i like 'em both
2012 sugar bowl
When it came time to interview players at yesterday's media day, it wasn't hard to pick out which players would draw the biggest crowds. Denard Robinson, of course, was the center of attention. Thomas Rawls, thrust into the spotlight due to Fitzgerald Toussaint's legal troubles, fielded questions about stepping into the starter's role. Devin Gardner talked about taking snaps at wide receiver. Lewan and Campbell and Kovacs never had to look far for a reporter. Pick a paper and you won't have to look far to see their stories.
Instead of jumping into the fray around Denard or Rawls or Gardner, I thought my time would be better spent getting quotes you won't see anywhere else. So, I tracked down long snapper Jareth Glanda and fullback Stephen Hopkins for some one-on-one interviews, and the results are below:
How did you get into snapping? Was it something you did to get a spot on a college team or did you just pick it up?
When I played offensive line in youth ball, one of our line coaches ... it was just something that he taught me and I did through youth ball, I did through high school, and eventually with the help of Coach Fracassa at Brother Rice I was able to get a walk-on position here. It was something I learned early and I was able to earn a spot at a major school doing it.
When did you realize that you'd be able to make it onto Michigan's team through snapping? Was that something you realized when you started?
Absolutely not. It was something that I learned and I did because I was lucky my coach taught me what to do. I tried to teach myself different things as I progressed, but it was never something I'd think I would be doing at a school like Michigan. It was just one of those skills that I had that I could do; I played offense, and then I was able to do that too. It was something I was able to do.
Going to Brother Rice, did you grow up a Michigan fan?
I grew up a Michigan fan. I played hockey too, so I was a Michigan football fan and a Michigan hockey fan. A guy from my hometown of Rochester Hills, Peter Vanderkaay, we watched him in the Olympics. So yeah, I grew up being a Michigan fan.
Obviously, Tom [Pomarico] was also playing last year, and he's gone. You're taking on a little more responsibility. How have you handled that so far?
I was able to take on the field goal and PAT position last year. Through spring ball I've been working harder on the traditional punt; I have to block after I snap, which is something I was struggling with but I made some improvements in spring ball. Curt Graman is the same year as me, it's his fourth year too, we've been competing during fall camp and during spring ball with the punts and he's been pushing the competition with the field goal snaps, too. It's always good to get competition in practice and during those live reps it's important, too.
You mentioned blocking as something that was a little different in the long snap versus the short snap. What other technical differences do you run into between punts and field goals?
On a punt we snap it 14 yards, a field goal is seven. You have a smaller area that you want to put the ball when you snap PATs and field goals. The velocity of the ball might be a little slower so the holder can control it; with the laces on the PATs it always helps the kickers to be out. Punters like it in the hip or in the chest area. Punts, I'm not looking at the punter, I'm looking forward. PATs I'm always looking at the spot I want to snap. It's different, but it's the same. They both have their difficulties and similarities.
Do you have a greater comfort level with the short snapping because that's what you were doing last year?
I got a lot more reps, obviously, with the PATs and field goals. I've been working with Drew Dileo, he's the holder, and Brendan Gibbons, especially on those left-footed kicks—the left-footed kicks are different from the right-footed kicks with the holder's position. I'm definitely getting more reps; you always feel more comfortable with the more practice you get. I've been trying to get a lot more punt reps in practice on the sidelines with Curt and the rest of the punters. I feel like I've improved on that as well.
Can you take me through a typical practice day for you? You guys are kinda off to the side doing your own thing, right?
Yeah. Most of the time we work with each other. We coach each other; I've learned a little bit about kicking, I can help some of the kickers and punters. Seth Broekhuizen has helped me with different aspects of punt snapping and blocking and PAT snapping. At the beginning of practice we'll have a specialist period. Outside, we snap punts, we get that on film, PATs and field goals from different spots, about five or ten minutes, that's pre-practice. During practice, it depends on the day, if we're working on punts, if we're working on half-line or full-line punts; field goal period is towards the end of practice, maybe we get some live reps with different rushes depending on who we're playing that particular week. All the other time is spent on the sidelines or in Oosterbaan trying to get our own work and trying to get as many reps as we can so we can improve.
With kickers you always hear about guys having their own routine before they go on, they're getting in the zone or whatever. Is it the same for a snapper where you've got to get that kind of singular focus before you go out there?
Yeah, you definitely can't be—whether it's a big game or not, you can't get all hyped up, you've got to stay focused. I know during games I'm down on the sideline, kind of where the O-line sits; that's where Gibbons is, that's where the kicking net is for them to warm up. You try to stay focused, you try to get some reps on the sidelines. It's not always easy to get some warmup snaps for field goals because Dileo is usually playing some offense, but you stay focused and try to stay in the game and stay ready.
