...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
An earlier thread today about which of UM's top 3 rivals ND, OSU, MSU was most beatable prompted me to suggest that the new divisional setup might eventually change Michigan fans priorities about who you most love to beat, since only MSU is in the Legends division. After all, a loss to OSU doesn't affect winning the division as much as a loss within the division. And a loss the ND has no effect on winning the B1G.
I was surprised by the one reply I got, "Yes, we want to win our division. But it's arguable which would be better: winning our division but losing to these three schools, or not winning the division but beating these three. Honestly, I'd probably take the latter, assuming MSU doesn't win the division."
I know Big Ten rivalries are more important than in other conferences. Nebraska's biggest rivalry was with Oklahoma, it paled in comparison with UM-OSU. But it was built on the fact that the winner usually determined the Big 8 title, the Orange Bowl, and maybe a NC shot. As a B1G newcomer, I'm sure Nebraska fans will feel the same way, whoever consistently blocks our path in the Legends will become our biggest rival.
What do MGoBoard members think, faced with the hypothetical "beat our 3 top rivals or win the division/B1G title" ?
And a more real-world scenario: will winning divisional games change the importance of --well, at least ND or MSU???
UPDATED: Everybody good-naturedly wacked me for confusing Legends/Leaders in original post, still suffering mental block not liking the names.
Thanks for the responses, great board
I am not wearing the Maize colored glasses today sipping Hoke's Special Kool-Aid by my UM-themed pool thinking about a Top 10 D, but am considering our current situation and some recent player comments. When considering the following, I wonder if we have a chance at the record of the biggest jump:
- We are starting from 108 out of 120 which provides a chance for a big leap
- We are returning a decent number of starters
- Huge, huge upgrade at DC
- Apparent upgrade with Defensive position coaches
- Comments like "Everyone knows their roles. Everyone knows why they've got to do this, why they've got to do that. In the old defense, we just knew this was what we were supposed to do. We really didn't understand it." from Jibreel Black seeming to indicate that we at least understand the scheme better.
I suppose the only wildcard to dramatic improvement would if the offense implodes and stresses our defense. Just getting to average provides a 50 spot boost. Allowing 350 yards a game and cracking the top 40 is a 68 position jump. Maybe that is not completely unreasonable considering spots 35-45 last year were NCST, Arizona, Illinois, Hawaii, Va Tech, Fla St, Missouri, San Diego State, Air Force, Penn State, Maryland. Granted, that is a 100 yards/game improvement from last year which would be stunning. I don't know what our upside is, I am at least feel optimistic about our chances.
New video is up on MGoBlue.com updating the work on Crisler, Yost and Michigan Stadium. It's going to look nice kids!
Reasons you should click this link: http://www.mgoblue.com/allaccess/?media=247054
- I don't know how to embed
- Hoke pointing (:11)
- Omameh letting us know how to say his name (O-mah-'may'), and being huge (:42)
- Molk being a stocky boulder right behind him (:42)
- Dong Forest!! (:47)
- Funk teaching base/drive blocking (they're zone women, coach!) (:55)
- Coach Jackson lacking in superlatives (1:07)
- Denard smiles and your mom says "Awwww..." (1:10)
- T. Gordon now wearing #30, or they ordered his t-shirt wrong (1:39)
- BWC knows the rules (2:15)
- Your grandma gets a sack (2:30)
- Roh indeed looks a bit bigger... hasn't helped his dance moves (2:38)
- Coming out of the Tunnel at the Big House, always a sight (2:56)
- Bottle up that determination (3:42)
- Koger needs some TE love (3:51)
- $100,000+ raised this year, $1,300,000 since 1998
- An incredible cause, and a great group of players. Send your girls next year if you can
So the coaching change.
This off-season has had two main points of contention.
- Whether or not Denard can still Denard people under center and in the pocket
- Whether Mattison will turn our ramshackle defense of 2010 into a warrior manbear.
I tend to focus on the defense [insert joke of how watching tape time and again of last year's defense is akin to watching a sport about kicking puppies] and in that regard I feel that it was folly to look at our defense last year as a whole, mostly because we were so small. So I look at tackling technique.
That is an incredibly depressing starting point. Can it improve? Has it already? Let's head down to the spring game from this year, with the same equations as before:
Tackling Efficiency = (Made tackles – Missed Tackles) / (Bad Form Tackles + 1)
- Bad form tackles account for terrible form (bad angles, too high, getting shook etc)
Tackling % = Made tackles / Made + Missed
And Hope. We tackled. Well at times even. Against a prolific offense (I will assume a 75% production level from last year which still makes it a prolific offense).
Now to the comparison. Included are season averages for any returning players I had reliable numbers on.
