59 yards on 20 carries. Wisconsin got up to 4.1 with peripheral contributions from Tolzien scrambles and a number of successful carries from David Gilreath. Also Wisconsin's rushing offense is nothing like Michigan's. The closest analogue on Ohio State's schedule is Illinois, which managed to grind out 3.6 YPC excluding sacks.
Ohio State is probably going to make the same bet Wisconsin did by trusting their defensive line to beat the Michigan offensive line, which will allow them to put six guys in the box, take away the bubble, and still keep two deep safeties. If Michigan's going to move the ball at all they'll have to get the creases they couldn't against Wisconsin or break out some new-fangled stuff that gets Ohio State moving away from the ball. And it might be tiny, zippy Vincent Smith leading the way. Carlos Brown might be more likely to break a long one, but I think I'd rather have the guy who can turn –4 yards into 4 against a defense that's not likely to let a big one break. So… true freshman n00b against #4 rushing defense in the country.
Key Matchup: Fancy Schemes vs Fundamental Stuff. Michigan's line is going to get overrun; it'll take a major tactical victory—one that may not even be possible given the personnel—to get a bunch of yards.
Pass Offense vs. Ohio State
Michigan's taken some steps forward the past two weeks as Tate Forcier has performed well against decent-to-good defenses:
His efficiency rating the past two weeks would be top 15 nationally extrapolated over the entire season, which is something you absolutely can't do but hey it's fun to pretend you can. Stat magic or no, those numbers and those performances represent a significant improvement over an eh Illinois game and poor outings versus Iowa and Penn State. Maybe those were injury-induced? More likely they were freshman-induced; Forcier noted in a press conference that the proverbial slow down occurred somewhere in the Illinois game and since then he's shown it.
Michigan still has issues elsewhere: they have no real deep threat, though they did pop a couple guys open against Wisconsin and had some success bombing it late against Illinois, and can't pass protect worth a damn. Against Wisconsin Michigan resorted to a ton of max-protect schemes where the line would slide one way and tailbacks would pick up DEs/blitzers to one side; this worked but limited Forcier's options significantly. A repeat performance is in order against a ravenous Ohio State defense; when Michigan attempts to hit it deep there will be seven guys blocking.
For Ohio State's part, they've also obliterated opposing pass offenses except against Purdue, where Joey Elliot was 31 of 50 for 280 yards. Can Michigan imitate Purdue's quick-strike dinky attack? Actually… yeah, maybe. Forcier's an accurate short passer who can throw on the run and Roy Roundtree has emerged into a serious option in the middle of the field since Martavious Odoms came down with a knee injury. Greg Mathews is reliable, Hemingway is a good leaper, and when Koger isn't dropping easy passes he's making spectacular ones. With Ohio State struggling a tiny bit in short zones and man-to-man with their nickelback, Michigan might be able to move the ball from time to time by having Forcier zip it around the field. Someone or something will blow up consistently enough for this to be a sputtering sort of game plan, but Michigan's probably got to start here, attempting to pass to set up the run.
Key Matchup: Forcier versus Not Getting Nervous. Big game for the kid here; he's made significant strides the past two weeks and if he can put together a good game against this defense as a true freshman there will be something to get excited about going into 2010.
Run Defense vs Ohio State
Let's repurpose a table from last week that purported to show Michigan was decent against traditional running attacks:
[Note: QB/WR runs excised for tighter focus on 'rock' style running.]
John Clay went for 156 yards at 5.8 a pop; so much for that. The reason Michigan was pretty decent against the above three teams except when tackles were been missed or overrun was that they are not good at rushing; Wisconsin is. Ohio State's rushing offense is close to Wisconsin's statistically without the benefit of playing Michigan (yet), and it's coming on of late:
Michigan, meanwhile… well, you know. The defensive line is playing valiantly but one side of it is desperately undersized and the linebacker support is almost nonexistent. It's a really bad rushing defense, and chances are Ohio State may have noticed this. Expect them to pound and pound and pound until they crack through.
