this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
A couple weeks ago, I put together a google map with all of the Michigan bars I'm aware of (and also everything from the spreadsheet that bouje has been maintaining.) The map is here.
Hopefully this will prevent the "where's the Michigan bar in Pittsburgh/Fresno/Topeka/wherever" threads that pop up every week, but if your favorite gameday hangout isn't on here, put it in the thread and let me know. I'll do my best to keep the map up to date.
Will just post the tweets of the beat reporters, lots of good nuggets here:
Harbaugh met today with beat writers. On Norfleet: "it's our desire he remain at Michigan." said there's a "plan" in place to get his degree— angelique (@chengelis) July 28, 2015
Harbaugh says they have discussed adding helmet stickers for players but it's not defined.— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) July 28, 2015
Jabrill Peppers...Harbaugh says "a possibility" JP plays offense...and return...so a three-way player— angelique (@chengelis) July 28, 2015
Harbaugh says no more legends jerseys.— angelique (@chengelis) July 28, 2015
Harbaugh says Drake Harris will be ready to go physically when camp starts, Drake Johnson will be available too, working back to health— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 28, 2015
Harbaugh is still deciding about how to use helmet stickers (or if he'll use them). Doesn't expect any alternate uniforms this year.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 28, 2015
Harbaugh says he feels like he always does before camp...and said he has had his "football dream". always "the final drive" and he's playing— angelique (@chengelis) July 28, 2015
Yesterday's position preview thread was entertaining, so let's try it again.
One injury to the top four in this unit could create a problem, especially at corner. With Countess still in the fold, Michigan had three corners it could count on as Peppers adjusted to his new position. Now, the team's down to two.
This is a big fall camp for players like Stribling, Thomas, Watson, Hill and Clark.
The group as a whole has to develop a more aggressive mentality. We know Peppers and Lewis play that way. We're pretty sure Lyons does, too.
"On Saturday morning, 5-star linebacker Caleb Kelly, a Michigan prospect, posted a message saying that Michigan would miss Norfleet’s energy. According to Snyder of the Freep, Norfleet sent a farewell message on Instagram to fullback Joe Kerridge."
Best wishes to Dennis and thank you for yoru hard work during your time with Michigan!
To help pass time in the latter weeks of the offseason, I thought it would be fun to write up “best-case scenarios” for the upcoming season. This isn’t meant to be a prediction of what you think will actually occur; rather, have fun imagining a season that is unlikely, but not impossible. So, although this is an imaginative exercise, it must have at least a semblance of realism and plausibility.
The way I completed my scenario, and what I’d recommend to those of you who want to participate, is to complete two steps.
1) Pick a regular season record that you think is this year’s best case scenario
2) On a (mostly) game-by-game basis, describe a season that would yield the record you picked in part 1. Note: this structure will not describe your single best-case scenario. For example, I have us losing to BYU in my best-case scenario. That does not mean I think that there is no way that we could beat BYU, just that I think the best-case scenario would be 10-2 and this story is one possible manifestation of that.
3) (Optional, but encouraged) Have fun with it and be creative!
So, without further ado, my best-case scenario:
On the first night of the season, the eyes of the nation turn to Salt Lake City for Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Tied at 17 after an hour of play, the Utes and Wolverines provide the first overtime of the 2015 season. The teams trade touchdowns and head to a second OT, with Michigan having first possession. On 2nd and 7, our still developing OL allows an unfortunate 15 yard sack on a missed assignment. Fortunatley, Michigan salvages the drive and manages to eek out a long field goal following a long third down run. Next, Utah receives possession and immediately delivers a long pass to set up 1st and Goal on the six yardline. Sensing victory, the crowd is roaring and Michigan fans groan. “At least this game was competitive, we’re going in the right direction,” they think to themselves. But it was not to be! A gutsy, aggressive blitz combined with a bad snap leads to a Utah fumble and Michigan recovery. The 10,000 maize and blue fans who made the trek to SLC scream so loud it almost sounds as if the home team won. Harbaugh starts off undefeated, but our rivals bemoan the “lucky break” that caused our victory. Michigan rolls back into the Big House and easily dispatches Oregon State and UNLV, by margins of 20 and 28, respectively. The two crowds tally over 110,000 each, it’s sunny and 75 both days, and the Big House feels like it should again.
After a few teams on the lower end of the top 25 drop surprise upsets or are blown out by higher ranked teams, Michigan reemerges in the rankings at #25. The media starts to buzz about U of M (has Harbaugh really done it?) and most analysts update their 7/8 win projections to 9.
However, BYU, angry after two very close (less than a touchdown) losses to Boise State and UCLA, invades Ann Arbor on a mission. Eventual Heisman finalist Taysom Hill helps the Cougars to an early outburst and BYU leads Michigan 17-3 at the end of the 1st and 24-10 at halftime. In the second half, Michigan’s defense adjusts and limits BYU to 10 points, but the offense cannot create enough momentum to dig itself out of the hole. BYU defeats Michigan 34-24. Fans and haters alike are very critical; the Utah game is cast aside as an insignificant fluke (despite Utah only losing by one touchdown in Eugene to Oregon), Oregon State loses its conference opener to Stanford by 2 touchdowns at home to further damage our resume, and Michigan plummets out of even the “others receiving votes” categories in the rankings. Consensus is that Harbaugh won’t have a chance to beat OSU or MSU until 2017.
