...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
[NOTE: Heiko will be bringing you a report from the presser soon. Due to unexpected Hello post for Norfleet and Alex Kozan's vision quest extending the liveblog, a couple promised posts are pushed off until tomorrow.]
You are aware of Michigan, and you're likely aware that a combination of Urban Meyer apotheosis and the total implosion of the Penn State program has rescued what was looking like a very shaky Ohio State class in spectacular fashion. Those two classes are neck and neck for the top in the league. OSU class fear factor is 10.
Moving on, there's… well… there's… er.
The Huskers have a couple of four-star JUCOs at LB and DB plus a few low four-stars out of high school: OH DE Greg McMullen, CO OL Paul Thurston, and IL WR Jordan Westerkamp were all vaguely on Michigan's radar early in the year without much else developing. They grabbed a four-star ATH out of LA on signing day as well. The rest of their small class (14) is composed of three stars with decent but not great offer lists.
Guy Michigan could use: Thurston. He's probably a guard but he's a highly-rated one.
All-name teamer: UT LB Jared Afalava.
Fear factor: 5. Cycling through those jucos on a yearly basis gives Nebraska a leg up on most Big Ten teams, and they managed to squeeze into the top 25 classes on Rivals as of publication. But where are the people?
Yes, Purdue. The Boilers grabbed a couple of four stars, most intriguingly 6'7", 215 athlete and spectacular name-bearer Carlos Carvajal. Carvajal is a prep kid from Milford and the "best tight end [they've] ever had" there. Prepare to be annoyed by third down conversions, except Michigan probably won't play him much after Purdue rotates of the schedule next year.
Purdue also grabbed a four-star Good Counsel (Blake Countess's alma mater) DE, Ryan Watson. They filled out the rest of their large class with three star guys.
Guy Michigan could use: Carvajal. Mmmmm 6'7" tight end.
All-name teamer: Also Carvajal.
Fear factor: 3. This qualifies as good for Purdue.
State watched as Michigan pillaged the state (with the Norfleet switch M took 7 of the state top ten with one of the escapees not likely to qualify) and a listing Ohio State snatched up a bunch of sleeper-type Ohio dudes who would have been prime Dantonio targets most years.
Their consolation was big-time DE Se'Von Pittman, who made the world's least-inspiring commitment. He told Rivals "I am making sure I have a place," essentially, and took about six seconds to decommit for OSU once Meyer was hired. This, has started a hilarious recruiting "rivalry" in which MSU will offer Ohio players and OSU will take whichever ones they want.
In the aftermath, their four star haul is WR Aaron Burbridge, the guy with the dodgy grades, Southfield DE Jamal Lyles, and recent addition Demetrius Cox, a safety out of Pennsylvania. Their three star guys are relatively high end as three-stars go, FWIW. They also grabbed DeAnthony Arnett as a transfer.
Guy Michigan could use: OH WR Monty Madaris. Michigan's on-again, off-again pursuit of Madaris seemed to turn him off and he never ended up visiting. Madaris is a three/four star tweener sort who would slightly calm fears about Michigan's post-Stonum WR corps.
All-name teamer: FL WR Macgarret Kings Jr.
Fear factor: 4. If you want to count Arnett (and you probably should somewhere) this is a receiver corps that's the best in the conference. But the lines are a blowout. Michigan State's one DL is a two-star out of Oregon; none of their linemen are even high three-stars on Rivals. Much hinges on Burbridge's ability to show up.
There's some quality at the top as Iowa did its usual mining of the Chicago areeas for a scattering of four-stars: DE Faith Ekakitie, RB Greg Garmon, DT Jaleel Johnson, and OL Ryan Ward. Then it's a blizzard of okay guys before the bottom drops out and you get eight-man football dudes.
It's a typical Iowa class, basically.
Guy Michigan could use: Garmon. Michigan showed some interest but things never got serious.
All-name teamer: IL DE Faith Ekakitie.
Fear factor: 6. Iowa has lived on classes like these forever. They use their superior knowledge of farm boys in and around their state to defy rankings like this on the regular, and this time around their top end guys don't seem like flakes. Unfortunately, Greg Garmon is about to be kidnapped by Colombian drug cartels.
The desolation here is amazing. OSU alone poached Armani Reeves, Camren Williams, Noah Spence (not a commit but widely projected to be PSU-bound), Joey O'Connor, and Tommy Schutt. Other schools sniped a prospect or two along the way and what's left looks more like a Purdue class than… uh… Purdue's class.
There are a couple of four-stars left over in PA WR Eugene Lewis and NJ DT Jamil Pollard. There's a further base of six or so quality three star types. Then it gets desperate. PSU essentially replaced each decommit with a two-star plucked from a non-BCS conference. There are six of them.
Guy Michigan could use: Lewis is a consensus four star who would help Michigan's WR depth in the aftermath of Stonum's departure.
All-name teamer: PA LB Nyeem Wartman.
Fear factor: 0. They'll get some players out of the depths here but there is going to be a major talent deficit bubbling up just as Penn State comes back on the schedule. QB Skyler Mornhinweg's (yes that Mornhinweg) decommitment to Florida is especially painful given the dearth of quarterback options on the Penn State roster. Their only hope is a kid out of Georgia they snatched from Rice. The next Penn State QB to even make an NFL camp is still in high school.