The edges will be under threat. Last week Wisconsin lined up in big sets that had Brandon Graham tucked inside tight ends and then attacked the outside time and again, exploiting Roh's youth, Brown's lack of size, and Smith's total uncertainty. With Terrelle Pryor and little in the way of pounding backs, Ohio State's best attacks will be to the outside; given the success of Juice Williams on simple veer plays that Michigan hasn't shown any ability to defend in two years Pryor figures to get his share of opportunities to run past linebackers nowhere near the, you know, ball.
Something similar to the Wisconsin game is in store: a number of good plays turned in by the defensive line followed up by crushing linebacker/safety errors that throw it all away.
Key Matchup: Linebackers showing up in the right hole/maintaining the correct option responsibility. Hey, it could happen.
Pass Defense vs Ohio State
Last week's prediction of doom over the middle may have gotten the main target wrong by picking Garrett Graham instead of Everyone, but it was on-point as far as the doom bit goes. Michigan can't cover anyone over the middle of the field, and when they go to man the safeties can't cover anyone anywhere.
But Michigan is going up against Jim Tressel, a guy who packed up shop after getting a two-score lead and threw the ball twice in the second half of the 2007 game. And his quarterback is erratic Terrelle Pryor, and almost the only way Ohio State can lose the game is by ending up –2 or worse in turnover margin, and really if I was him I'd just avoid anything remotely dangerous until you feel threatened, which probably doesn't ever actually occur. Terrelle Pryor's line from the Illinois game might be illuminating: 8 of 13 for 82 yards. Also, Ohio State never, ever throws to the tight end. So… yeah, Michigan might do okay here if the corners stick to the receivers and Pryor isn't permitted much time. They might also give up two 60-yard touchdowns, but first they'll have to make Ohio State throw.
When they do throw there's a fair chance that Brandon Graham makes Pryor eat turf. Though Ohio State is above average in sacks allowed that's because they've only thrown 261 times. Chances are that Pryor just runs up a gaping hole in the middle of the field, but, hey, you know. Whatever helps.
For his part, Pryor has been frustrating and inconsistent all year. He's 57th in passer efficiency—behind true freshman Forcier—and alternates NFL ropes with arm-punts. If—when—Michigan leaves guys wide open because they're freaking out about play action he can hit guys up, but every time he drops back to throw there's a chance of disaster. Actually… that goes for both teams.
Key Matchup: Making This Exist versus Not Making It Exist.
Ohio State's punt returns are average. The kick returns, though infrequent, have been pretty decent thanks in large part to a kick return touchdown in Ohio State's bizarre win over Wisconsin (note: after UFRing the UW game—offense is coming like Sunday or something—I think Wisconsin is obviously the best team in the league this year but for Tolzien's tendency towards interceptions). Punting is meh, and the starting kicker is out so we don't really know anything about the kicking game.
Michigan, again, should have a solid edge here, but as we've seen that's just not enough to overcome shortcomings elsewhere.
Key Matchup: CATCH THE DAMN BALL.
Abuse your kids' future psyches for Michigan == fame.
- The offensive line is as overrun as it appears they'll be.
- Michigan starts a freshman walk-on against Ohio State…
- …and he's not the most overmatched defender on the field.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Pryor is arrested for BEING IN A BAR before he is 21.
- Fairies drop from the sky and turn the Ohio State defensive line into eggplants.
- I'm banking on the fairies.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for We Won't Run, +1 for We Won't Pass, +1 for They Won't Pass… +1 for Because They Won't Have To, +1 for ).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +5 for Duh.)
Loss will cause me to... well, it will be over.
Win will cause me to... rush the field, probably. For real.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Thematically, this reminds me of the 2007 game a lot. In that one, Ohio State was not particularly confident in their quarterback but was in their defense, especially with Chad Henne's shoulder not containing his arm and the offensive line's failure to exist. So they just ran and ran and ran and eventually Wells broke a big one and that was it.
Michigan's better on offense than that team was if only because their quarterback is functional but they're way, way worse on defense. There should be more scoring but the final result will be the same: a game that Michigan is vaguely in for a half before a couple things break down, at which point they trail by two scores until time runs out.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Smith is the primary ballcarrier and ekes out 80 yards.
- Graham is sackless because Pryor throws like 15 times.
- I have lots of fun listening to the people around me.
