One of my favorite traditions and I can never remember if it is on Tuesday or Wednesday night since The Game moved until after Thanksgiving.
For those that are wondering what the hell I'm referencing, it's not about walking on Hoke's figurative grave, but it is about the real graves of the greats of Michigan past. Every year Superfan leads a group of people through Forest Hill Cemetery to visit the gravesites of Bo, Yost, and Ufer. Singing of The Victors, recordings of Bo or Ufer, and the ceremonial cracking of buckeyes have all been done in the past.
If you have never been, and this is still occurring, I recommend the experience.
Anyone know if Superfan is leading the walk again this year?
Keeping in mind that I tend to skew optimistic when it comes to all of my favorite sports teams, I believe the Michigan Football team can be quickly turned around, assuming an effective coaching staff can be secured.
Looking first at the offense...
The team will return nine or ten (depending on what Funchess does) of its offensive starters. A quick review of the current depth chart also reveals that there is only one senior back-up (Joey B). So, we are returning 19 or 20 of the 22 players on the two-deep. Plus we get Ty Isaac on the field.
Has this team underperformed offensively? Yes. But, has there been improvement in certain areas (i.e., the line and the rushing game)? Yes. The reality is that next year's two-deep is going to be stocked with juniors and seniors who were 4* and 5* players coming out of high school. It is difficult to believe that these players, who were highly coveted by other top programs, are all busts.
With the right coaching and scheme, the offense should be able to put points on the board. QB is a major question mark, of course...
Turning to the defensive side of the line, the story is similar.
The team loses three starters...Beyer, Ryan and Taylor. Plus Hollowell off of the two-deep. So, including a fifth DB as part of the depth chart, the team loses four of 24 players on the entire two-deep. And we get Peppers and Morgan back from injury.
In summary, the team loses the following starters, with the replacements indicated...
Gardner (?), Beyer (Poggi or Charlton), Ryan (Morgan or Ross or McCray) and Taylor (Peppers or Stribling or Countess).
Other than Gardner, there are easily identifiable replacements for each of the four.
The entire 46-player two-deep will be packed with 4* and 5* players going in to their 3rd, 4th and 5th years. It is true that stars don't always translate in to success. But it just seems impossible that this staff missed the mark on so many players. With the dozens of highly ranked players who will be on the roster next year, there has to be 35 of them who can excel on gameday. There is talent there. It has to be an issue of coaching.
Plus, there will not have to be the type of roster rebuild that was necessary in 2011 and 2012.
With the right coaching, schemes, and motivation,I believe this can be a very successful (10-2 or so) team in the first year of the new regime.
Yes, to take my mind off of the results on the field, I'm resorting to posting about interesting side technicalities (at least to me). I'm not trying to imply that we might have won, because I can't muster any emotion for that. (It's weird watching Michigan with curiosity but without emotion.)
After Maryland's Wes Brown was tackled for a 1 yard gain on 3rd-and-3 with 41 seconds left, the official in charge of starting the playclock did not immediately do so and thus the game was over (Michigan had no timeouts).
As the countdown ensued, Maryland Coach Randy threw his headset 30 feet in the air.
Now if a player had done that with his helmet, a personal foul would have been called, a 15 yard penalty would be assessed, and the clock stopped at ~30 seconds for a 4th-and-17 at the Michigan 35.
Why does the rule not apply to the coach? Should it? In fact, Randy Edsall was standing on the field when he did it.
Today's Harbaugh news: Watching his press conference after the win over the Redskins, I was delighted at the following quote (about 2 minutes in):
"That's not what this team is about. This team is about each other, about the team, the team, the team. They're not into criticizing each other, they're not into bad-mouthing each other, talking about each other. They're into lifting each other up."
Jim's still thinking about Bo, even in his daily work in SF.
Obligatory link to Bo's "The team speech" here.
I know in some ways this is not news - Harbaugh has always been a Bo disciple, but it was intriguing to hear Bo's words so fresh on his mind still after all of these years.