Wisconsin probably has the third-best class in the league in terms of bang for your scholarship slot, but the Badgers don't have anyone in it. They signed just twelve players. Losing OH OL Kyle Dodson on Signing Day was a major blow, and while they acquired a few four-star types signing twelve guys is not good.
I count 16 scholarship seniors on the roster, and it's unlikely Wisconsin has held on to every player they had at last year's signing day. They could have added anywhere from 4 to 8 more players. Instead it's going to be a scholarship festival for walk-ons. Given the Badgers' on-field success, this has to be the most disappointing class in the conference.
Guy Michigan could use: M was a finalist for LB Vince Biegel and wanted him as much or more than any of the guys they actually got.
All-name teamer: FL DB Hugs Etienne, winner of the B10 name of the year by a landslide.
All-name teamer II: QB Bart Houston, who will be called a gunslinger as frequently as Brock Osweiler was noted to be tall.
Fear factor: 3. The next time Michigan plays Wisconsin this class will be their seniors/redshirt juniors. IE: they're going to be really young.
The eternal mystery will always be why WDE Ifeadi Odenigbo had an academics-focused final five including Stanford, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt but never even gave Michigan a sniff. And then the kid picked Northwestern, which… just… man. That kid is serious about academics.
Northwestern's other big catch is DT and Kyle Kalis teammate Greg Kuhar, who probably had a Michigan offer at one point. From there it's Northwestern dudes for Northwestern's offense.
UPDATE: Oh right, and five-star USC transfer Kyle Prater. The transfer takes a some of the shine off that fifth star because Prater couldn't find his way on the field at USC (Arnett did not have that problem)… but not nearly all of it.
Guy Michigan could use: Odenigbo would look pretty sweet on Michigan's commit list as a WDE.
All-name teamer: Odenigbo.
5. 6. Northwestern with a solid to excellent defensive line… alarming. The secondary still seems reliably Northwestern-y, though.
Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois
Guy Michigan could use: MN WR Andre McDonald is a rangy 6'3" and claimed an OSU offer; even if he didn't have that he seems like the guy who you'll think "hey, that guy is pretty good" in the midst of a 58-0 beatdown.
All-name teamer, Minnesota: FL DT Yoshoub Timms and TX DE Lincoln Plsek. Oh, and MN WR Isaac Fruechte.
All-name teamer, Illinois: FL RB Dami Ayoola.
All-name teamer, Indiana: JUCO CB Tregg Waters.
Fear factor: 0.
This could be going better. I was really thinking there'd be a Hello post yesterday. Instead, bupkis. Armani Reeves sticks with his buddy and Alex Kozan commits to Iowa. Michigan's 50-50 shots are coming up tails. With Sam Grant headed to Oklahoma, even their better than 50-50 shots are coming up tails.
Big deal? Somewhat. It's not a huge deal to downgrade from a 3/4 star type like Kozan to a sleeper three star like new DT hotness Willie Henry*. Losing Reeves and having Yuri Wright go off the board** because of various tweets about organisms (not those organisms) does leave corner a little dodgy, especially if you look at 5'8" Cass Tech corners skeptically these days. The depth chart looks fine there, though.
OL and TE not so much. Diamond is a huge priority now and if Chris Muller looks like he might shake free from Rutgers (survey says… probably not, but not out of the question) I would hop on that rather than vacate a bunch of scholarships. Michigan has five more slots and looks like they'll fill two or three from Henry/Diamond. Insert extreme confusion about Arnett situation here.
Along with Kozan, Iowa's getting guys from eight-man football who have commit posts begin…
That's Nate Meier, a running back/MLB who will either be Chad Greenway or a shiftless hobo in five years depending on which side of the ball he ends up on. The point: no one in the division is recruiting at Hoke's level and with a huge focus on getting character kids, eventually that's going to pay off.
*[Who is not the surprise I was talking about in an earlier post, FWIW. I think that is off the table now; not sure what changed but Henry certainly seems like a one for one drop in for mystery guy. Most likely scenario: they watched Henry's film just now and veered towards him over mystery guy.]
**[LEMON BET STATUS! since every post about Wright's situation ostentatiously mentions Michigan's withdrawal from his recruitment, it is void. The disbelief was that a player from NJ would choose to go to Colorado over Michigan; Wright basically had no choice.
Also: no, Yuri Wright did not get expelled for some frickin' tweets. That does not happen. Similarly, Michigan did not drop the kid for some frickin' tweets. Put the pieces together and you have something like Stonum. The relatively minor thing was the last straw. This is entirely speculation.]
Bye week hockey. Another chaotic weekend in college hockey saw Bowling Green win(!) and UMD come out of a weekend against Michigan Tech on the short end of things. Tech is now .500 on the year and 9-7-2 in the WCHA. Mel Pearson: I be like dang.
Anyway, when the dust cleared Michigan blipped down to seventh in the Pairwise and sixth in the CCHA, but it's not all that bad:
|Ohio State||10||7||5||1||36||22||1 1/3|
|Notre Dame||10||7||3||0||33||20||1 1/3|
|Lake Superior||9||9||4||4||35||22||1 2/3|
|8||Michigan State||8||9||3||2||29||20||2 2/3|
They are a point from a massive n-way tie for third. The schedule doesn't look that intimidating anymore, with series against #3, #8, #9, and 11, though of course there's little difference between 2-9 in the league.
What if we look at goal differential?
Michigan is #1 by a second ENG against OSU and faces #2, #7, #9, and #11. Suddenly things are manageable. After this weekend they'll be exceedingly so. Anything better than a split against Miami and they're rolling to the finish.