- Ohio State, 30-14
I was standing in front of a big group of people in a bar in midtown New York City, and I knew that the year before I had wandered in in a suit and told them that this would be an off year for Michigan football because the quarterbacks were probably bad and the offensive line probably worse. That sounds right from 10,000 feet, but I'd splashed an Alamo Bowl logo up at the end of the presentation when I should have put up a map of Tajikistan underneath the title MOVE HERE IMMEDIATELY.
So I had a slide at the beginning that noted some of the things I'd been very wrong about the year before, and I noted my errors, asked for forgiveness, suggested that football was a crazy game, and promised them less than I'd promised the year before but more than they'd gotten. That seemed to go okay.
Around here, I asked Paul to splice together a bunch of highlights and set it to a song that seemed particularly apropos and posted it on the eve of the season. To call it hopeful sells it short. A bunch of good plays strung together that ignores last year's woe is hopeful. One that acknowledges them and then flashes to color when the good stuff kicks in is closer to an explicit promise.
It's not a surprise that as the season has dragged along, the team an increasingly unrecognizable piece of roadkill grinding away the remnants of a jaw along the highway of the Big Ten, that more than the occasional comment or email references "Sometimes When You're On" as a source of gallows humor. Sometimes there's no humor and the emailer is just lamenting the hope that has transubstantiated into misery. That's considerably worse.
Kennedy is dead and I'm sitting here telling anyone who will ask "things are going to be all right" and now, finally, it's not working. And deservedly so.
In 2002, I was in Ireland for the summer. I'd graduated from undergrad and had a chunk of money saved up from summers spent interning at engineering firms and my girlfriend of over a year had broken up with me in slow motion and I thought I'd have an adventure. I planned on working. A friend of mine had spent a chunk of time in Ireland working IT when jobs were available for anyone with working knowledge of a screwdriver, but the Celtic Tiger had imploded dramatically with the rest of the tech world in 2001 and I was reduced to wandering around wondering why the hell I needed a resume to pick plates up and put them other places. Surely there was some sort of spatial reasoning test that could be done on the fly.
So I didn't work. I rented a room in a Galway house shared by a bunch of marine biology students—when The Abyss was on TV, the rig-envy was palpable—and screwed around. One of the things I did was watch every game of the World Cup, because why the hell not? Ireland was in it after a famous upset of Holland, not that I knew about this, or how infrequent Irish World Cup appearances are, at the time. I got up at eight in the morning—impressive to me, at least—to watch them tie Cameroon in their first match.
The second match day was a huge, nerve-wracking one with the US taking on Portugal and Ireland staring down the Germans and freaking Oliver Kahn, the robot goalie. Kahn would become a personal sporting bête noire over the course of the tournament, a man worthy of his last name. He would win the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, the only time in World Cup history that the award has gone to a goalie. And his team didn't even win. He was good.
The USA could really use a win in their first match; Ireland just needed a draw with Saudi Arabia the last game on the schedule.
I debated heading down to the pub at eight in the morning, but eventually decided against it mostly because it was a twenty minute walk. But the US scored, and scored again, and scored again, and with the game 3-1 at halftime and my house abandoned I said "screw it" and spent halftime scurrying downtown. I watched Jeff Agoos score a spectacular own goal while nursing a pint of cider* in a moderately full pub. The USA won and that was well and good. For everyone else, it was a small moment of schadenfreude in before the main event.
So here's the main event: Ireland goes toe-to-toe with the Germans, putting more shots on goal but unable to crack Kahn. In the 19th minute enormous robot striker Miroslav Klose puts the Germans up, but from that moment on they're on the back foot. Ireland presses to no avail. Kahn seems everywhere. He makes three insane saves to keep Ireland off the board. I loathe him. I hate his incredibly German hair, and his insane excellence.
Then it's gone. Ninety minutes are over and they're just kicking it around in stoppage time. Ireland has made their desperate substitutions, sticking creaky old Niall Quinn, a 6'4" battleship of a target forward, out there in the vague hope he can get his head to the ball. In the 92nd minute some defender boots the ball upfield as people do at the end of the game when there's no time and no hope. Quinn finds this ball and flicks it down to an onrushing Robbie Keane. That bastard Kahn is out, though, out fast and in position and Keane has to shoot after one touch and the shot actually deflects off that fucking bastard Kahn…
You have no doubt experienced some variety of sports pandemonium in your life, but you probably haven't watched an entire country take the day off to drink next to the river. In the immediate aftermath I remember hugging some guy who looked like he was from Pakistan. I was instantly recognizable as an American, so maybe that made sense. Ever since, I've rooted for Kahn in his losing battle against preening Jens Lehman, and maybe that makes sense, too.
