I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
You want UConn to be a good team this year. Seeing the Huskies do well this fall will vindicate the selection by the AD. The Huskies are young on offense this year, with nearly all of the projected starters at the skill positions in their sophomore or junior seasons. They're young defensively as well, though the seniors are distributed a bit more evenly across the three units. Make no mistake: UConn might have a decent team this year (especially with no dominant team in the Big East, as there was during the Rich Rodriguez tenure in Morgantown), and they should be even better in 2010. Bill Martin didn't schedule a doormat.
When To Watch Them
The Huskies don't play in any of the now-traditional Big East Thursday night games, but they'll be on TV enough to catch a game or two over the course of the year:
- 9-12-09, 12PM: North Carolina, ESPNU
- 9-19-09, 5PM: @ Baylor (No TV yet)
- 10-24-09, TBA: @ West Virginia
- 11-21-09, 2:30PM: @ Notre Dame NBC
You'll See Him
Zach Frazer (RS Jr QB) - Frazer was a 4-star QB in the class of 2006, and he signed with Notre Dame. After spring practice in 2007, it became clear that he wasn't going to be out Jimmy Clausen for the starting job (which, lol how that’s turned out), and he decided to transfer to UConn. He sat out the 2007 season in Storrs, and became the team's #2 in 2008. He will take over for Tyler Lorenzen as the starter in 2009, and will be a polished 5th-year senior in his second year of a new system by the time Michigan sees him next year.
Jordan Todman (Soph RB) - With the departure of workhorse Donny Brown, the Huskies will look to a new source to power the running game. Todman only carried 47 times last season, though in the Brown-centric UConn offense, that was the second-most by a running back. This will be fans' first time to seriously evaluate Todman as a feature back.
Kashif Moore (RS Soph WR) - Moore burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman last year, and became the Huskies' leading receiver (which didn't mean much in last season's offense: he ended up with only 1 touchdown). He'll continue this year, and perhaps develop into a pro prospect by the time Michigan sees him.
Zach Hurd (RS Jr OG) - Hurd played in every game as a backup in 2007, and started every single contest at right guard last year. He's the only starter on the UConn OL who started at the same position last year as he will in 2009, and also returns for the 2010 game. Considering the Huskies' offense last year was run-run-run, a new offensive line probably bodes ill for this season. However, the UConn coaches are hoping that a more highly-touted QB and a developing, young, receiving corps might allow them to be a little more creative and move the ball in other ways.
Scott Lutrus (RS Jr LB) - In 2007, Lutrus was a (redshirt) Freshman All-American, and he reprised it last year with a team-leading 106 tackles. Most fans outside of Big East country may know him best as a friend of Fat White Guy Rob Lunn. He'll be a team leader in his redshirt junior season, and have tons of experience when Michigan faces the Huskies.
CB Jasper Howard (Jr CB) - Howard will be in his third year as a starter when Michigan faces UConn. He picked off 4 passes last year, and started every single game. He has also acted as a a punt returner for the Huskies' special teams unit, taking one all the way back in 2008.
But Not Him
Mike Hicks (5th Sr RT) - Hicks will be a 4-year starter for UConn. As a redshirt freshman, he started 9 games at right tackle, to go along with starting every game the past two years (the vast majority of them, again, at right tackle). He'll help UConn succeed this year, but if he's a standout for the Huskies, Michigan fans can breathe easy, as they won't have to face him.
Robert Vaughn (Sr FS) - Vaughn hasn't been a longtime starter for UConn, only having started 14 games over the past two years, but he was able to excel last year, named as a second-team all-Big East performer. He was third on the team in tackles with 67, while picking off two passes. He'll be done roaming the secondary after this year, so Michigan fans won't have to worry about him.