As for the Pairwise, pay no attention to the drop. Lowell, BC, and Ferris are ahead by RPI shavings. A collapsing OSU is ahead by a COP shaving. If Michigan plays like they deserve a one seed down the stretch they'll get it. The target number of wins to enter the CCHA playoffs as a top seed is six, which is very doable: sweep terrible BG and one other weekend, split the other two.
The only truly annoying comparison is versus CC, which overcomes a massive RPI gap by playing fewer TUCs (both teams are two games above .500) and beating Union instead of losing to them. Root against the Tigers from here on out.
Negative recruiting: not so much. Amara Darboh:
"A lot of the other coaches, when I would talk to them, they’d ask, 'What other schools you looking at?'" four-star Iowa receiver Amara Darboh said. "And then then they would talk badly about the schools, or bash where I just went.
"But, not Michigan. I don’t know why they didn’t, but I like that they didn’t, and it says a lot about them."
Wormley, Reeves, and Pipkins also vouch for that. And Darboh's guardian brings up Hoke's masterful self control during a key moment:
Dan Schaefer, legal guardian of Darboh, said he was highly skeptical of Michigan because of the failures of the Rich Rodriguez era and the instability of a coaching change. Two things changed his mind.
First, it was Hoke's measured handling of struggling punter Will Hagerup in the Ohio State game last season, which was Darboh's official visit.
"He wasn’t overreacting," Schaefer said. "Like, the punter missed the snap. But (Hoke) didn’t go over there and get in his business right away. I liked that. It gave me confidence he could handle Amara."
I was uttering every cussed cuss I knew and inventing six new ones as this went down. Mienke also has a story on Darboh's turbulent past. Turbulent as in "caught in a civil war."
'98 Wisconsin. Part of Michigan's recovery from that ugly 0-2 start ("Cross is boss! Cross is boss!"):
Via Wolverine Historian, obviously. You can also check out '83 Ohio State.
Well done, America. Texas hates Craig James:
Public Policy Polling just came out of the field with news that only 2 percent of Texas Republicans will vote for him for U.S. Senate. It's early yet, but if Republican political consultant Brian Mayes is correct, 2 percent is about where we should expect him to end up. In the interests of disclosure, I'm working for one of the Democrats in the race, and we aren't concerned with James in the slightest.
"I'm surprised it's that high," said Mayes. "If you ask the average Republican voter... he's remembered for the scandal at SMU and using his position at ESPN to get a wildly popular coach fired. He is by far one of the most hated men in West Texas."
"It's not that people in West Texas don't like him," said Mayes. "It's that nobody likes him."
The only downside to this is ESPN will rehire him on the Stephen A. Smith principle: ESPN hates us as much as America hates Craig James and knows we can't change the channel.
Let the looting begin. The NCAA has come to a fairly obvious realization in the aftermath of finding out there's an Indiana State:
Association President Mark Emmert said Sunday he'll appoint a working group to examine the issue, stressing it will focus on "the way in which Division I is organized for the purposes of making decisions" - and not on a competitive format that now groups football programs into bowl and lower-tier championship subdivisions.
IE, Indiana State shouldn't be able to say anything to anyone. Anonymous officials a bit later in the piece suggest Emmert is being coy in public and another split between football programs is at least going to be spitballed.
Anything that gets San Jose State out of I-A is fine by me, but it seems unlikely anything will come to fruition here. If it does, the break should be based on institutional support offered a football team. If it's over X, GTFO. Prediction: if there is a split, eventually those left behind from the current I-A will merge with FCS as it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the two lower divisions apart.
Success with… actually let's just scratch both. Penn State cuts freshman center Peter Alexis from its basketball team, effective at the end of the season. This is described as the result of a… "carefrontation." That is not a word.
Alexis appears to be a good student and has not gotten in any trouble. Two thirds of BSD voters say this is okay even if it was "purely based on his basketball ability."
This is what happens. Q: What is Molk talking about here?
"I don't like it; I don't care about it; it (ticks) me off," Molk said. "It just adds to my anger."
Also, Molk has to be Michigan's internet-era record holder for most bowdlerized quotes in the newspaper. This story alone has the above plus:
"Missing the Senior Bowl (stinks)."
And then Barwis gets in on it:
"It shows something to the NFL that the guy tore a tendon off a bone and played with a tendon off the bone, and he said, '(Forget) it, I'm going to dominate a game."
Etc.: The East side upper deck of Spartan Stadium is "kind of like 1980s Poland," says A Beautiful Day For Football, which I can vouch for since I've been in it three times. If it was just a holding pen for opposing fans it would make sense. It's not. How to tweet at recruits. I'm surprised Kenpom isn't sitting on top of something tall, screaming "COME AT ME BRO" about Wisconsin after the Badgers resurrected their season.
Bob Miller scouts U17 NTDP commits JT Compher, Tyler Motte, and Evan Allen plus fellow 2013 commit Michael Downing. TomVH gets Barwisized. Remember how Ohio State fans were outraged by oversigning? Never mind. Plague of non-caring students extends to MSU.
As Signing Day nears, people commit to schools. That's how it works. Michigan has had a long wait after their summer flood and now sits on five guys that will either fill out the class or commit heinous crimes that can never be forgiven. In the spirit of late January/early February recruiting overkill, a rundown of the prospects and what my own Bayesian spidey sense (assembled from message board trolling, tips in the inbox, and a few conversations) is feeling at the moment.