On Wednesday, Ireland missed the World Cup on the most flagrant handball since Diego Maradona.
It has not been a good fall. Since Michigan scraped by Indiana, the team they are vying with for outright possession of the Big Ten cellar, I haven't watched Michigan beat any team that plays at scholarship parity with them in two different sports. Football hasn't beaten a I-A team since September 26th. Hockey is currently languishing at 4-6 after consecutive sweeps at the hands of Miami and, of all teams, Michigan State. In that series, Corey Tropp scored in a game that finished 3-2. Hell, the one hockey game I've listened to on the radio this year was the dismal 2-0 defeat against Fairbanks to open the year.
It's been hard for me. In the past my strategy when sports were more pain than they're worth has been to disconnect as much as possible, but that's obviously not possible any more. So I've seen everything that's happened the last two years somewhere between four and eight times.
But it's been hard on everyone else, too. Johnny emerged from his slumber to write something beautiful about Brandon Minor…
On Saturday he will be there. Maybe not on Thursday or on Friday, but you don’t prepare for the deranged violence.
…and this is how life repays him:
David Molk (knee)
Brandon Minor (shoulder)
He sent me one of the semi-annual IMs we exchange to ask me what percent chance I put on Minor playing. I said "I don't know," and that was that. This is life at the bottom.
Everyone who's joked or not joked about "Sometimes When You're On" is hurt because their expectations have not been met, because they hoped for more. I've played a role in that, and for that I'm sorry. There are days when two minnows come up against world powers and win, or tie their asses off, though. When I went to RBUAS I saw that Jake and Mike and Chad had given way to a new era, however brief it will be:
A beautifully futile gesture. Johnny had the old guys up there forever, and it wasn't hard to figure out why. But what I said after the Notre Dame game still holds, even if it's cast in a different light by the events that followed: this is Michigan now. Though they're still plainly deficient, they'll be there Saturday. I don't know if things are going to be all right anymore. But I'll be there, too, and God help anyone who talks about "heart" within earshot.
Saturday contains itself. For three hours, let hope bloom, and think about the consequences afterward.
*(Don't judge me. It was before noon and somehow Bulmers has this marvelous nutty tinge if you get it from the tap in Ireland. I've had the stuff stateside and it suffers far more than Guinness does.)
Ach: this one is late for no reason other than I forgot to post it yesterday. In keeping with our "you can't have one with the other" theme of late, Jamiemac of Just Cover appears but we forgo an Ohio State blogger on the premise that even if they tried really hard they couldn't be anything other than annoyingly condescending given the state of things.
Long, and mostly concerned with 2010 and basketball so timeliness is not a huge issue.
Links of use:
Via the Shredder.
No worries, but you'll still worry. These days there are many emails I get that fit neatly into categories. One category: "oh noes Devin Gardner!" All I can tell folk concerned that Gardner might decommit is that he is asked about the strength of his commitment every ten seconds and has not yet deviated from strongly endorsing it. Two more examples, one from MGoBlog recruiting analyst Tom VanHaaren on the twitters:
QB Devin Gardner told me tonight that the Florida rumors going around are not true. Everyone take a collective sigh of relief.
Gardner says "I'm listening to what they have to say, but I'm still solidly with Michigan" in another article from The Sporting News that notes he has no plans to visit anywhere else. As long as that remains the case, you should not panic. If he does visit, panic.
This will not dissuade hardcore worriers, but there's literally nothing short of signing a LOI—it appears that Gardner will not enroll early, unfortunately—that will do that.
HE MUST BE PUNISHED SEVERELY. I'm normally pretty libertarian when it comes to arbitrary restrictions imposed because we must Think Of The Children and care zero percent about the various MIPs and assorted citations that football players pick up when they do what everyone else in college does. Live and let die, man.