Connecticut, after a resurgent year behind Donny Brown in 2008, will be rebuilding this year. Every preseason magazine picks them to finish 6th in the Big East. They graduate a fair amount of talent, but aside from Brown and the offensive line (and of course Lunn), it doesn't look like they're losing too much that can't be replaced. With a new offensive coordinator and a guru-approved quarterback, they might pass the ball a bit more this year (and a bit more successfully). The team is laden with sophomores and juniors in the 2-deep, so 2010 should be a pretty good year in Storrs—just in time for Michigan to face them. There's a decent chance Michigan fans' perception of this game changes by the time 2010 rolls around. For a bit more on the Huskies, check out a diary and forum post by the_white_tiger.
Wow [/walken]. I spent last year posting Garfield Minus Garfield strips in the game previews instead of kittens. At first this was a commemoration of the new era and the shift in program philosophy we'd been waiting for—we went from cats to the specific, willful omission of them. As the season progressed, however, the lack of Garfield became, to quote Garfield Minus Garfield itself, "a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."
We're going back to kittens this year for obvious reasons. Kittens are cute. They work better than lack of cat. The switch was probably responsible for at least two special teams fumbles.
But here's one last lack of Garfield for the road, if only because it's theme-appropriate:
Historian! My RSS feeds got screwed up somehow and I stopped getting Wolverine Historian's torrent of clips in my reader. Fixed now; WH brings you the 1982 Purdue game:
Anthony Carter's last game at Michigan Stadium.
Hello again, Mr. Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh's tendency to talk without regard to potential future consequences has once again brought him to the attention of the Big Ten, but this time($)…
You're not a fan of teams from other leagues playing two FCS schools.
Some of these teams are playing Delaware State (as Harbaugh's alma mater, Michigan, is) or Towson (Northwestern).
You know, somebody really ought to take notice of this stuff. You have eight or nine wins and so you're a great football team? Well, what if you played four patsies in your nonconference and then you only won half your conference games and so you get to go play in the Alamo Bowl and everyone says you're a great team. That's what happens. There's no question that the Pac-10 doesn't get that respect for playing teams out of conference of like caliber. Maybe some of these teams have a 1-AA team in there but it's rare.
…I couldn't agree more with him.
I guess it's a little bit of a cheapshot to mention Delaware State when Michigan is far from the worst nonconference scheduler in the league (cough wisconsin-minnesota-indiana cough) but I'm guessing it was just one of the foremost inter-division matchups in his mind since 1) he's an alum and 2) the Delaware State game has been held up as an especially stupid example of these sorts of things since DSU has forfeited a conference game to line up their payday. Northwestern gets it right in the face (Lake the Posts is displeased).
He's right on with the rest of it, and totally correct that the Pac-10 doesn't get the respect they probably warrant in the polls because they play a round-robin. Does everyone remember Hawaii in the BCS? That's the clearest evidence that not nearly enough attention is paid to schedule strength we've got. The more coaches that rail against stupid scheduling tricks, the better off fans will be. Even if it's obviously self-serving.
Merph merph. I'm more okay with the UConn deal now that it seems to have caused the Huskies' ridiculously unbalanced schedule with ND to evaporate, but this is still a much-preferable matchup:
The Hartford Courant reported on Saturday that Connecticut has booked a football home-and-home with Michigan. The Huskies open next season at the refurbished Big House; the Wolverines return the trip in 2013. According to a Michigan source, Pitt was in negotiation with the Wolverines for a similar arrangement but UConn was more flexible on the return date.
Pitt fans are terrible, so this would have allowed myself and 30,000 of my best friends to descend on Pittsburgh and take in the game. I'm not driving to Connecticut.
Maybe if I squint real hard and pray we'll get better. Another argument for Rodriguez's all-encompassing run-murder-death offensive abilities can be found in what happened to his old digs once he left. West Virginia returned Pat White, Noel Devine, and six offensive linemen with extensive starting experience. This happened:
I'll divide for you: the dip in run tendency does not account for the decline of the rushing yardage. In 2008, WVU averaged 5.3 YPC. Across the rest of the White era, WVU averaged 6.0. In 2007, the nearest comparable, it was 6.2.
