"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Programming note: the Martin news and AD search was clearly more important than slapping up half of the Delaware State UFR, so both halves will land tomorrow.
A couple AD clarifications. The thing about Dave Brandon politicizing the AD position was not meant to suggest a staunch anything couldn't run the department—Bo, good God. The thing is: Brandon almost made a run for senate the last time around and is considering a run for governor. If he's got political aspirations he'd have to resign to pursue them, and Michigan would just be at square one again.
Molk to return. It sounds like David Molk will return to the lineup against Penn State:
"Medically, everything has been cleared for him to go to practice, so I think it is just a matter of how comfortable he feels with that and getting back in action," Rodriguez said. “He really hasn’t done much football wise. He did a little bit last week, but nothing with full pads so tomorrow will be the truer test as opposed to today."
Moosman would slide over, leaving Huyge and Dorrestein to fight it out for the last spot. Everyone else is on track to go, with Forcier declaring himself "100%" yesterday. To steal some of Tim press-tweet thunder:
Molk healthy, will start at C. Moos to RG, Dorrestein or Huyge at RT // CBrown, Tate healthy. RB starter depends on Minor's health and play selection. Minor's injury day-to-day.
Everyone's full-go, then, except Minor, and that's just life with Brandon Minor.
Down, pull, tomato tomato. So that play that Michigan got burned on a few times against Eastern Michigan and exists as the staple of the Michigan State rushing offense has been called at least two different things around here. Steve Sharik calls it "Down G" because the line blocks down and a guard pulls around. I've tended to call it "power off tackle" because it's a power run that usually goes off tackle. Chris Brown splits the difference, calls it "Power O," and breaks it down in the usual clear language that teaches you something:
The lineman to the side the run is going (playside) essentially “down” block, meaning they take the man to the inside of them. For the guards and center, that includes anyone “heads up” or covering them, but for the playside tackle, he does not want to block the defensive end or other “end man on the line of scrimmage.” These lineman use their leverage to get good angles to crush the defensive lineman, and the fact that they don’t have to block a couple of defenders on the playside frees them to get good double teams and block the backside linebackers. To use Vince Lombardi’s phrase, the idea is to get so much force going that direction that they completely seal off the backside.
There are four or five additional aspects to the play and accompanying cut ups. Every once in a long while Michigan will run this, but not often; usually they just zone to one side of the field or the other. They did bust it out a couple times against Delaware State; they use it as a short-yardage play. (As opposed to DeBord, who loved running the stretch on third and short.) They tried it on the goal line once but Vincent Smith didn't get the memo and ran directly into the space the pulling guard had vacated.
If they do run it in non I-form short yardage sets in the future, I'd expect it would be from a set featuring Robinson and Minor in the backfield.
Michigan gets exposed to this play on defense a ton, though, and the key to it is for the unblocked defensive end to prevent this from happening:
First, the fullback (or, more often nowadays, some kind of H-back or other player) is responsible for blocking the otherwise unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage (”EMLOS”). He uses a “kick out” technique, simply meaning he blocks him from the inside to out, in order to create Lombardi’s famous “seal” going the other way.
EMLOS: football jargon or the cybernetic virtual intelligence gone awry that you must defeat to save the station and turn the zombiefied crew back into humans?
Er. Anyway: the defensive end has to get inside that block. If he does this he almost always turns the pulling guard into a useless hunk of meat stuck in the backfield and then "spills" the play outside, where an unblocked linebacker should have an easy time stringing the play out and tackling for a minimal gain. At least in theory. Michigan's done this a lot this year and sometimes the linebacker has not made the easy play on the outside. Por ejemplo:
That's JB Fitzgerald there but Mouton has also done that more than once. Not recently, though, so that's good.
Not exactly making a sandwich with someone else's cheese. I guess this qualifies as trash talk, but it has a decidedly Victorian air to it:
“I think we feel like we’re the better team and we can go out there and still beat them," Royster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for a story published Tuesday.
Not one but two qualifiers there. Graham in response:
“He’s just going to have to show it,” Graham said on a teleconference. “We’re going to come. They better come hard, cause we’re coming. I just don’t think they really know. How much preparation and how much we’ve been waiting for this game since last year. If he feels pretty confident, they better prepare. That’s all I have to say.”