However, in this case I recommend no less than a one-game suspension:
Terrelle Pryor! At a bar! He's 20! Someone arrest him at the state line. Do it for your country.
What's with the jerkery? At this point we're forced to confront the fact that Rich Rodriguez going bust after four—or even three—years is a real possibility, so the actions of one Jim Harbaugh at Stanford are of considerable interest. You're probably aware that Stanford has just finished beating Pete Carroll's head in, causing this terse postgame exchange to occur:
"What's your deal? What's your deal?" Carroll said, according to two sources near enough to hear.
"What's your deal?" Harbaugh retorted, and that was that.
Ah, the You Can't Do That On Television defense. Excellent work after thoroughly sliming the opponent. Carroll could have been referencing any number of things, but the "go for two up 48-21, miss it, get it back, and score again" sequence was probably the reason Carroll became verrrrry un-Dude in the aftermath. If Rodriguez does indeed flame out, Harbaugh will be the first name on many lips, and he will be a deeply strange candidate to consider.
On the one hand: Harbaugh turned around a non-scholarship I-AA program, took Stanford from the 1-11 Walt Harris debacle to 7-3 in year three with consecutive wins over Oregon and USC, and has a family coaching tree a mile long. His 2009 recruiting class finished 20th nationally according to Rivals, the first time in forever that Stanford has peeked into the top 25. Walt Harris's last class was #50. Assuming continued progress on the Farm—likely since his quarterback is a redshirt freshman—he's going to have a hell of a resume.
On the other hand, he's a kind of a big jerk. When he got to Stanford he immediately pissed off Pete Carroll by suggesting he was headed for the NFL—twice. He then trashed Michigan's academics and caused this site to pen a bombastically-titled post called "Destroy Harbaugh." He also picked up a DUI in 2005. Then there was the two-point stunt last weekend. These are not isolated incidents.
Are the items in the latter group enough to disqualify a guy who is almost certainly going to be a, if not the, grade A candidate? I don't know. Probably not something to consider seriously until we get a verdict on Rodriguez.
Warren departure? As expected, Donovan Warren is definitely going to look at his NFL options after the season:
“Definitely I’m going to look into it as far as where I stand,” Warren said. “If it’s the best thing to do for my family then I’ll just have to decide that. But if it’s not then I’ll definitely be here helping Michigan.”
Definitely. If Warren projects as a mid-round pick, as an NFL scout who talked to AnnArbor.com claimed, that would probably mean a return. Caveat: I think Warren's better than that and the scout did not break down his film, he just offered an off-the-cuff appraisal.
Darius Morris had already picked up a 40 of 40 on his second dunk, which you can also see at Dylan's site, but the Novak dunk ended with various members of the women's team—who were the judges—attempting to give him all of their score placards. So he got like 160 points. Nice points, Novak.
I had to duck out before the scrimmages, so I don't have much else to add about the event. It was worth having and I hope Michigan continues it, though next time maybe the introductions can go much, much quicker?
SIDE NOTE: Hey, remember this from the Iowa recap?
This disaster was played incessantly over the PA, and we, not being 14-year-old-girls, didn't know what it was. Friend of Blog joked that it was probably a Jonas Brothers song, and we laughed, and then we thought to ourselves IS that a Jonas Brothers song? It turns out no, but it's by the Black Eyed Peas, which is 95% as emasculating. Hell, this imeem playlist by one Shelby Veppert, who—no foolies—is a 19-year old from Columbus who lists Nickelback(!!!) as one of her favorite bands, has the song sandwiched between two Jonas Brothers songs. If Michigan Stadium ever has anything that can be considered a sort of theme song I'm going to buy out Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork, and if it's ever something as terrifyingly fey as that thing, I'll storm the castle myself.
Guess what fey, awful disaster of a song was used for the pre-festivities hype video? I've got my torch. Who's coming with me as we storm the guy in the Michigan marketing department who picks the music, find out he's Seth Green's character from
Ten Things I Hate About You Can't Hardly Wait, and mail him to a former Soviet republic? Anybody?