If you don't read every word of the recruiting roundups, let this serve as a 1,000 foot view.
OH TE Sam Grant. Grant recently decommitted from Boston College after a long period of being a commit in name only and is either down to Michigan and Oklahoma or those two schools and Arkansas, depending on who you listen to. I have no insider information on him but his visit schedule is telling. In chronological order, he took trips to:
That second trip is telling, likely an attempt to confirm his decision or bring a family member up to get them on board. With Kyle Kalis undoubtedly in his ear and Oklahoma flush with tight end recruits (three already), this one seems like the least dramatic recruitment on the board.
IL OL Jordan Diamond. Diamond has seemingly had Michigan in the lead for over a year now, when he popped up on Michigan's radar during their recruitment of Simeon teammate Chris Bryant. A recruit not committing to an obvious leader over a long period of time can be a bad sign—it's often a signal there's something impassable. In Diamond's case, once Meyer arrived and started shooting offers out to anyone with four stars in the Big Ten footprint rumors started swirling about an Ohio State commit; he visited.
That moment has passed, leaving Diamond with an official top four of M, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Unofficially, that top four is a top two of M and Arkansas. The delay here is supposedly alarm at Michigan's offensive line recruiting class and Diamond's seeming inability to start from day one at Michigan. If Michigan makes it clear that the need at tackle is dire and that a couple of the touted players in the class are likely destined for guard (like Kalis and Garnett if he chooses justice and light), he should be blue. People close to Diamond believe that he really wants Michigan.
WA OL Josh Garnett. The biggest fish on the board is down to Stanford and Michigan. There is an interesting divide between the most informed Michigan observers (Sam, Tom), who believe it will be M, and most national analysts, who believe it will be Stanford. Garnett is going to make a lot of people wrong no matter who he chooses. Tom's confidence has been on the wane a bit of late; Sam, too, has been a little more reserved about Michigan's chances. This seems based on vibe more than new information, which isn't forthcoming. Some of the West Coast analysts predicting Stanford admit that they haven't gotten any new information out of Garnett in forever.
Kevin Erik Magnuson [ed: damn my memory for obscure old M hockey defensemen] and Garnett twitter footsie has reached levels heretofore unseen. Garnett has a bunch of people snowed either way; the choice here is between distance from home and being able to enjoy a milkshake with Magnuson at a school that has a much better track record of sustained success than Stanford.
This one is a tossup on which I don't have inside info. But…
MA CB Armani Reeves. After decommiting from Penn State, Reeves is down to Michigan or Ohio State. Michigan came in second on Reeves's first go-round and familiarity on its side—Ohio State just hired their defensive backs coach a couple hours ago. Ohio State has a commitment from best friend and fellow PSU decommit Camren Williams. Quien es mas macho?
Nobody knows. This is another recruitment that will go into the hat dance a genuine mystery; Rivals East Coast analyst Mike Farrell was "surprised" that the Urban in-home didn't lock Reeves down and now gives Michigan a ludicrously specific 52-48 edge based on nothing more than Bayesian spidey sense vibes. It's likely that not even Reeves knows where he's going at the moment.
Verdict: Flip a coin.
CO OL Alex Kozan. Kozan is down to Iowa, Michigan, and Auburn, three of the four schools he took officials to. Ohio State, the other, was presumed to be the heavy favorite. The way that changed suddenly implies that OSU pulled its offer. With the lingering OSU fandom push him away or will revenge bloodlust push him towards Michigan? Nobody knows.
No one knows anything about Kozan, really. I can't find one thing that indicates he's leaning one way or the other and haven't heard anything personally. All I've got is that it's the Auburn site on 247 that seems to be posting the most relevant items, like his announcement date. Auburn is nowhere near the 25 maximum and though they are hypothetically near 85, things happen, you know.
Verdict: Flip a three-sided coin.
Random Surprise Fellow. I think Michigan can take all five of the above if the chips fall their way. They have 23 with three early enrollees and have 27 scholarships open right now with one blindingly obvious candidate to not receive a fifth year. If Michigan strikes out on one or more of the above, do they have an Englemon in their pocket?
I have heard they do, a generic three-star defensive lineman currently committed to another BCS school. Michigan initially did not pursue him heavily but if there's a signing day flip don't be shocked. I think it'll take more than missing out on just one of the above for that to happen, but if it's a choice between leaving three scholarships open and taking a mystery guy I'm betting on mystery guy.
News bullets and other important items:
- Brennen Beyer should be fine for bowl practice.
- Team will go back to fundamentals and technique during bowl practice and develop younger players.
- Quinton Washington, Keith Heitzman, and Chris Rock are improving on the D-line. Coaches also trying to coach up Richard Ash.
- Bowl practice schedule will depend on which bowl they go to. Team will be active this week.
“It’s great to go out and play well enough to win. I think there’s some things we all know we have to do a better job with when you look at the whole football game, but I think our guys responded well. As a team, I’ve said it many times, but they really complement each other offensively and defensively and in the kicking game. It’s great to win a football game. Anytime you can win that great rivalry game, it’s good.”
Borges has been saying all season that the offense is eventually going to come along. Have we been seeing that the last two weeks?
