The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
I hope everybody enjoyed the bye week and watching football without caring too much about the result.With that in mind, I thought it be would be right to get this week off on a positive note. Now its back to a normal football week when we head to Happy Valley to play Penn State at 8pm on ESPN. I will be attending the game and hope to see some of you there, as it will be my first trip there and will need all the Michigan supporters I can get. Here's to a good work week to all of you and to a Michigan victory on Saturday. Go Blue!
Preface: I’m bored. I have a lot of time on my hands. If there are ideas for future betterments please post them and I shall learn. The PSU thing is just a small preview to hold you over for the real PSU stuff.
Did you know: Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Montana, born in 1989, is the second member of his family to be backup quarterback at Notre Dame (his father, Joe, played there from 1974-78)
- Denard was injured for the 5th in 7 games. Someone’s gotta say it , say it , and say it some more...I’m not debating on his touches, but this is something to keep an eye on.
- Molk: Nothing new on him. He should be back.
- Martin: Ditto Molk
- Shaw: Should be back this week.
- Fitz is still questionable. However, he is practicing.
Analysis: the team should have 4/5 returning. Beware the false returns though (they occurred to Tate last year, and will hopefully occur to Tacopants). Often players come back to play, but play injured, and are incapable of fulfilling their duties.
- Boldin: questionable
- Bani Gbadyu: questionable
- Gerald Hodges: questionable
- Michael Mauti: Back
- Eric Latimore: doubtful
- Jack Crawford: doubtful
Analysis: They will be playing with lots of injuries. Really, not much to say here besides things like that. I also believe that I missed a few injuries to the OL, but I can’t find links.
Denard’s improvement on passing:
Big thing to watch for as games come. Denard’s passing currently is doing things like this. He’s still on pace for 1879 Rushing Yards and 2276 passing, however teams are starting to key in on his lack of a long range passing game.
They are doing the right thing: in two games he’s got 4 interceptions and only rushing 191 yards on 4.9 YPC. He had topped 191 in the ND (258) and Indiana (217) games so yes, that is slowing him down. Let’s see how well he does this week. It’s important because:
- We will know more about if he can throw it well enough to keep D’s honest.
- This is a big step to make us a BTC contender for next year; we need that deep ball threat.
Denard is already a proven runner. My goal for his passing stats at the end of this year would be:
- One 35-yard completion each game (not including YAC). This would prove the kid can throw the ball downfield.
- Completion percentage of 65-70% When defenses are keying on his running, the receivers are open and Denard puts up ludicrous completion rates. But his INs have gone way up recently. Hopefully a week off has settled him back down.
- Less than 1 sack/game. This will mean that he's not taking all day thinking back there, and understands the routes better. Also, with his speed, this shouldn't be happening anyway.
This week we will likely hear about how Campbell will/won’t be moved. RR said in a presser that it will be decided over the week. I haven’t read anything about it during the bye so I’d assume we’ll hear about it soon. This will again stir up a lot of debate. My take: We need the DL more than OL. Why?
- After Khoury’s showing, we have more depth at OL than at DL.
- We had more even before Khoury’s showing.
- Who would the back-ups at DL be for next year? Ash and Talbott, the planet and the stick. Both would be a huge step down from Martin. This position needs a real blue chip (*waves hand like Obi wan* at Jernigan: "You want to come. Yes.")
- Even if Quinton Washington is moving to the "dark side," our DL needs bodies. This is a position where the 2-deep guys get a lot of playing time, and we're going to lose at least three (Banks, Patterson, Sagesse) at the end of the year, if not a crushing fourth (Martin). I, for one, am not yet ready to give up on having an upperclassman 5-star on the DL depth chart next year.
PSU/time to get happy
(you see what I did there? [Ed-M: Actually, no.])
PSU's Passing Game:
Penn State's offense truly is offensive.
- 18.2 PPG gets them dead last in the Big Ten.
- Boldin (or back-up) can not throw. (209 YPG, 8th best after week 7.)
- 8 INTs is second to ILL’s 9.
- Royster averages 64 YPG.
- Injuries to Boldin spell trouble for an already.
After facing a gauntlet of capable upperclassman (Chappell, Cousins, Stanzi), our secondary gets to take a major breather against Penn State's three-headed fail. Michigan will face one of these guys:
- True freshman returning from injury who has been pretty bad all year
- Sophomore who lost job to above freshman
- Paul and Kathy McGloin run a flower business in Scranton, Pa. They are very proud of their son Matthew, a redshirt sophomore who walked on the Pennsylvania State football team and accomplished what neither high-profile recruit above him could: throw two touchdowns against the only secondary in the Big Ten that might be worse than Michigan's. Unfortunately Paul and Kathy could not make it to Minneapolis to see their son play. Such is the flower business.