TWIS addendum. Aaaaargh. I thought I had plenty of Ohio State material ("It's not easy being an Ohio State fan. No wonder we're a drunken army of idiots.") for This Week In Schadenfreude, and I did, but if I had checked BHGP before I threw it to my editor I would have included this guy four or five times:
Seriously. Seriously: watch this bucktard. Seriously. He challenges Pryor to a fight. Call Pryor whatever you want—Darko in cleats, arm punter, murder condoner, guy with emotional problems—but there is no way he can't beat the holy hell out of a skinny white dude with a soul patch. And that's not even considering Eleven Warriors' withering Purdue recap:
I mentioned it last week and feel compelled to bring it up again: Could it be that Pryor simply doesn’t have the necessary mental skills to play QB at the major college level? All we hear is how hard he works in the film room blah blah blah but the end result thus far is a QB just as inconsistent in all phases of the game as last year.
The new wrinkle this week to the TP-Trainwreck was of course the ridiculous comments he made about the offense being ready to explode. Uh, I suppose he meant implode. Here’s a sampling of his mind-numbing handiwork yesterday. It’s like deja vu all over again. And I’m supposed to be happy he’s here for another 2.5 years?
Holy crap, man. I've been bringing up Ohio State's gaping backup QB hole for a year and a half now, but the hope I held out for an OSU implosion at the position always assumed the disaster would befall OSU in the event of an injury to DiC. This sort of meltdown was a distant possibility harbored in the deepest hearts of Michigan fans, prevented from surfacing because merely speaking the hope would result in Pryor going all Troy Smith on Michigan.
…Which is still a possibility. At this point in Smith's sophomore year he was running for more yards than he passed for and looking a lot like Denard Robinson does right now minus the world-class speed. I'm not ready to bury Pryor yet.
Inside-outside. I already pulled out Chris Brown's explanation of the differences between the inside and outside zone plays last week, but he's expanded his thinking into a full post on his home site that's worth checking out if you're into that sort of thing. I'll try to use that information going forward, though the way Brown describes it the differences are so subtle it might be hard to determine what's what.
One coaching point people have offered up this year during my attempts to discern one play from the other: the thing you want to look at is the alignment of the QB relative to the RB. If they're about even, that's going to be a stretch play. If the QB is a yard or so in front of the tailback, that's usually because the RB's angle is going to be more upfield because the play is an inside zone or other quick-hitting run that aims to punish the opponent for overpursuing on the stretch. It's sort of like a mini version of the pistol, if that makes sense.
A series of high-level discussions took place this summer about the creation of a new men's hockey league featuring the five Big Ten Conference members that sponsor the sport.
But despite support for the endeavor from multiple schools, including the University of Wisconsin, the concept failed to extend beyond the exploratory stage.
Minnesota was against it, Ohio State and Wisconsin for, it and Michigan and Michigan State "brought open minds" to the summer talks, whatever that means.
There are some obvious problems with a Big Ten Hockey conference. With only five teams sponsoring the sport, a BTHC would fall one short of the minimum necessary to garner an NCAA auto-bid (not that the schools in the conference would need one), and one short of conference requirements to sponsor a sport. Unless the prospect of a Big Ten conference would spur Penn State or Illinois to go varsity, it's a non-starter. And as discussed here whenever the topic comes up, Minnesota is the beating heart of the WCHA and is loathe to give up longtime rivalries against a zillion instate schools and, most importantly, North Dakota.
On the other hand, a Big Ten conference would break the current logjam that sees college hockey virtually unable to expand because each conference is full. The remainder of the WCHA would be a highly viable conference, with UND, CC, and Denver all national powers and teams like UMD, SCSU, and even Minnesota-Mankato tourney contenders on a regular basis. Add in UNO with Dean Blais and that's still a strong conference. A CCHA without Michigan and Michigan State would be considerably more rickety, but the recent emergence of Miami and Notre Dame as powers gives the league something to stand on, and a small Big Ten conference would provide a ton of nonconference opportunities for the departed programs to throw around to local schools.
If a Big Ten hockey conference is not in the cards, another crazy move might be:
Multiple college hockey sources said UW officials responded to the slowing of the talks by making it known they would consider moving to the CCHA.
Oh no, Corso!
Frazier acknowledged that UW would be a "jewel'' for the CCHA, but he denied such rhetoric, saying, "We're loyal to the WCHA."