Good show, Mr. Graham. Your delicately phrased bon mot will be the talk of the salons this day! I daresay the viceroy's daughter may even catch wind of it and permit herself a lady-like titter. Write her a letter confessing your affections, but beware her devious half-brother's designs on the throne—and milady's heaving bosom!
Stat abuse. I mentioned the huge swing in Michigan's statistics after the Delaware State game in the game column; Ace has a fuller breakdown over at his site. My favorite line in the table is Zoltan & Co jumping from third in net punting to second on a day with no punts. More drastic than even the huge jump in offense rankings are some of the individual statistics. Denard, welcome to the realm of the statistically viable:
Denard Robinson’s season (and, therefore, career) passer efficiency rating skyrocketed from a paltry 55.39 (for context, the 100th best qualifying passer in the country, Clemson’s Kyle Parker, has a rating of 106.55) to a very acceptable 131.83 (which would qualify for 54th in the country, just above Northwestern’s Mike Kafka). David Cone’s season rating went from 0.00 to 150.72.
Meanwhile, Michigan has been outgained in four games against BCS opponents.
Understated positivity, also ROOOOONEY! You probably have no idea who Martin Tyler is unless you're British or have FIFA 200X, but even if you don't you have to understand this is good news:
SI.com has learned that Martin Tyler, the venerable British announcer who was voted the FA Premier League Commentator of the Decade, has been hired by ESPN to be the lead play-by-play voice for the network's English-language coverage of next summer's tournament in South Africa. The formal announcement is expected this week.
Guess who's not watching the 2010 World Cup in Spanish? This guy. This is going from Pam Ward and a howler monkey that spends 90 minutes screeching your embarrassing personal secrets to the world to Keith Jackson and a somewhat annoying Irish guy. The guy behind this delightful turn of events is the improbably-named Jed Drake, and he's possibly signaling a shift in ESPN policy away from "let's try to make Brian stab the cat":
"After the ['08] Euros we said, 'OK, let's take the presumption that we are going from scratch and start looking at those who can contribute at the highest level to our ongoing efforts in the world arena of football," said Jed Drake, ESPN's senior vice president and executive producer, event production.
Yes. Yes please.
Etc.: Cinci radio stations are getting uppity re: OSU. UMHoops interviews John Gasaway, the artist formerly known as Big Ten Wonk. Chuck Klosterman's new book is excerpted on Page 2; Michigan zone readin' it against Minnesota is a jump-off point for a Klosterman discursion into life, the universe, and everything. It probably says something uncomplimentary about me that I thought Klosterman's description of the play was irritatingly inaccurate in an article where Klosterman apologizes for the excessive football detail four or five times, even inviting readers to skip ahead.
Liveblog help. The liveblog needs more assistance, lest the current moderators die in a hail of comments. If you've participated in the commenting frequently, have a decent bank of MGoPoints, and would like to help out, please email me.
Madness! Madness-type object that's not at midnight goes down tonight at 9PM in Crisler, with doors at 8 and a "barbecue" from 7-8 on the east lawn, which sounds like a good idea except it's mid-October. Dylan has a primer for you. In celebration of the basketball team's achievements and in an attempt to make money, allow me to present MGoBlog's sweet basketball shirt:
It is, as per usual, by Six Zero. I know what you're thinking, guy who took Spanish in high school, but you're wrong: "sofa" is irregular and takes a masculine article. I looked it up three times.
While we're on the basketball team, Big Ten Geeks has a two-part preview of the season that focuses on tempo-free stats. The first part shows what you already know: Beilein's second year was a huge leap forward from his first. They ask this question;
Note that leap goes only to 50th, not the 40th you'd expect from Michigan's tournament seeding or the 32nd-ish you'd expect from their advancement to the second round. I expect the team to improve this year, but I'll be marking improvement from 50th.
The Geeks then attempt to answer their question with an array of tempo-free charts comparing Michigan's first two season under Beilein to West Virginia's first three. It appears the offense can expect another step forward in eFG%, but is probably maxing out in 3FGA/FGA and minimizing TOs as much as humanly possible.
Note: a reader gave me the idea for this shirt but a search of the ever-expanding, world-encompassing inbox does not turn up who it is. If it's you, email me and claim your reward.