“You know, I think a couple things: number one, [Denard has] grown and matured as a Michigan quarterback throughout the course of the year. I think the decisiveness that he has run the football with when he’s made that decision, that there’s some open area or whatever has really been good the last couple weeks. I think that’s helped his confidence. I thought he ran extremely hard with the ball on Saturday. When we can rush the ball for 277 yards, it helps you obviously when you get into the throw game. And in the passing game, I thought he made three really good throw again. He was 14 of 17, so his accuracy and completion rate was pretty doggone good. I think he just keeps growing.”
What was the mood like the last 36 hours? Have you been hearing from a lot of people?
“Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of text messages that I haven’t even seen yet to be honest with you. It’s nice and it’s great that people want to congratulate you, but we’re not done with this year yet. Our goal was to win the conference championship and we didn’t do that, so we have a lot more to prove.”
What do you think about the Urban Meyer hire?
“You know, he’s not going to play a down and neither am I. To me, I’ve known Urban. He’s a good football coach. He’s a good guy, I’ll welcome him in, but this is still Michigan and Ohio. It’s still going to be that rivalry. Neither one of us is going to play a game.”
(more after the jump)
UPDATE: Dangit. I forgot to pump this: the Blood Battle is going on RIGHT NOW. Defeat OSU, get cookies.
RIP Bo. Five years ago today.
Black and Blue. Hey, kids. That documentary about Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and Georgia Tech is being screened for free at the Ford Presidential Library at 7 on Friday. If you're not going to the hockey game, hit it up. I am, so I can't, but if anyone does end up going a review in the diaries would be nice.
I let do… wat? Demar Dorsey features in the Detroit News saying things that are unexpected:
The passion for such a goal runs so deep in Dorsey that he claims he would try out for the team as a walk-on if a scholarship isn't available.
"If I can get into the school, I know I'll find a way to make the team," he said. "Nobody knows how bad I want it." … "I'm in the same state!" Dorsey said. "Why would you miss out on your best shot in the state? C'mon, Brady Hoke!"
You'd think the cynical crap he got from the local media would have turned him off on the entire state, but I guess not. Guy has goals. Unfortunately, with Michigan's class near-full, its APR hovering in a dangerous zone, the coach who recruited him gone, and Dorsey still carrying academic question marks from his high school career, a reunion is exceedingly unlikely.
Too bad. I'd love to see certain local folks twist themselves into pretzels trying to contrast this version of Dorsey with the one that proved Rich Rodriguez was Mark Dantonio.
UPDATE II: Apparently Dorsey is a 2013 prospect, so it's somewhat less of a longshot. Still a longshot.
The bump. Ace mentioned this in the morning but it's worth repeating: Scout's latest rankings see three Michigan commits (Joe Bolden, Tom Strobel, and AJ Williams) rise significantly with only one (Kaleb Ringer) dropping. Conspiracy theories about Michigan commits dropping all the time should be shelved this year.
BONUS eeee recruiting accounting: Michigan currently has thirteen commits in the Scout 300—actually all in the top 250—and virtually everyone they're still pursuing is also amongst that number. It seems like the only way they won't end up with 17 is if they strike out on two of their three high-end WR targets and have to pick up a decent three star instead.
Marvin Robinson's lawyer: better than Jerry Sandusky's. The Robinson POV on his court thing:
Mason said Robinson already has an Xbox. In fact, he has two, Mason said. The student who reported the theft is an acquaintance of Robinson's, and Robinson has been in his room on "various occasions," Mason said. They trade Xboxes, he said. Mason, a U-M graduate, said it's not uncommon for a student to go into another student's room.
"I lived in Michigan dorms and I used to walk into my room and find people sitting there, watching TV," he said.
Robinson is going to cooperate with university police and Washtenaw County prosecutors, Mason said, adding that Robinson has no criminal record.
"He goes to class," he said. "He goes to study hall. He goes to practice. And he goes to church every Sunday with his mom and dad."
His hearing has been delayed until January. No idea if that's an accurate picture of the situation but I'm guessing Robinson is still on the team when this is resolved.
In 2062, this will be an article about Toledo. Apparently beating Michigan in 1962 was a big deal:
Bob Devaney earned his first signature victory on that sunny September afternoon in 1962, upsetting the Wolverines 25-13 in what was supposed to be, according to the Detroit Free Press, an “opening-day breather” for the home team.
The rest is history.
Michigan went 2-7 in 1962.
Van Bergen FTW. A bit more on Van Bergen's stunt stunt last weekend, and the study that generates it, from the Daily:
Every Tuesday, the coaches hand out the scouting reports. Van Bergen usually finds the tendencies and play consistencies watching film on his own. Sometimes he’s right, and sometimes Montgomery has to straighten him out. The answers are always in the binder. In practice, the scout team gives the defense simulations of what they’ll see in the game.
“It goes from there to the game,” Montgomery said. “ ‘Hey Coach, this holds up. Every time they do this, it’s accurate.’ Then they start to believe.” …
Van Bergen knew Iowa was going to sneak its quarterback when it hurried up to the line on a fourth-and-1 two weeks ago — he and Martin snuffed it out.
The past three weeks in particular, Montgomery said, Van Bergen has been well versed in the opponent’s “meat and potatoes” (Hoke’s term for tendencies and key plays).
No wonder they’ve been his best three weeks of the season — 13 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
He knew what play Purdue was going to run in the shadow of its own endzone, based on a tip — alignment, personnel, formation or all the above. He told Martin, who then ripped through the line for a safety because he knew what was coming.