…Asked about the notion, Alvarez said men's coach Mike Eaves wasn't interested in changing leagues. "If Mike's not interested, I'm not interested,'' Alvarez said. "I'd be interested in other things. As I've said before, regionalizing hockey makes sense.''
My head is spinning here.
“I was trying to get in at wideout, too, to be honest, but it didn’t work,” Cone said. “I took a couple (reps in practice) a couple weeks ago just because I’m tall, but they gotta get some more confidence in me first.”
Okay. Carry on with your life.
You probably already covered this but:
It is suggested that Rich Rod can do more with less and our current lack of high star recruits is related to the 3-9 record so as Rich Rod began to put winning seasons together at West Va did his recruiting classes increase in its ranking? Does/will a Rich Rod program attract a highly ranked recruit or does his program with its level of intensity scare them away (ie Justin Boren = Seantrel Henderson)?
When Rodriguez was hired I touched on this in Rodriguez's Profile In Heroism:
That 2008 class would finish #23 as well, so there was a noticeable uptick in WVU's recruiting rankings towards the tail end of Rodriguez's career there. (The 2006 class was very small, and recruiting rankings are always biased towards large classes; that dip is an anomaly.) Bill Stewart and Doc Holliday (mostly Holiday) have continued that trend. How much of that is courtesy WVU's increased national profile and how much is on the supposed recruiting aces on WVU's new staff no one will ever know.
Meanwhile at Michigan, Rodriguez added nine recruits to Carr's final class and all of them except one or two, IIRC, had four stars on one of the two major sites. His second class finished #6 nationally after Rivals accounted for losses to academics and baseball and whatnot (cough cough Ole Miss). Rodriguez, clearly, likes high profile mofos about as much as any other coach around, and when positioned at a school like Michigan can do a pretty good job of acquiring said high profile mofos. The reputed intensity of the program might be a turnoff to some but to others, like Craig Roh, it's a selling point.
Long term I expect Rodriguez will recruit on about the same level as Carr did. This class isn't going to be a great one because of 3-9, not any desire or deficiency on Rodriguez's part.
More on that:
Given our early season success, it is apparent that this season has more upside than most of us had anticipated – both in terms of wins and the corresponding (generally) positive media attention generated. In your opinion (e-pinion?), if we were to theoretically get to 9-10 wins (including a bowl game), will the fact that we took so many commits early have limited the upside of our recruiting class? It seems like a lot more guys who weren’t giving us a look prior to the season are now at least considering it, and we may or may not have room for everyone we would have liked to have taken.
Conversely, is it possible that OSU has limited the upside of their class by taking too few players prior to the season now that they are in a state of semi-turmoil? (Maybe I’m overestimating internet grumbling here, but the current pub can’t be doing great things with recruits.)
Apologies for the over-use of parentheses, and thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Phillip Zinda ‘05
Well… yes, theoretically. But probably not really. I've followed recruiting a long time and it's almost an iron law that an implosion-type season will be followed by a relatively weak recruiting class.
Holding out in the hopes of turning your fortunes around doesn't help that much. With the accelerated recruiting timetable, kids you like but aren't great would go off the board and then you'd be hoping 1) your turnaround would happen like whoah and 2) there would be enough open-minded folk out there to fill up your class. Not likely in the current environment. I do expect that Michigan's turnaround will provide a small bump, but these days the relationships you build happen when players are juniors or younger, at summer camps early and summer visits and fall unofficials as juniors.
1) I am a little worried about the defense and time of possession in the spread offense. Do defenses on spread teams get more worn down (more plays, etc)? Are there examples of excellent defenses on spread teams from the past? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
2) Has anyone attempted to empirically test the changes in noise level on the field after the lux boxes went up? I would imagine somebody has measured decibels in the past (although I wonder if decibels is the best measure of the impact of crown noise on an opposing team.
Thanks for all your hard work on this.
1) Do you count Florida or Oklahoma or Texas as spread teams? Last year Florida's defense was better than its offense. Oklahoma's warp-speed attack wasn't as successful but there are some false assumptions built into total yardage numbers. Oklahoma and their opponents averaged almost 13 possessions a game last year, 20% more than Texas did. Adjust for that reality and viola:
Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.