Bombshell! This is what passes for the biggest story in the Free Press's world:
That's right: "Mom popped hood so boy could get gun, kill" and Taylor Swift (!!!) get second billing to the Free Press FOIAing the University for grade records—the one thing actually covered by the FERPA law that athletic departments abuse willy-nilly—multiple times and Rodriguez saying this:
I have mentioned publicly several times that the football team last year achieved the highest average GPA ever, and I'd like to set the record straight on that statement. Last fall, in order to boost academic performance, I asked the Academic Success Program for the highest-ever team GPA and challenged the players to beat it. The ASP doesn't track team GPAs, so they provided me with an estimate based on their experience dealing with individual performance. They did not make it clear that the number was just an estimate and not an exact calculation
The bastard. In a TLA, LOL. This
is getting has long been comical.
Wolverines, for real. They're remaking Red Dawn, for some reason, but at least they're doing it with proper respect for wolverines:
For former Michigan players Sean Griffin, Charles Stewart, Darnell Hood and Brandent Englemon, playing high school football players -- for a team named the Wolverines, no less -- in the remake of the 1980's movie "Red Dawn," came, in some respects, almost naturally.
"It's just football," said Griffin, a 2008 U-M graduate and former long snapper.
It's not just football, it's a titanic struggle against communism in a dystopic alternate reality, Sean. Let's get with the program.
I once went to the world's worst staging of any play—they sang "Silent Night" at the end—just because Jamar Adams and Jake Long and Chad Henne were vaguely in it, so I guess I have to go see the remake of Red Dawn now. The dangerous precedents I set.
Happy fun time forever hurray! Rick Leach finally followed through on his promise to bring down the thunder on someone for not being all in for Rich Rodriguez. As you've no doubt already found out because I've been studiously avoiding the topic to the point where Doctor Saturday himself pinged me to inform me about this event, it was Lloyd Freakin' Carr:
This morning former U-M QB Rick Leach dialed up WTKA’s Michigan Insider with Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub to sound off about the report that Rodriguez backed off the claim that the team hit the highest GPA in team history. Leach painted it as another attempt by the media to discredit Rodriguez, paraphrasing: “turning a good story into a bad one.”
But then Leach took aim at former coach Lloyd Carr, asking folks to investigate where and with whom Carr sat at the Iowa game. … Per Leach, this act is effectively waving a “middle finger” at U-M.
I find this wonderful in all ways and love everything forever. Like everyone else who reads a lot of Michigan message boards, I've heard dark stories about Carr and Eastern regent James Stapleton—a guy who thought Brian Ellerbe's firing was racist!—and what some brilliant, anonymous person called the "shadow government" in Ypsilanti, all of the vague beyond the point of usefulness and extremely irritating. I've never found anyone worth citing, even if I maybe kind of believe certain aspects of it. Which I think I do. But I haven't heard anything worth publishing. When and if I do, I'll publish it.
Bracelet note. If you clicked the button on the top right to donate to Phil Brabbs and get yourself a cancer kicker bracelet, there is another step you have to execute: email email@example.com to tell them how many you'd like. Details here. Video blog from Brabbs and wife here.
You can see Hemingway two steps beyond his guy, loping down field. He pulls up, thus turning a potential deep completion into an easy interception. This guy's answer: no, it wasn't Hemingway's fault. If he'd kept going on his route he might have had a chance to break the play up but watch the video; watch how long the safety is just waiting for the ball to come directly to him:
Receiver or no, that is not a good throw. Especially with Odoms hand-wavingly wide open underneath.
Inside vs outside zone. I've struggled to recognize the differences between inside and outside zone plays for a long time now, but Chris Brown (Not That Chris Brown) has illuminated it for me, and for you:
On outside zone plays, the "covered" offensive linemen (those with a defender lined up directly in front of them) will take a little bit more of a lateral first step and try to "reach" the defender -- that is, get their body in position to seal the defender from chasing the ball outside. The running back aims for a point outside the tight end, though he can cut it upfield wherever a seam appears.
Michigan hardly ever gets outside the tight end, or outside the tackle, because defensive ends are coached to get upfield and force the play back inside of them. When they do get outside the tackle it's usually a big gainer. A large number of Michigan's outside zone (or "stretch") plays end up going between the tackle and the center; the guard to that side of the field releases downfield to get a block on a linebacker.
Anyway, this causes people to start flowing fast to the sideline, at which point it's time to hit them with a counter. The simplest zone counter is to just execute the same play with a slightly different goal:
Once the defense begins flowing too fast to the sideline, Wilson will come back to the inside zone. The rules are the same -- covered and uncovered -- except this is more of a drive block as the aiming points are inside. The play often results in a cutback if the defense is flowing fast for the outside zone, but the difference between the outside zone is one of technique, not assignment.