This seems like a good place to mention that When Carcajous Attack(!) has researched the Rodriguez offensive line in-depth.
Elsewhere in the Northeast. This NYC bowl getting knocked around may involve a Big Ten team:
The sources said that Mark Holtzman, marketing director of Yankee Stadium, discussed the possibilities of a bowl game at a meeting with the Big East athletic directors. Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, expressed his facility's interest.
If the bowl game comes to fruition, it likely would match a Big East school against an at-large team, preferably from the Big Ten, which has millions of alumni in the metropolitan area.
That is what I am saying. I'd rather deal with the cold for a couple hours and then be in New York than be in San Antonio or Nashville or Orlando… ever.
The article makes it sound like this would be a real rinky-dink operation, though, with the last-ish bowl-eligible Big East team versus anyone who's floating around without a tie-in. This will be a Big Ten team approximately once in a zillion years. Iowa missed out on a bowl at 6-6 a couple years ago, but I don't recall any other eligible Big Ten team escaping the gravitational pull of the Motor City Bowl.
O RLY? Apparently some Ohio State assistant was spouting off to some guy at the Dispatch—possibly ESS EEE CEE guy—about how defenses have caught up with the spread. Rodriguez decided he wasn't going to run it any more as a result oh wait no not really:
"I could care less what he says," Rodriguez said. "Everybody's opinion is an opinion. We study everything, and our ultimate goal is to win. We sit down as a staff, and coaches and say what can we do that gives us the best chance to score points and win ballgames. For us it goes back to running the system we know."
Rodriguez is one of the gurus of the spread-option offense and has spent years adjusting it.
"This whole thing about catching up to this, it's all about execution," he said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "They said the same thing about West Coast offenses, pro-style offenses. If you've got better players, you execute better, you'll win 100% of the time, no matter what system you run."
The exact term in the article above is that offenses have "caught up to the quarterback run." This is coming from a coach at Ohio State, which had Terrelle Pryor pass 165 times last year… and run 135 times. Fail? I think this is fail.
Are these measuring the same things? Black Heart, Gold Pants points to an article on Iowa's athletic budget that indicates how the Big Ten is doing relative to the Joneses, and by "Joneses" we mean SEC:
The $19.8 million in budgeted Big Ten income reflects Iowa's share of the ESPN contract and BTN profits. It's also nearly $4 million more than SEC schools stand to make under their new Leviathan deal with The Worldwide Leader, despite the fact that the Big Ten receives half as much from ESPN for television rights (just as expected).
The 4 million number is right…
Florida, like every SEC school, will receive about $16 million in total television money for the 2009 season, $11 million of which comes from ESPN.
…if those are measuring the same things. (That same article claims the Big Ten gets 100 million to the SEC's 150, which okay whatever.) I don't think they are. The quote that $19.8 million comes from:
Iowa will receive nearly $19.8 million through the Big Ten and NCAA, mostly through television contracts. That’s an increase of nearly $700,000.
Mostly? So greater than 51% but less than 100%? Where is the link to the PDF? Argh. I don't think a 4 million dollar gap is realistic, since if that encompasses every dime coming from the Big Ten and NCAA a decent chunk of it has to be bowl revenue. I'm guessing the overall money just from TV is essentially equal.
Which is still a major difference from what a thousand newspaper articles trumpeting the eternal hegemony of the secessionists would have you believe. (That's right: secessionists.)
Etc.: Rodriguez is "a little better than JoePa" at tweedle-dos.
Stupid being correct:
UConn has reached an agreement with Michigan on a home-and-home series that will see the Huskies travel to Ann Arbor in 2010 and the Wolverines head to Rentschler Field in 2013, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
Well, at least it's not a MAC school, but if Michigan was going to give up a home game I'd rather seem them play someone more interesting.