Unless he has a long NFL career (not entirely out of the question), Van Bergen is going to be defensive line Mike Hart as soon as he graduates—the guy everyone follows in his coaching career, hoping he returns.
I was listening to the BSD podcast this week for various reasons mostly having nothing to do with football, but I did get a football tidbit when they had Ramzy from Eleven Warriors on. He mentioned that you can pick out OSU passing plays because their n00b receivers only look at their wristbands when it's a pass. That'll probably get hammered out by the time the Game rolls around; given the widespread antipathy for Bollman OSU will probably be tipping things in ways not so easily addressable.
More Van Bergen. I like Ryan Van Bergen.
"The year my class came here was after the 1 versus 2 Ohio (State) game and Michigan went to the Rose Bowl," Van Bergen said, referring to the 2006 season. "That was my expectation — we're going to play Ohio to go to the Rose Bowl every year I'm here. I was going to have coach (Lloyd) Carr for my whole time here, and it was going to be great.
"The amount of adversity that has been encountered by this senior class, especially the fifth-year guys, I'd be hard-pressed to find another group that has survived and now thrives in that situation. I don't know how much people even realize how dedicated these guys were."
"I guessed three times it was going to be a pass just by their formation, and I was right all three times. So I was like, 'You know what? Eff this, I'm doing it.' Mike went with me. He jumped in and it was successful."
(Angelique bowdlerized "eff this" to "forget this"; Heiko reports that it was "Eff" but not the full Molk.)
What’s Nebraska’s greatest position strength? Greatest weakness?
It’s not really a matter of position strength as it is a matter of depth and experience. It’s kind of a catch 22 for NU right now. NU’s best defensive player is a linebacker, Lavonte David. And, Will Compton has steadily improved. So, its a strength, right? The problem is they are very weak/thin at linebacker after those two. The same could be said for the secondary. Alfonzo Dennard is a stud, and they all feed off of him. At times, they play well. At others, they are very suspect. It’s the same story at running back – a strength because Burkhead is stud, potential weakness because it’s only freshman behind him. When he got nicked up against Northwestern, it hurt the offense a lot.
As far as a a true strength for NU, I can’t overstate how much quality special teams play has helped the Huskers so far this year. Brett Maher’s punting was important last week. He’s done a great job as a kicker this year too. The NU return game has been strong too. That’s the stuff that quietly helps win games.
Tight ends: pro-style requirements. Today in "quoting everything Chris Brown writes" we focus on tight ends. You may remember an emailer questioning Michigan's decision to take Pharaoh Brown as a tight end because defensive ends seem more valuable. I wrote then:
I get the vibe that tight end is going to be a big deal with Borges. If we're headed to a collection-of-plays Boise-style offense, having a diverse set of tight ends is a key component. Having a 6'6" guy who can run some is a major help in your effort to whiplash the defense from huge power running sets to spread passing attacks. What do you do when the opposition has a guy who can block a defensive end but can't be covered by a linebacker? Brown may be that guy.
Now Brown tackles the transformation of the Patriots offense from a full-spread passing attack back to something approximating NFL norms:
[In response to Rex Ryan blitzing his spread to death] Belichick went out and drafted [tight ends] Gronkowski and Hernandez.
Hernandez is more of a pure receiver, and his chief advantage is as a substitution/personnel problem: If he's in the game, you don't know if he'll line up as a tight end or if he'll split wide so that Welker can play the slot, forcing you to decide whether to put your cornerback on Welker or Hernandez, potentially creating advantages in both the run and passing game. But Gronkowski is a true triple-threat from the tight-end spot: He can block, he can go out for passes, and he can even block and then go out for delayed passes. Multiple defenders have to keep their eyes on him. And against such a threat, Ryan can't sell out with the multifarious blitzes overloaded to one side or the other, simply in an all-out effort to get Tom Brady. The presence of the tight ends—where will they line up, what will they do—dictates terms back to Rex Ryan, who would much rather cut loose and go on carrying his father's torch as the destroyer of pretty-boy quarterbacks.
Having Brown, Devin Funchess, and AJ Williams* in one class isn't overkill if a two-TE set is going to be the closest thing to a base offense Michigan has, and if you can split out a 6'6" dude like Brown that makes the whiplashing even whiplashier. There are a lot of things to get excited about in this recruiting class but the diverse, athletic set of tight ends they acquired is high on my list.
*[I know a lot of people are talking up Williams as a tackle. I think that's a possible endpoint for him but if that move ends up happening it won't be soon. Michigan will need him to play as a freshman.]
Etc.: Extensively reported NYT piece on Penn State makes McQueary look a little better, everyone else look worse. The NCAA left its SharePoint site open to the public for a while. Can't go two weeks in the Michigan blogosphere without someone posting some latin. BWS picture pages the Ryan/Kovacs speed option destruction.
9/17/2011 – Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3 – 3-0
The first quarter is a stupid quarter. It eats American cheese still in the wrapper and sits down for reality TV marathons. I suggest that in the future all first quarters will be abolished in favor of other, better quarters, like the second, third, and fourth.
That is the future, though, when Michigan's depth on both lines isn't horrifying and the quarterbacks have returned to their baseline state—enormous, ponderous, NFLerous. Right now we have to endure first quarters and run Denard Robinson 26 times for 198 yards against Eastern Michigan because first quarters are stupid.