So instead of trying to get around your guy with a reach block and sealing him, you just shove him down the line and have Minor cut behind you.
Here's an a-ha I just had. You know how Michigan was blocking the backside end much of the day? All those must have been inside zone plays. These days unblocked DEs tend to crash down on the backside, turning cutback lanes into minimal gains. Blocking that guy gives your moosebot tailback the opportunity to cut back on the inside zone without getting an unblocked DE in his face.
Etc.: Guess what Pryor's running now? The spread 'n' shred. Also this counter draw play OSU is running is something Michigan should put in the Robinson playbook. You can sign up to support Michigan Stadium's World Cup bid. There is a student protest today at City Hall to fight for State Street's right to party. The Beastie Boys would be proud. Correction: the Beastie Boys 20 years ago would be proud. The current Beastie Boys are very disappointed you're not thinking about Tibet.
Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.
Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":
In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.
FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.
Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:
Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.
I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:
"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."
I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.
(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)
The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:
When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”
That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.
The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:
His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …
"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."
Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.
Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:
"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "
This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.
Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:
HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.
I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:
Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.
“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”
Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.
Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:
For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.
Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.
Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.
Blather about "true running style": inane.
Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?
Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:
The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.
Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:
A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.
This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.
Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.
Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.
I'm headed out to Iowa City soon, so somewhat abbreviated today.
Get a bracelet. Phil Brabbs has just started his chemotherapy, which you can read about on his blog, and he's also offering up these stylish "cancer kicker" bracelets for the impossibly low suggested donation of $2:
You can get them by donating the funds (and possibly, you know, another five bucks or so to defray the costs of freakin' cancer) to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can just click the donation button to the right. It should donate to the right place and either ask for or confirm your shipping address with PayPal. Consume! I will repost this Monday!
Elsewhere, MGoTalk has posted an interview with Brabbs.
Hey, wow, this might be a good idea. Jay Bilas says the NCAA basketball committee is thinking of getting rid of limits on phone calls:
The NCAA is on the way to getting something right through a proposal to allow unlimited phone calls to recruits during contact periods. I have long been a vocal opponent of the phone call restrictions on college coaches in recruiting.
While well-intentioned, the rule prohibits coaches from normal contact with recruits while the rest of the free world gets unfettered access to them. The unintended consequences from the rule swamped its good intentions, by making those outside of the NCAA's reach more powerful and criminalizing normal communication.
As per usual when Jay Bilas is not talking about Tommy Amaker, I agree. They'd have to get rid of the limitations for all sports, right? And then texting limitations seem archaic and silly. Ron Zook is walking around looking like that creepy Enzyte guy and has no idea why. On the other hand, Kelvin Sampson knows exactly why he wants to punch a baby seal.
Yuck. This quote from Trevor Anderson is decidedly Carr-esque:
"They did everything that we practiced this week,” Anderson said. “When they decided to put in (Denard Robinson), we knew they were going to run the ball. They couldn’t throw it with him. As far as Forcier, we knew about his little stutter step, he’s going to jab to the outside and come back in. Everything that they practiced, we did."
Evidence for the mania. The point on Robinson is very duh, but the rest of it suggests Michigan did not pull new stuff out against State. Also—and this is a point Tim made on the podcast—with Forcier limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday, Michigan probably couldn't get confident enough in fancy new stuff that might, say, require option pitches and whatnot, to run it. It's probably hard as hell to install a new package when your freshman quarterback has his arm in a sling. That's probably not great for this weekend since Forcier was apparently limited early this week as well.
Next year, I expect Rodriguez will have a bunch of new stuff for MSU; if he doesn't I'll be disappointed.
Hockey weekend. Yost Built has your ten things for Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage this weekend. Here's my one thing:
White pants? You know, I did ask Bruce Madej if he could confirm or deny that Michigan would wear white pants this weekend. He said he could not confirm or deny, which seemed like sort of a confirmation. Mark Ortmann hopes it isn't:
Against Iowa, the Wolverines may complement their white away jerseys with white pants, but an Athletic Department spokesman told The Michigan Daily last night he had “no definitive answer.” The uniform change would include everyone, even the 300-pound linemen.
“I can’t imagine,” left tackle Mark Ortmann said with a laugh. “We already have some pretty self-conscious offensive linemen. I don’t know if that will help out."