(That's Henri, The Otter of Ennui, by the way. Wave all you want: he doesn't care.)
This is all pretty pointless since apparently it will be announced in a week or so anyway, but dammit I'm interested and given the message board it appears so is everyone else. So, news items:
It won't be a Pac-10 team, and 2011 is not necessarily the return game. Mark Snyder:
The coach expanded a bit on the game to be added for next season's opener, saying it may not be returned by Michigan for a couple of years, one of the criteria of making it work. He also ruled out playing a Pac-10 school, saying U-M doesn't need to do that. That leaves Virginia and Pittsburgh as primary BCS school candidates with an open date early next year.
Cal and Oregon State are dead, then. However, Virginia and Pittsburgh as favorites directly contradicts a previous piece stating that…
The list of Duke, Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Oregon State was just wrong, and the team already has a game scheduled for the opener. Chengelis:
The prevailing thought among the media was that the team would be among these four that have an open date next fall -- Virginia, Duke, Pitt and Oregon State. A Michigan official told me today those schools are not candidates and suggested it's very likely the team involved will be making changes to its already existing schedule to make room for Michigan.
So, it's a non-Pac-10 team with an opener scheduled already (ie: not Oklahoma State) and it's not Virginia, Duke, or Pitt. And the implication from Rodriguez above—Michigan "doesn't need to do that," where that is jet out to the West Coast to play a legit team—rules out the super-elite across the country, not that we were going to line up Texas in 2010 anyway.
If you go back to the UV from yesterday that included a list of five teams that had some rumor buzz behind them. Four of them have been debunked; the last school standing is UConn. UConn has an opener lined up against Northeastern already, isn't in the Pac-10, hasn't been specifically ruled out, and wouldn't trip anyone's "we don't need to do that" sensors. Also my inbox has a couple of emails asking if I've heard anything about UConn and one stating "it's definitely UConn." My inbox has another email stating "it's definitely Cal," so the inbox is not exactly definitive. The UConn email says it's from the Michigan side of things and the Cal email says it's from the Cal side of things, FWIW.
I'm still pretty skeptical of the idea that Michigan would give up a precious home game to play UConn when the return trip would be at a 40,000 seat stadium, but a lot of teams have fallen by the wayside and the Huskies meet all the criteria we've heard so far. They're the best guess at the moment, which I guess is better than another MAC school but not by a whole lot.
The point of the diaries! Leading off: a fantastic diary from MCalibur on the increased vulnerability of spread option quarterbacks, or, apparently, the lack thereof. "Do spread quarterbacks get injured more?" is a question I've abdicated on before, citing the lack of a reliable injury database that could provide a comprehensive answer without good old fashioned grunt work. MCalibur grunted his way to a money graf after splitting quarterbacks into four quartiles based on run/pass ratio, with group 3 your Pat White sorts and group 0* your John Navarre sorts:
On a percentage basis the only group that suffered an out of norm injury percentage were level 2 QBs which I think of as QBs that are used like running backs (Juice Williams) or QBs that are too slow to be running in the first place (Steven Threet). All other groups suffered injuries at about a 23% clip. Meaning about 1 out of every 4 QBs in a given category lost playing time due to injury in 2008.
Though I don't agree with totally dismissing the increased injury rate of "group 2" QBs, the numbers here are small enough that it seems like an outlier. The Pat Whites got injured at at the same rate as groups 1 and 2, and group one was by far the hardest hit in terms of man-games lost. There is definitely no clear correlation between lots of runs and injury.
Caveat: as noted, the sample size here is small. The numbers are suggestive but not definitive. It's not impossible a larger study would show a better correlation between runs and injury. It is, however, pretty unlikely. Outstanding work; I have bestowed a bonus 100 (meaningless!) points. Misopogon also picked up the bonus for the numbers post front-paged last night. At some point these will be useful, I swear.
*(Dollars to donuts this means MCalibur is a coder. He's zero-indexing his arrays.)