Spring Game in Blue and 2010 Season in Red
- This is one small data set to derive from. Our offense was still learning the system and we probably had not instituted a lot of coverage packages or blitz packages
- That being said, you can easily see improvement in technique and ability. We came in in good form, and more often than not made the tackle.
- If Jake Ryan can produce at that level against our 1s, he should start over Cam Gordon. That kid was absolutely everywhere. My best takeaway message from this was that sending him off the edge on a blitz was a matchup problem if he was being blocked by a [Ed-M: 3rd string] TE or even a T. He was good in coverage, and filled holes on the run. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was by his play.
- I don’t think Kovacs had a very good day. I can’t say at this point that I would rather have Marvin Robinson start, but based on the fact that he provided minimal run support here and little coverage support last year, I think his athleticism, or lack thereof, might be a net negative if he's in a starting role. However tackling hasn't been a problem for him before, so a platoon role with Robinson inside the M 30 might make use of his strengths without exposing his weaknesses so much, provided that...
- Marvin Robinson is a good football player. He might have made a bad read on that long TD, but he was there in coverage and made some nice plays on run support. I would like to see him spell Kovacs in lesser games to build confidence and play reading ability.
- I am REALLY excited about Richard Ash. Had good hands and solid footwork coming off the edge and held up against single teams.
- Marell Evans is a solid option. I'm interested to see how the fall competition between him and Demens plays out. I also don’t know who our starting LBs will be, as Ryan, Jones, Gordon, Demens, and Evans all have upside... finally some depth.
- Will Campbell was Will Campbell. Made some good plays, and just didn’t get moved some plays. I feel like he still loses aggression every so often, but if he finds out how to turn it on every play he can be a manbeast.
- Carvin Johnson is [metaphorically a male horse used for breeding]. Enough said.
- I did not notice Mike Martin too often, which is good and bad. Jibreel Black might be the player I'm most excited to watch develop this year. He is going to be a MONSTER.
- Finally, Courtney Avery will be a starter come September. Good coverage, good run support. Also, I liked Greg Brown.
There probably isn't a more anticipated position group for the Michigan coaches to get on campus than the 2011 offensive line commitments. With only three signed in the class they need all the depth they can get. When Illinois lineman Chris Bryant announced his commitment to Michigan it was a sigh of relief for the fans and coaches alike. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound guard waited all the way until January 28th to announce that decision and chose Michigan over the likes of Arizona, Illinois, Pittsburgh, and Stanford.
Now that Chris is only a week away from making the trek to Ann Arbor to start his new journey he says it's all starting to become real. "It hasn't really hit me yet, I don't think it will really hit me until I get down there," he said. "We're moving in on the 25th, I'm not going to be there this weekend [the 17th] with Jordan because I want to spend time with my family. The whole process is something you dream about and it doesn't even seem real yet." While everything is sinking in, Bryant has already started to think about what he's most excited for once he gets to campus. "I think seeing my name in the locker room, and having it be official. Putting on that winged helmet and just being a part of all that tradition is just exciting," said Bryant.
Often times offensive linemen can have one of the more difficult transitions from high school to college. Their training both on the field and off the field can be drastically different, which is why Bryant is trying to follow everything by the books. "It's a big jump from high school and a lot of work, but I'm trying to do the workout book they sent me," he said. "They want me up there at 335 pounds and I'm at 340 right now. The conditioning was the toughest part but that's preparing for the next level."
Preparing his body is only one part of the process for Chris, and he also understands that he will have a huge adjustment to make in his academic and social life. "I'm going to try to balance my time with all the things being around my class, the weight room, in everything I do balance will play a big part in that," he said.
As Bryant gets closer to joining the Wolverine family he's had plenty of time to reflect on his journey. The recruiting process was long and sometimes tiresome for Bryant which is why he's passed on some of his knowledge to teammate Jordan Diamond. "I waited everything out and took my time, which was good and bad. It got to be really long for me," Bryant said. "It's Jordan's decision and he has a lot of offers from great football schools and great academic schools, but I tell him Michigan has both. He grew up a Michigan fan, so that makes it a little easier, but he'll make the right choice."
Bryant may not be nudging Diamond to join him in Ann Arbor, but the sheer fact that he'll be there makes it a little more comfortable for Jordan without saying anything. Having close friends and family close by makes it easier for anyone to adjust, and that holds true for Bryant as well. "When I went up there for the spring game that's when a lot of kids in my class went up and we all just bonded. We are really close, and there's not one person that I bonded with more than another. It's just a big family there and that's what's special about it," he said. Chris will be rooming with fellow 2011 signee TE Chris Barnett once he gets to Ann Arbor, and said that he's ready for everything in front of him.