The strangest thing about all this is that no one will say yes or no about it, as if it's a state secret. The pants! They are white! We all must die!
I'm out. Wish me luck.
The Mealer item. E:60's report on Mealer:
Return of the FORK. Troy Woolfolk is at least getting a tryout at cornerback:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez did not address the possible position switch in his pre-practice meeting with the media, and it’s unclear where Woolfolk will play Saturday against Iowa.
I'm not sure if I like that or not. Woolfolk might allow the corners to press up more, but can Williams play deep centerfield?
The Ill-Fated Punt. MVictors has an excellent clip from Rodriguez's press conference in which he explains what happened on that punt. It is as suggested: Michigan has a rugby call, which they made, that always has a read element, which Mesko botched. A couple emailers suggested that Rodriguez's honesty about the call constituted throwing Zoltan under the bus, but if you listen to the clip it's clear that he's doing nothing of the sort. He does sound pretty baffled by the whole thing, as was everyone.
Get on the bus. A hockey version of the Maize Rage has/is forming and intends to use its power for invasion:
According to co-founders of the group, juniors Jamie Fogel and Chuck Boyer, organized trips to games in East Lansing, Madison, Sault Ste. Marie and Toledo are in the works. The group also plans to have buses available for the Great Lakes Invitational tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Dec. 29.
"Some of this will obviously depend on how involved people get and whether or not people want to take the initiative," Fogel said. "But this is also something that will eventually grow, because it’s only the first year."
The Madison game is the outdoor one. I'm all for Michigan becoming a team that travels to reasonably nearby places and takes over. Munn should be deliciously empty this year, ripe for someone to come in and make any noise whatsoever, shocking all in attendance.
It will always be in Florida. It will always be against the SEC. When the bowl realignments were tentatively announced in late August, the Gator Bowl entered our lives. The Big Ten #4 was supposed to get the ACC #3, and everyone kind of shrugged. Everyone above .500 in the conference plays on New Year's Day, the Big Ten plays up, annoyingly, everything's the same lalala.
OH NO LEE CORSO!
WHAT'S GOING ON LEE CORSO?
The Konica Minolta Gator Bowl is on the verge of announcing a deal that will bring a Southeastern Conference team vs. a Big Ten team to the New Year's Day bowl game at the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, from 2010-2013.
Out goes the ACC. In comes the SEC, and everyone groans at Yet Another Big Ten-SEC New Year's Day In Florida matchup. One twist: the Gator still gets the Big Ten #4, but it's stooping all the way to the SEC #6(!), which means that for the first time the Big Ten is playing down in a bowl game instead of up. So there's that. Last year Northwestern would have taken on Vanderbilt, which sounds like a horrendous New Year's game but a fantastic opportunity to buff up the ol' bowl record.
(HT: Doc Sat.)
Breakin' ankles. Via UMHoops, some tantalizing highlights of Darius Morris:
He is now Angerererererererery. Starting Iowa linebacker and obviously fake person who only exists in a movie script Pat Angerer has torn ligaments in his thumb and will wear a cast on Saturday. This (very) marginally increases Michigan's chances of victory. If Tate Forcier throws a ball at Angerer or Robinson darts into him, the folk in question may escape with their lives. But really I'm just mentioning it for this:
"You don't need thumbs,'' he said. "My best friend is my brother's dog. He doesn't have any thumbs and he's doing fine.''
That is all.
"Watch out, Sydney Crosby" is a bit much but daaaang.
Etc.: Daily notes that Michigan's hockey game at Camp Randall is actually exempt by the NCAA(!). Michigan will get in 37 regular season games this year with the trip to Alaska. Do you need bizarrely swarthy Forcier-as-Link wallpaper? Sure you do.
New shirts! The MGoStore is rocking two new shirts. One of them is pretty obvious. The other is, er… not. Click either for link:
Yes, the back of the Cone shirt says "leave ya twisted with chalk around ya body" in tribute to Cone rapping up a storm. WOOOOO. Get 'em while they last. Shoelace will be around for a bit, of course. Cone will be in our hearts forever but since it's kind of doubtful he gets a fifth year you probably want to scoop those bad boys up ASAP.
NOTE for folks who live in Ann Arbor and hate the idea of paying shipping costs: MGoShirts are available at Underground's retail space on South U. My cut there is the same as the one online, for people super concerned about the cash flow here. (This does happen.)