Meanwhile on the roster. Michigan applied for three medical redshirts last year and news reports had confirmed that two of them—Adam Patterson, now a redshirt junior, and Junior Hemingway, now a redshirt sophomore—had been approved. The third was Kenny Demens, who the roster now lists as a redshirt freshman. Obviously inference: Demens, too, got his redshirt.
The whole enchilada from Rich Rodriguez's appearance at Big Ten media days:
Transcript here if you don't want to bother with the video. I read it and decided against it; there is zero of value in there. There is also creepy dark cell-phone video from The Big Ten Network talking to Mark Ortmann and Stevie Brown:
Mesko doesn't talk, he just saves the planet. There is also more of Rodriguez talking.
Can we get in on that? Yankee Stadium is poised to host outstandingly competitive games between Notre Dame and Army—why do you hate America, Notre Dame?—starting in 2010. This has caused Army to sign up a half-dozen future Yankee Stadium games against other East Coast schools and Yankee Stadium to start thinking bigger and possibly more competitive:
The Daily News has learned that there have been discussions between the NCAA and high-ranking Yankee officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, about the possibility of establishing a postseason bowl game at Yankee Stadium, beginning in 2011.
And… hey… can we get in on that? And in a meaningful way, not a goofy Motor City Bowl sort of way? I would love the opportunity to watch some other Big Ten team freeze its ass off in New York against some warm-weather team and caveman their way to astounding victories. Hell, if Michigan ended up in it I might even go depending on just how Christmas-impinging the thing is. Why don't we boot the Alamo Bowl to the curb—cold or not, there is no comparison between San Antonio and New York—and take on any comers in the frozen northlands?
(HT: Doctor Saturday.)
Erm? I've never had the Erin Andrews-level obsession that much of the rest of the college football blogosphere has with stat ninja Phil Steele, but I do respect his research-mad ways and how he eschews the sort of punditry that can best be summed up with the word "Cowherd."
So, um, Phil, what?
7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.
Not only does that "7" represent Phil Steele's placement of Rich Rodriguez on his top 13 "hot seat" list—ahead of Charlie Freakin' Weis!—but I would like to meet the Michigan fan not in a coma that believes Rich Rodriguez piloted a pass-happy spread offense featuring Pat White.
Never fear, though. Sensing a threat to their hard-earned possession of 2009's Dumbest Statement About Michigan Football, CFN strikes back:
2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Defense
DB - Stevie Brown, Sr., Michigan
DB - Kurt Coleman, Sr., Ohio State
DB - Donsay Hardeman, Sr., Illinois
DB - Torri Williams, Sr., Purdue
That's right. Stevie Brown, who isn't a defensive back anymore, and oh by the way was mindbogglingly awful last year, is first-team All Big Ten. You win, CFN, you win.
(CFN HT: MattC87 around these parts. What, you think I read it?)
More scheduling bits. I have no idea about the veracity of any of these rumors, but the following five schools have been kicked about the internet in the wake of Rodriguez's announcement that Michigan would likely find a BCS school to have a home-and-home with. In ascending order of plausibility:
5. Duke. In a word: no. Michigan could get a Duke-level opponent without a return game, and has in the recent past when they scheduled Vandy. Duke's existence in the list of four teams batted about (all listed save UConn) reduces the plausibility of the rest of them.
4. UConn. UConn isn't Duke but they aren't a ton better from a program perspective. (They're obviously better on the field.) It's hard to envision Michigan playing at 40,000 seat Rentschler field. And it's hard to envision UConn agreeing to another neutral site game after their sellout series with Notre Dame was met with resistance from the state legislature and brokered down to six games from the original ten with a provision that the Huskies play at least six true home games each year. Also, they'd have to move or cancel a game with Northeastern. Also also, the recruiting exposure would be nil.