Internally, Harbaugh and the team are angry. But, instead of continually touting a “we’re a great team no matter the results” mindset, the team embraces the tough reality that improvement is needed. Michigan quietly defeats Maryland by 10 points in a defensively skewed victory as the Terps wade into what will be an abysmal Big Ten season for them (last place finish in the East). At Homecoming, Harbaugh continues one of the rare, positive Brady Hoke traditions by beating the Wildcats. However, instead of another dull nailbiter (upvote for oxymoron usage), after a 10-10 halftime tie Michigan’s offense finally seems to put it all together for the first time since UNLV and the defense shuts out NW en route to a 31-10 win.
October 17th, 2015. Michigan State returns to the Big House, after its longest absence in the series' history, undefeated and ranked #5 in the country. Although Oregon does not look quite as good as past years (and MSU only defeated them via a last second touchdown), after blowout victories over its other 3 weaker, non-conference opponents (and the low-end BIG programs of Purdue and Rutgers) the Spartans are in the national title conversation. Michigan is 5-1 (2-0) and unranked. Nobody is expecting a game.
However, these 2015 Spartans have yet to be tested by a truly strong defense, or visit an intimidating environment, and it won’t be long before pundits laugh at the fact MSU was a 21 point favorite. An early Cook to Peppers interception gives Michigan the ball on the 20 yard line, allowing a lead off touchdown and the Big House crowd to feel validated for its pre-game rowdiness. Yet, MSU immediately responds with a slow, calculated, 90 yard TD drive to tie the game. The next 20 minutes are a defensive slugfest with each team scoring one field goal. Michigan completes another field goal with 2:30 to go in the half to take a 13-10 lead.
MSU responds by quickly driving into Michigan territory, but is stopped on the Michigan 21 yard line. 4th and 4. Dantonio’s penchant for fake plays, and his unbridled hatred for U of M, inspire him to go for the lead instead of the “safe” field goal. He will regret it. UM’s special teams are competent for the first time in ages under the expert Baxter’s tutelage and, in Michigan’s play of the year, the Wolverines break up MSU’s fake field goal and return it for a touchdown. Despite MSU having more yards and time of possession, Michigan leads 20-10 at halftime, with 14 points due in large part to turnovers. The Spartans respond in the third quarter by completely shutting down the UM offense. However, facing an inspired and improved UM defense, and a ferocious Big House crowd, Cook and Co. can only manage two field goals in the quarter. 20-16 UM going into the 4th. Another stalled U of M drive leads off the final quarter, followed by a long, 80 yard TD drive for the Spartans. MSU captures its first lead of the day; it's 23-20 with about eight minutes left in the game.
Sadly, yet another Michigan three and out is followed by a clock-eating Spartan drive. Nervous tension is palpable in the crowd as Harbaugh uses his time outs. Fortunately, our defense shows it really is even better than the last few years by holding firm in the red zone to force a field goal. MSU leads 26-20 with a little over 2 minutes to play. There is one last chance. Given the Spartan’s incredibly strong rush defense, but relatively weak secondary, coupled with Michigan’s lack of offensive production since the early second quarter, Harbaugh opens up the playbook and switches quarterbacks.
It pays off. A few 25 yard passes to Darboh and Cole allow a QB sneak into the end zone. 27-26 UM. MSU has 20 seconds to try a few Hail Mary plays. But this is no “Wisconsin 2011” miracle game for the Spartan faithful; Peppers makes a diving interception on a final desperation “toss-it up” play. UM wins a thriller. The crowd roars and gleefully scream-sings The Victors. Dantonio scowls for the next month and offers lame, Izzoian excuses throughout his press conference. Harbaugh doesn’t mind. Ann Arbor celebrates into the night, but no couches are burned because we are too classy for that.
After the bye, Michigan reemerges in the rankings at #19 to face #18 Minnesota. Both are one loss teams (Minnesota boasts a ten point loss to current undefeated and #3 TCU), coming off a big home win (Nebraska, for Minnesota) and a bye. Michigan has once again started to receive national hype and pundits are starting to intently debate which Michigan team poses a bigger threat to the Buckeyes in November.
On a bitter cold Halloween night in Minneapolis, a brutal defensive battle ensues between two teams with inconsistent offenses. Unfortunately, despite tallying more total yards than the Gophers, Michigan comes up short after failing to make it to the end zone and repeatedly settling for field goals. Minnesota wins 13-12.
Once again, Michigan’s last game of the month is a heartbreaker and they fall out of the national conversation. Yet, the Wolverines rally again against two inferior Big Ten opponents, beating both Rutgers and Indiana by comfortable, but not quite blowout, margins.