That still wasn't great, as Texas finished 51st in total defense, but how much of that had to do with the Big 12's offensive explosion last year? It's hard to tell.
As far as pace and time of possession and Michigan go: this year, 90-yard touchdowns or kick return touchdowns are going to result in defense fatigue, walk-ons hitting the field, and poor defensive performance. It's not a coincidence that the defense gave up two long touchdown drives immediately after Notre Dame had a long field goal drive and Stonum returned that kick. So, yes, the severe lack of depth this year might make it more sensible to keep things at a leisurely pace. Long term, though, powers should be doing what Oklahoma did last year. More possessions reduces overall variance by increasing the number of trials and makes it unlikely an inferior team can hang with you.
2) Not to my knowledge.
I'm not sure to what extent you've already addressed this, but I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding Devin Gardner next year. From what I've heard/seen Gardner is a phenomenal athlete, and has recently improved his throwing motion to the point where I believe rivals has him the highest rated QB in the country. I really appreciate what Tate has brought to the table this year, but I think he is limited by his physical abilities. I don't think it's reasonable to sit Gardner just because Forcier is doing a good job if Gardner lives up to his potential. Do you see a two quarterback situation in the future? Assuming Forcier continues to play well, and Gardner keeps playing like the #1 QB recruit in the country, what do you foresee happening in the next 3 years at the quarterback position?
Michigan should try its hardest to redshirt Gardner next year. Getting two years of separation between him and the freshmen will be really important down the line. He's not likely to be better than Forcier fresh out of high school, especially if he doesn't enroll early. (Current status of that: maybe, maybe not.) In 2014 you have these choices at quarterback: fifth-year senior Devin Gardner or Anyone Else. I'm going with Gardner.
Assuming Michigan does manage to get a redshirt on the guy, in 2011 and 2012 he'll be available. At that point you probably turn Robinson into a bizarre hybrid of Antwaan Randle-El and Percy Harvin* and Gardner into Tim Tebow circa his freshman year. Forcier plays the Chris Leak role. Implementing a Michigan version of the Gator Heavy gets Gardner playing time, fills a potential hole in Michigan's offense, and promises the occasional awesome jump pass. Also… goal-line sets with both Forcier and Gardner on the field promise to be chaotic fun. Fade to Gardner? Wolverine Heavy? Hell, let's throw Robinson in there too and do a triple-reverse play action jump pass. WOOOOO.
*(Hhhyarrrrr! It has four legs and four arms and can run around the sun!)
After reading the Dinosaur Schematic Advantage and the Smart Football smackdown of Tressel, I've been thinking about what this means for the U-M/OSU rivalry in both the near and long term. I know it's early to already be thinking about this year's game (then again, maybe it's never too early), but do you see this current Michigan team being close enough in talent to OSU to be able to win it based on home-field and schematic advantage? There are obvious concerns with the defense and depth, but maybe Tressel isn't capable of fully exploiting them?
And for the long-term, do you believe that Rich Rod's innovation and tactical mind will be able to make up for the institutional advantages that OSU has (money, better home state, less competition for recruits in-state comes to mind) to give Michigan an edge in 2-3 years when the program has maximized its potential? My best case scenario is a Carr over Cooper or Tressel over Carr -style domination eventually. I would love to hear your (mostly speculative) thoughts.
Mike Forster, Class of '05
The short term in a word: no. Ohio State's good at lining up and out-executing folk they have a talent advantage over and that will be true in spades when their offense is on the field. And their defense is going to be very difficult for Michigan to handle with so many young kids everywhere and without a true deep threat on the roster (unless Stonum gets way better or Hemingway is faster than he seems).
In the long term: that is, indeed, the best case scenario. It's not likely to happen just because of math: both recent streaks have seen their share of flukes where the other team should have won but for life-on-the-margins type stuff. The edges of binomial distributions are uncommon. And those streaks were helped along by poor coaching from the other side of the aisle. Tressel may not be Urban Meyer but he's not Lloyd Carr over the last few years of his term. His decline phase is just beginning if it's beginning at all and at his age (56) he can probably coach another 8-10 years before becoming an anchor.