They leave us so spooked that Borges sends Denard out to add three carries to his total in a 28-3 game with ten minutes left, and in doing so explodes the idea that this offense is not Denard, Denard, Denard. Next Saturday the real lyrics to Varsity* will be
"Robinson… Robinson. Robinson, oh Robinson /
Robinson Robinson oh Robinson!"
The Saturday after that he will take all 110,000 tickets. By October he will have evolved an organic superstructure that slowly replaces the metal and concrete of Michigan Stadium with rainbow rows and gently whinnying unicorn hand-warmers.
Is this sustainable? Almost certainly not. Will an exhausted Denard evaporate mid-season as the demands on his existence become too much to even contemplate, let alone bear? Almost definitely.
Does Michigan have a choice? No.
We may be reading way too much into these two drives:
- (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for 1 yard to the MICH2 (CUDWORTH, J.;MULUMBA, Andy).
- (2nd and 9) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.
- (3rd and 9) Robinson, D. rush for no gain to the MICH2 (WESTERMAN, J.;KASHAMA, K.).
- (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for loss of 1 yard to the MICH20 (CUDWORTH, J.).
- (2nd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Koger, Kevin.
- (3rd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.
One of those started at the Michigan one and the other was a victim of Denard's early-season inability to throw. But they did not move the ball against Eastern. This blog's prediction that Michigan would manage to exceed Eastern's terrible YPC yielded from under center was nowhere close to true. Combined with a bunch of two-yard runs against Notre Dame the overall effect is to look at a run out of the I-form as a wasted down.
Michigan ditched any semblance of a pro-style offense at that point, whereupon the drives ended like so: TD, three and out, TD, TD, TD, 21-yard field goal. That is what life is supposed to look like against Eastern Michigan, and if we have to wear Denard Robinson into a beaming nub by God that's what we'll do.
Maybe those two drives are flukes. That would be odd since it seems pretty hard to go from five years of primarily zone blocking to primarily power, from an offense that is based on being faster and smarter than an opponent to one based on being bigger and stronger. Remember the theory that stated Michigan's linemen not adding any weight over the offseason was clever gamesmanship? Yeah, not so much: that's just how big they are. That's big for humans, but not beef machines.
Once you add the above into the two-yards-and-cloud-of-despair ND under center runs you've found a dataset nearing significance. It says Shotgun Forever, for the next two years.
Borges flipped his script immediately after, and that's great. Long term projections that these coordinators are the best in a long time remain on track. Getting Denard on a similar track is a lot more pressing, unfortunately.
I keep bringing this up in the UFRs but it's worth repeating: this is a regression. Why it's a regression is unknown, but the legions of people declaring Denard a "terrible" passer are reacting to the most recent data only. Before that he was not Chad Henne but he was not awful, either. I mean, sweet hotpants in a pickle bun, I have him for 15 good throws downfield, 2 meh ones, and 2 poor ones against Wisconsin(!) last year. These are throws past the LOS, not screens. Wisconsin! I take these numbers specifically to reduce the noise you get from drops and completion percentage and the numbers say he's not Chad Henne but when you put him in last year's offense he's not that far off.
So… last year's offense. Borges's next step is trying out the snag, all-hitch, and curl/flat routes that Denard had gotten comfortable with last year to see if his persistent inaccuracy is purely mechanical or an artifact of nerves that come with unfamiliarity with the offense. (Also, can we get bubble screen action up in here?)
If he's not the relentlessly accurate guy it seemed in the first half of last year, neither is he the guy who can't seem to complete anything this year. There is a ridiculously good offense lurking somewhere in Michigan's personnel. It's up to Borges to find it. Declaring the offensive line average and blaming Denard Robinson is faintly ridiculous. They managed to muddle through with those anchors last year.
Michigan wins games down the road by making Denard the focus and exploiting how opponents react to that.
If it doesn't work, okay. It's all you've got, for a given, incredibly sexy version of "all you've got."
*[Do not be fooled by the words on the video board. The only words in "Varsity" are "oh" and "Varsity." Try it.]
Non-Bullets of First Quarter Hatred
Edge issues. I'm not enormously concerned about the defense because most of the issues seemed to have one very obvious cause: freshman DE/SLB types losing the edge on jet sweeps. Jake Ryan in particular was exploited to the point where they threw Brennen Beyer on the field, who we've seen have major edge issues. I'd rather have one obvious coaching point to work on than a wholesale breakdown. Michigan seemed to adjust in-game and showed better edge contain before the day was over.
BONUS: Frank Clark had one of the day's most impressive plays on a late jet sweep where he set up in a good spot, baited the WR inside, popped outside his blocker, and forced the guy back into pursuit. Mental +2 there.
Changes. Thomas Gordon got an entire game as a deep safety and made a spectacular interception; in his stead the nickelback was Raymon Taylor. Taylor's main contribution was picking up a personal foul on EMU's long drive that got stuffed at the one; after that Michigan realized EMU was about as likely to throw as they were and took him off the field. The non Black/Roh DE spot was a jumble of Clark, Beyer, and Ryan.
Q: was the Gordon move a permanent thing or a reflection of EMU's non-spread offense? I'm hoping it's the former. I've been high on him since early last year and the coverage on his INT was another tick in a positive direction.
Annual exposure to Vincent Smith zealots. Man, I'm all like… yeah. No offense to Vincent Smith's quality day against the Eagles, but it's still Toussaint. There is a common theme in the long Smith runs against Eastern: the ability for grandma shotgunning a beer to run about that far.