Did you know: Former Michigan starting quarterback Nick Sheridan is the son of Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bill Sheridan.
Martin was not Martin against Iowa, but he was Martin enough that he was cleared to play, which means his injury (thanks MSU cheap shot) could very well be all healed. With less to worry about from the passing game, expect Michigan to use a 4-man rush more often, allowing us to generate some...what's it called again? oh yes, pressure.
Pressure+freshman/backup/walk-on QB=int (see ND game).
PSU's Running Game.
Our run D has DEMENS!!!! I have written ad nauseam about this kid, suffice it so say our run D should be good (against the "TURRIBLE" that is PSU).
Here I'm hoping that the bye week will help Michigan as well, mostly so the freshmen can work on tackling, but also because it gives the coaching staff some time to make/solidify some roster moves (Demens practicing with the ones may convince Mouton he doesn't have to do everything by himself). Add the Bye Week Advantage and you get a better D. Add in Royster and Boldin/back-up and you get a good D. Add in
Vinopal (possible switch to starter) [Edit: Cam is still the starter] as the second white DB and you get a lot of questions, but hopefully more answers.
Prediction: we let up less than 350 against Penn State. I know that sounds high, but I just see them getting yards somehow.
- 1.) We have DENARD
- 2.) They have INJURRRRRED
Not really much to say here. They lost their 2 DEs (who are questionable or doubtful). They have a hodge-podge in their LBs that is about as bad as our secondary stuff. We also have Shaw and Molk coming back.
The only interesting part will be what the new DEs do. I’m assuming you’ll see them just sit down on EVERY zone-read (Mid-line please!!!). Their scoring D is ranked 4th in the Big Ten, but #1 is Iowa and #2 in MSU (#3s and 5 are still on our schedule, of course). We gained 899 against those two teams combined.
The thing to take away is that we can score on them, but we need to convert (like we failed to do against Iowa and MSU.) BUT WAIT. They are LAST in the Big Ten in red-zone D. You remember the Red Zone, where we lost the last two games with turnovers? Hope emerges. Also, hope that Hopkins gets playing time. I'm with Brian in that Smith's "just a guy" [Ed-M: albeit one who can run a killer route from the slot]. Hopefully this is the week that Michael "Don't call me Carlos Brown" Shaw and Stephan "Rhymes with Chiffon" Hopkins are the two for me after Iowa.
Prediction: 500+ yards of offense. 400 to Denard. Smith plays more than Hopkins and I cry inside.
Due to the not-overwhelming-but-still-pleasant response from last week’s Bruce Willis montage, I figured I would try this week to both recap the season so far in UM football, plus this past week’s prominent games, with one of America’s most storied thespians. Please feel free to comment away on the quality in the, um, well, comments section.
The Season So Far, or as I like to call it, the 6+1 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Recap
After two disheartening seasons, the talk at the end of last season was that Rich Rodriguez needed to start winning or else it would be the
for him in Ann Arbor. Reports during the offseason pointed to the offense making strides even while the defense suffered from a lack of depth and a dearth of talent at key positions. All was relatively quiet until
could be felt emanating miles away in a nondescript building in Detroit. This rumbling was caused by the furious digging of one misguided newspaper’s attempt to generate headlines (and relevance) by “exposing” the deep-rooted NCAA violations going on in Schembechler Hall. RR was characterized as a criminal guilty of
for what amounted to a couple of extra hours of stretching and some tangential football personnel watching unofficial practices and weight sessions. Undaunted by reality, pundits and reporters across the various media streams let loose with a flood of chest-thumping and invectives about the “transgressions” going on under RR,
with false accusations and fears of the
being handed down by the NCAA. The Internet’s reaction was, perhaps unsurprisingly, split, with some treating these accusations as gospel while others accused the media of being actors in a conspiracy that would make the
investigations seem like child’s play.
But as we all remember, not much came of it. Despite the accusations and rabid media treatment, the truth ultimately came out, leaving everyone with the impression that the author of the “expose” was just a
, and soon the focus turned to RR
with Denard Robinson as the starting QB. Perhaps not surprisingly, the message boards and radio stations were a veritable
of individuals questioning the wisdom in this move. But on a
day in the beginning of September, Robinson and the rest of the Wolverines cast aside the tumultuous
and blasted Connecticut. Next came Notre Dame and another epic performance by Robinson, as the sporting world began to wonder if he was UM’s
And as the team raced out to a 5-0 start despite games that would leave no fans
there was a sense that this season would not be the like the two previous, that UM was back as a national power.