Outback Bowlin'. Orson Swindle would do well to avoid this vein-popping Zook special, but you're not Orson so here's the Wolverine Historian version of the 2003 Outback Bowl:
Part Two awaits in the lightbox.
I don't know if this is good or bad. Justin Turner was credited with a special teams tackle on Saturday, but that did not actually happen:
MSU corrected the official boxscore Sunday to show Jonas Mouton in on the tackle, and Turner, the No. 2-rated player in Michigan's 2009 recruiting class according to Rivals.com, remains eligible to redshirt.
So he's probably going to redshirt, and JT Floyd is going to start. Hurrah for good roster management? Boo because of thin secondary depth and the oddity of having such a highly-rated guy on a redshirt track? You make the call.
Also of indeterminate benefit. Rodriguez is going to take a look at linebackers who aren't Ezeh or Mouton (both of whom are at least making a number of good plays to go along with their terrible horrible not good ones in the UFR I've gotten to):
Yeah, every job is up for grabs every week,” Rodriguez said. “It sounds like coach speak, but our guys know they have to play at a certain level. Jonas (Mouton) and Obi (Ezeh) have played very, very hard. … I think Jonas is a very active player, and Obi has played solid, as well, but we can all play better.” …
"You take away a couple of those scramble plays, their big third and long passes, and it was a pretty solid effort,” Rodriguez said. “But you have to count those. Those are part of the whole deal. … We've got to be more consistent I think is the word in all three phases, particularly defensively."
"Player X has played very hard" is an excellent backhanded compliment. FWIW, I don't think anything will come of the starting jobs potentially coming open given Fitzgerald's shaky cameo and Leach's meh performance in the Eastern game. At least Mouton, who does appear to be blitzing a lot more recently, has guru-approved (and obvious) athletic ability. Leach doesn't.
As long as we're talking about the possibility of walk-ons busting into the starting lineup, let's highlight this bolded bit from yesterday's press conference recap:
Mike Williams wasn't 100% going into the game, but taking him out for Kovacs was a substitution issue, not an injury issue.
IE: Kovacs is just playing because the coaches think he's better. Williams got yanked quickly, too, right after he failed to get out on a short zone when Michigan was running three-deep and gave up a 15-yard hitch on Michigan State's endless drive. I didn't even think that was his fault, FWIW, as he was tasked with faking a blitz and had no chance to get out there; with Warren playing in the parking lot that play was super easy. FWIW, Kovacs has turned in a couple of impressive tackles so far. He's probably a disaster in coverage but Michigan is using him as downhill run-stuffer, something he seems capable of.
Family values, but on the tee-vee. Elliot Mealer will feature on that ESPN newsmagazine show E:60. You know, the one with jump cuts of Jeremy Schaap. Details:
Sports leader ESPN has followed the Mealer and Richer families for a year documenting how each family dealt with grief while moving ahead with their lives. On Tuesday the segment will air for the first time on ESPN and ESPN HD on a program called E:60 at 7 p.m.
"I first got contacted really early in the morning after I had just spoken at a FCA event at Napoleon High School," explained Elliott Mealer, a senior at the time of the accident that claimed two lives. "We talked it over as a family and all agreed that this could be something that could bring a positive light to the accident and everything after. As a little kid you always dream about being on ESPN and I guess in this sense it is bittersweet. I really wish I didn't have a story to tell but the fact of the matter is I do."
Worth examining, yes, I talk like Yoda for no reason mmmm.
Oh noes! You probably remember the nonstop caterwauling from Notre Dame fans in the aftermath of the referees getting Armando Allen's screen non-touchdown right. I wonder if they will take up arms and demand justice from the Big East replay officials on behalf of Washington:
That knee you see on the ground is Robert Hughes's. His entire body, and therefore the ball, is outside the endzone at this moment. This is the two point conversion that Notre Dame got to go up three, and without it they would have lost 30-28 in regulation. The lack of a review here is inexplicable. It was obvious the instant NBC cut to a replay of the play. CONSPIRACY
(Also, people: download a torrent and get a frame from that instead of taking pictures of your TV.)
Etc.: This is not Mark May pantomiming Lou Holtz performing fellatio on Jimmah, but it kind of looks like it is. Barwis porn migrates to web comics. Braves & Birds is confused about how to feel about the game Saturday.