At 8-2 (5-1) #18 Michigan heads into Happy Valley to face #8 Penn State. The Nittany Lions have lost in a blowout at the Horseshoe, but with six close victories of 7 points or less against one of the conference’s easiest schedules, and a top 5 national defense, they enter at 9-1 (5-1) as significant (but not overwhelming) favorites.
This defensive slugfest is reminiscent of old school football. Locked up at 10-10 with 4:30 to play in the fourth quarter, another field goal is blocked in front of the white-out. However, this play elicits gasps instead of cheers from the home crowd. After the block, Harbaugh’s offense comes to life when it needs to, wiping out most of the clock and taking the ball to the PSU 19 yard line. Yet, true to form, the PSU D holds when it needs to, forcing a medium-range winning field goal attempt. Wolverine fans begin to have PTSD nightmares. It turns out to be unwarranted; the kick is straight through the uprights, silencing the deafening crowd as Michigan wins 13-10 and only a couple thousand of the 108,000 in attendance leave the valley happy. Wolverine fans flip the channel to watch the final minutes of OSU’s 14 point victory over the Spartans. The Horseshoe spews out vociferous boos on live TV as the PA system announces the final score from Happy Valley. As unlikely as it seemed over the summer, the Big Ten East Champion will be decided on the Big Ten’s largest stage, in its greatest rivalry game.
#12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1) vs #1 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0). Same rankings as 1969. The Game returns to the national spotlight of bygone days. Much to the chagrin of the SEC, GameDay heads to Ann Arbor instead of Auburn (#3 Bama vs. #7 Auburn). It’s one for the ages. For the third year in a row, The Game is tied 21-21 at halftime. After the third quarter, OSU leads 28-27 as Michigan once again fails to complete its drives and settles for two field goals. The teams trade field goals early in the fourth, then OSU has an explosive drive against a tired Michigan Defense to go ahead 38-30. Michigan follows up with a three and out. It’s starting to look grim.
OSU drives from their own 20 to the Michigan 40. It’s third and five with 3:15 to play. Knowing how crucial this play is, the Big House reaches unprecedented noise levels. The fan effort pays off: false start, OSU. Elliot makes a five yard run, but given the penalty it’s not enough and OSU punts into the end zone (Urban screams his lungs out at both the OL player and punter during the entire TV timeout). Much like in the 2011 ND game, Michigan’s offense makes it happen, quickly. The WRs complete contested catches, the line holds its own/provides a pocket and ultimately Ty Issac dives into the north end zone with 15 seconds left in front of a roaring, maized-out student section. Only this time, the two point conversion is mandatory, not optional, as Michigan trails 38-36. PTSD from the 2013 season arises once again, but Harbaugh and Drevno call a better play than Borges did and it’s a success. 38-38.
Overtime in Ann Arbor: Michigan wins the toss and defers. Before OT begins, the TV announcers declare that although Michigan has put up yet another great fight against a more talented and experienced Buckeye squad, it’s highly implausible OSU’s outstanding offense will fail to score TDs given a short, overtime field. After all, it does appear that Michigan's players (on both sides of the ball) are running out of gas and adrenaline against the undisputed #1 team in the country.
However, these announcers fail to mention the potential equalizing X factor. A part of the game that has ruined Wolverine games for the better part of a decade. The factor that was bound to reverse itself at some point. Turnovers.
Peppers picks off Cardale Jones on the second play of OT. The Buckeye defense doesn’t give up a first down, but it doesn’t matter. A 35 yard field goal will suffice. The Wolverines stun the Buckeyes, 41-38 and now the Big House really feels like it should. Wolverines immediately start packing their bags for Indianapolis.
In an 85% UM fans, pseudo-home crowd at Lucas Oil, the Wolverines exact revenge on the surprising Golden Gophers of Minnesota. Harbaugh delivers his post-game presser with the BIG Trophy on one side and the Little Brown Jug on the other. At 11-2, Wolverine Nation awaits its bowl selection.
They will be heavily disappointed. The committee selects 11-1 Ohio State over 11-2 Michigan (along with 12-0 TCU, 12-1 Alabama and 11-2 UCLA). Although some Wolverine fans privately think to themselves that it may be the right call (OSU has won nearly all of its games by large margins and UCLA beat BYU), the outrage is comparable to the 1973 season. After all, conference championships were supposed to be important.
Michigan returns to Pasadena on New Year's Day to defeat ACC Champ Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame’s 8-5 final record (after an embarrassing bowl loss to Wisconsin) means that U of M is once again the winningest program in both number of games and percentage. Despite the incredibly successful season (finishing ranked #5 in all polls), Ohio State’s selection to the Playoff leaves a bitter taste in the team’s mouth. The words, “November 26th, 2016. Columbus, Ohio” are plastered on every wall inside Schembechler Hall.
Harbaugh’s Wolverines are hungrier than ever.
Just wanted to share this cool ad I stumbled across, Enjoy. Go Blue!
video below ⇓⇓