Unfortunately, the last two games have tempered these expectations, as it became clear that this team, gutted by injuries, transfers, and other player departures, was lacking in
especially on the defensive side of the ball. The pundits and opposing fans, so quiet during the 5-0 start, are back out in full force, questioning whether RR will ever be able to win at UM. From their high horses,
apparently so clear that even the smell of hypocrisy cannot reach them, they have already begun the countdown to RR’s demise, even with nearly 1/2 a season to still be played.
for this team is probably somewhere between the 5-0 start and the 2-game losing streak.
this season is already a success. With youth dominating both sides of the ball, UM still features one of the most dynamic offenses in the country and a defense that, well, only sometimes drives me to nearly jump into a
Every Saturday so far
is filled with an optimism, a sense of possibility that was missing the past two years. It is the air UM fans used to take for granted, and even though this season probably won’t ever by confused with some of the
seasons of years past, it is hard not to see a bright future for this team no matter how much of a UM-hating
you may be.
This Week’s Games
It was a weekend of upsets,highlighted by the third #1 team in a row to fall to a ranked opponent. This time, the Oklahoma Sooners were knocked off by one of the
in the Big 12, Missouri. With yet another #1 falling, it begs the question how the BCS will shake out at the end of the year, especially with non-AQ teams like Boise St. and TCU
beneath an invisible glass ceiling by the BCS computers and pollsters [Ed-M: Not to mention a schedule that's not...how shall we say...
* Coming off a 3-game win streak and winds in South Bend once again filled with a
of a Return to Glory, spirits were high at Notre Dame as they welcomed the Midshipmen of Navy. 367 yards on the ground and a thoroughly dominating 35-17 win by Navy a couple of hours later, the college football world was reminded that anyone trumpeting the reemergence of the Domers as a national power was simply
* Other major upsets this weekend included
at two former stops for Greg “touch of GERG” Robinson as Iowa State besting Texas for the first time (!!) in team history, while a Scott Schafer-led Syracuse defense (!!!) held West Virginia to 14 points in a stunning 19-14 win. As with politics, I will leave the
discussion about the team’s defensive performance to others.
* In other games of note, both Iowa and LSU suffered from
at the coaching position, as questionable coaching decisions by the Mad Hatter and Kirk Ferentz late in their games may have cost them wins against Wisconsin and Auburn, respectively. Senator Tressel went
against Purdue after last week’s demoralizing loss to the Badgers, drubbing the Boilermakers 49-0. The only disappointment was that the Vest didn’t break out this routine on the sidelines late in the game. Hey, hey! What's this I see? I thought this was a party. LET'S DANCE!
Mark Dantonio and Michigan State continued their unlikely run toward a Big 10 title and MNC berth (!!!!) as they rallied late against Northwestern, who blew the upset even though the Spartans once down 17 points. With only Iowa likely standing between MSU and a perfect season, I will now fill my body with
lest I be subjected to even more Sparty gloating.
* To no one’s surprise, the first game in which the Minnesota Golden Gophers were
after the dismissal of Tim Brewster ended rather badly, with Penn State earning its first Big 10 win rather handily despite being outgained by 80 yards. Perhaps a eccentric former Texas Tech coach will be walking the sidelines next year, though in that case I would like to see a name change to the Golden
Action since last rankings:
10-17-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Trayion Durham.
10-18-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Ray Ball.
10-20-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from AJ Jordan.
10-22-10 Illinois gains commitment from Ralph Cooper.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 19 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
New procedural note: ESPN has not ranked JuCo players in past classes, so it would be unfair for me to continue including Stafford as a 45 in the Huskers' ESPN average. The Huskers' ESPN average in the table above includes only the other 12 guys.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 12 Commits|
No change for Michigan.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Wisconsin - 16 Commits|
Badgers pick up a trio from Ohio, bumping them up.
|#10 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
Will Minnesota start hemorrhaging commits with Brewster being fired?
|#11 Illinois - 17 Commits|
The Illini gain commitment from Ralph Cooper. ESPN loves him, but the other sites... don't. The sites are still in disagreement over whether WR Hayden Daniels is committed. Scout has removed him from the Illinois commit list, so I won't add him yet. Justin DuVernois gets 2 stars from Scout.
|#12 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.