3. Pitt. This was addressed yesterday: in 2010 Pitt already has Miami and Notre Dame scheduled, with ND on the road. Even though they've got an extra nonconference game because they're in the Big East, that would be a foolishly challenging setup for either Wannstedt battling for his job or the new guy looking to get off on the right foot.
2. Oregon State. Oregon State is a plausible opponent, but they'd have to accept a nonconference schedule of @ M, Louisville, and @ Boise State to go with their nine-game conference schedule. Has any college football team not named USC (or Troy, I guess) been that ballsy since the adoption of the 12th game?
1. Virginia. Virginia is a plausible opponent and was #3 on my list from yesterday.
An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through." Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington. Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling. He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game. In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."
Downgrade Cal in your betting pools.
Blunt. I was taken aback by a Rittenberg headline that read "Rodriguez sees chemistry built, entitlement vanish," but did indeed Rodriguez drop "entitlement" more than once:
"Are you hungry to prove yourself and not have a sense of entitlement? We talked quite a bit about not having the sense of entitlement," Rodriguez said. "It's good to have pride, but when that pride becomes too much, you're going to get humbled pretty quick. I think, in a sense, that happened to us."
There have been gigabytes spilled about this very topic on Michigan message boards from one end of the internet to the other: had Michigan fallen into complacency as Carr aged and the spittle ceased to fleck? What is this program, who does it belong to, and what is "being Michigan"? At what point do people start to kick ass again? And by "people" we mean "us"? That's not a question.
Right: This is Barwis culture shock in a couple sentences from the head man, and speaks to the difficulty Rodriguez had adapting Carr's culture to his. This has to be better now; anyone who hasn't transferred should be in for the long haul.
Etc.: Three people emailed me this so it must be important: Kirk Herbstreit had someone burn down his house for a tax break. It was the fire department. It didn't work. AAU remains so far beyond sketchy it strains believability.
I've dissed on Big Ten Media Days today, but here's something of major import:
He said U-M is close to signing an opening opponent for 2010. He said it's a BCS school for a home-and-home series.
Michigan would not be lining up a home-and-home with Duke or whoever, so this is an opponent ranging from decent to excellent. When Boise State popped up as a potential opponent, I scoured the schedules and came up with a list of potential opponents. Those opponents, once more:
NOT HAPPENING WITHOUT AN UNLIKELY RETURN GAME
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
- Maryland (would have to move Navy game)
- NC State
- Oregon State
- South Carolina (would have to move Troy game)
- TCU (they'd have to move their Baylor game)
TCU and all the "why bother" schools are out since it's a home-and-home. Georgia is not a candidate. Also, Maryland's game against Navy is in Baltimore and thus not moveable. They're out. What about the rest?
Alabama: has already filled out its 2010 schedule, and Penn State is on it.
LSU: Though they need a 12th game they would have to move Tulane and already have West Virginia lined up.
NC State: Open date, but has a real game (Cincinnati) scheduled on 9/4.
Pitt: No conflicts but already has Notre Dame and Miami on the nonconference, with ND on the road.
Oregon State: open date but already have UL and Boise lined up, with Boise on the road.
Arkansas: has only announced their now-annual neutral-site game against A&M.
Cal: Would have to move the Louisiana Tech game but has an open date and no scheduled road games. They do have Colorado lined up.
Oklahoma State: only Tulsa and Troy on the docket right now and nothing on 9/4.
Virginia: already lined up to die at USC, but do they really care about adding a game? No conflicts.
South Carolina: Would have to move a game against Troy and has North Carolina already lined up, but all of their noncon are currently at home.
My bets in order:
- Oklahoma State, which has a schedule that can accommodate Michigan with ease and is a nouveau riche school looking for a big scalp.
- Cal. Michigan loves scheduling Pac-10 schools and they can go on the road in 2010.
- Virginia. They'd have to be nuts, but maybe they are.
Also: Rodriguez confirmed that all the freshmen are ready to go, making Gallon and Turner's status officially official.