He's a great guy to have on your team and he's going to be a major part of the offense because he's a B+ in many aspects and an A+ at blitz pickups, but Toussaint is faster, more agile, and has at least equal vision.
Meanwhile, Rawls looked exactly like Kevin Grady on two short runs. First impressions there are meh. This is surprising to people named Fred Jackson but not many others.
Redshirt status. A game against Eastern that manages to get a couple of garbage time drives in gives us some hints as to who's getting a redshirt and who isn't:
- BURNED: Wile, Taylor, Countess, Morgan, Beyer, Clark, Rawls
- STILL REDSHIRTED: Carter, Hollowell, Brown, Heitzman, Miller, Rock, Poole, Bryant, Bellomy, Hayes
Pick a random day three weeks into any football season and you'll probably find me railing against inexplicably burned redshirts, but I don't have an issues with the guys above getting in the game. All the guys on defense save Countess could develop into starters as early as this year, and Rawls is another option at a tailback spot that needs them.
Recruiting numbers. It's three weeks into the season and we haven't seen Mike Cox even get his ceremonial long run against crappy competition. Terrance Robinson made a brief cameo at the end of the EMU game. Neither should be expecting fifth years at this point; if they don't receive them Michigan will be at the 26 number they've been projecting for a while. That's if they don't lose anyone between now and Signing Day, which is possible but unlikely. With four stars knocking down the door I can see this class getting to 28.
The main issue getting there won't be the scholarship limit but the cap on enrolled signees. That's 25, but you can dodge it by enrolling kids early. Michigan has just one EE committed right now. That's not something they can change since early enrollees acquire the status by taking a lot of summer school. I haven't heard that anyone Michigan is pursuing is planning on an early enrollment, so they might end up with a couple empty slots on Signing Day.
The early enrollee exception is OSU commit-type substance Bri'onte Dunn. The rumblings on him have oscillated between 100% OSU and 100% undecided, and of late it's pushed more towards the latter. He took a visit to Penn State last weekend and declared himself "confused," and after that Miami game it looks like he'll have a very brief window to get acquainted with whoever OSU's new coach is before he's on campus somewhere. Dunn is a touted player at a major position of need who Michigan would yank away from OSU; he would also allow them to take a 27th player. He's kind of important.
StephenRKass asks if defense and special teams are "becoming a positive." D is wait until later. Special teams do seem better but they aren't championship level yet. Kickoffs both ways are terrible, punt coverage has been weak, and I'd like to see the kickers hit an actual field goal instead of a glorified extra point before I stop panicking about them. Once Hagerup gets back the punting and Jeremy Gallon's sudden ability to field and return punts probably make it average.
Media: I should have been linking these all along, but Mike DeSimone's database is always key. Mikoyan shot from the sidelines. He's got pregame, in-game and postgame posts plus a bonus shot of an MGoBlue barn.
There is also a torrent of saner size up.
The Wolverines' special teams, at times, looked ugly in the 31-3 rout. Michigan's squib kick with 39 seconds left in the first half is a perfect example. The stratagem can work sometimes, but this was not one of them.
The call was especially egregious against a team such as the Eagles, who passed just six times the whole game. Could they have traversed a long field in such a short time?
But the squib gave the Eagles the ball at their own 47-yard line, and they needed just four plays — all runs — to get into position for a 50-yard field goal. That's just too easy.
Squibs are way over-used. Unless there are fewer than 20 seconds left in a half they're a bad idea, but coaches tend to prioritize risk aversion over expected value.
Meinke also suggests Vincent Smith is not the right guy for kick returns due to his lack of speed. I agree with that, too. If Shaw is third-string-ish on the tailback depth chart wouldn't this be a spot for him?
Blog stuff: BWS has his frown on:
After a 7/18, 95 yard (5.3 YPA) day against a MAC bottom dweller, it's difficult to see Denard Robinson as a sustainable option at quarterback in Borges' offense. It may sound reactionary, but after another game riddled with poor decisions (chucking the ball into double coverage) and spotty accuracy, and against competition that shouldn't be able to compete with Michigan's athletes, it's clear that Denard's struggles in the passing game last year, his uninspiring spring game, and his poor passing performances against Notre Dame and Western Michigan are no flukes. He locks onto receivers, struggles with his accuracy, and frequently makes near backbreaking decisions.
This is true so far and made up for by Denard's other talents. We are almost an old-school option offense that needs to stay in front of the chains. He's real mad about burning Rawls's redshirt, though. I'm all like whatever: Rawls may be needed this year since Hopkins is full of doghouse and the starters are fragile. And I'm betting that by the time Rawls would have been a fifth year senior there's someone better on the roster anyway.
Is it just me or does our offense look like the one that that one friend--the friend that everybody has--always runs against you in Madden/NCAA...you know the friend. He's usually the guy who says things like "watch these 4 verts bro" before throwing a bomb on first, second, and third down (he also goes for it on fourth down regardless of field position). Another hallmark of this friend's offensive strategy is a running game that involves picking a team with a fast quarterback and running outside every time that he doesn't throw deep (which is every pass).
UPDATE: So I wondered which 80s-era estrogen rock band was responsible for the title reference and googled it. The result: REO Speedwagon. REO Speedwagon's mindblowing video for the thing, which has almost as many ridiculous haircuts as profiles of me do and obviates the need to actually do LSD:
Good Lord. I'm just going to float off into the sky now.