Can you take me through the play against Virginia Tech last year? Obviously, that didn't go as planned. Do you guys practice when something goes wrong, do you practice the scramble afterwards?
Yeah, if there's a bad snap or a bad you, you have guys in a route and different fire calls and backup plays like that. Then you have called fakes depending on what that PAT or field goal block team is doing in a particular week, you try to scheme some different stuff. On that play, we had a fake going and it didn't go as we planned. Drew just tried to throw the ball up and I was lucky enough to make the catch on that one.
Can you tell me your thought process on that play? It looked like you had to throw a block in there and the ball just kinda ended up...
Yeah, I knew Drew was rolling out to the right, and I tried to block some guys who were flowing that way. Then I saw the ball come over my head. It went off the guy's helmet and right into my hands, right into my hands. It was crazy how that happened.
Were you worried at all, being an ineligible receiver, about touching the ball illegally?
That was my first thought. If you ask Will Campbell, [I asked], "Was that okay? Was I supposed to make that catch?" It was off the helmet, so... I was worried about being downfield and all that, but it worked out for our team.
With the punters, you've got Matt [Wile] pushing Will [Hagerup] a little bit for the starting job. What do you see out of those two guys?
All the guys are competing. Matt Wile, Will Hagerup, we've got a new guy, Kenny [Allen], Kenny's in here, and they're all working each other and they all push each other. When a guy sees another guy doing well, they grab me and they want to get more snaps out during practice. The competition is great, during spring ball and during fall camp watching film upstairs, seeing what each other is doing. When the games start, it'll be the best for us.
Long snapper is a position where you're usually flying a little bit under the radar, if you're hearing your name it's usually because something went wrong. You got a little bit of attention last year after the Sugar Bowl. Was that a bit of an adjustment to all of a sudden be in the limelight and get that attention?
Yeah, it was a little strange. I had a feeling that I would have to answer some questions. But I'm back to doing what I do, flying under the radar again. It's a new season and that was a long time ago, so I've got to focus on improving on the punt snaps and keep working the field goal snaps so we can win the Big Ten championship this year.
You made the move to fullback last year and that obviously was a transition. Now that you've been there do you have a much greater comfort level with the position?
I'm getting there. Since I didn't have any reps [at fullback] other than in-season reps, definitely there's a lot of things I'm learning, little things I'm learning to get better at the position so I can play like a Michigan fullback this year.
What was the greatest adjustment for you going from halfback to fullback?
When you're a running back, you don't really shy away from contact, but at the same time you're not trying to get tackled. At fullback, you're looking for the contact; you've got to be the initiator, you've got to be the devastator. That's a big change, but I think I've adjusted pretty well.
Do you enjoy the physical aspect of it now?
I do, I do. At first it was taking some time to get used to, and now I actually really enjoy it, beating my man on a block and driving him back and doing those things I'm supposed to do.
Coach Jackson mentioned you possibly taking snaps at both halfback and fullback this year. Have you been doing work at both?
I probably always will work at both. Running back is my preferred position and I'll always be able to play that a little bit; that'll probably never change.
With Fitz's availability in question right now, do you feel ready if called upon to step up and take more carries?
Yeah. I'm a fullback, I play fullback, but at the same time I'm still a running back. I'll be ready if my number is called.
Coach Jackson mentioned B.J. Askew as a guy that you remind him of as a running back who made that transition. Is that a guy that you maybe look to, and have you talked to any former players about the switch?
I really haven't. I thought about during this camp trying to reach out and see what they'd have to say, some advice for someone in the same position, so I'm probably looking to do that. But I've seen some film on [Askew], he's obviously a really good player, he played in the league for a long time.
Askew was very good catching balls out of the backfield. Is that something that you've been working on?
Yeah, this summer I've been working on my hands, and in this spring I felt like I'll get more chances to show that part of my game. I'll be ready to do that as well.
Fumbling was a little bit of an issue. What have you done to work on holding onto the ball better?
It's crazy because I was never someone who ever fumbled before I got to college, ever. Then it happens once, and sometimes it gets in your mind or whatever, but you've got to let it go and relax and do fundamentally what you've been taught—that's what I'm working on. So far, so good.
Is that something—you know, it's one or two fumbles and you might get that reputation, where maybe it doesn't reflect your actual ability...
...is that something that's mentally tough to get over?
Yeah, definitely, because I've never really been accused of that. I was always someone you could trust to always keep the ball secure. It didn't really affect me too much, I just had to go and show that it wasn't me.
In your position group, there's a lot of different types of running backs, with Fitz and Rawls and Hayes and Norfleet and Smith. Do you like the collection that you guys have in terms of their versatility?
Yeah, we have a really talented group of running backs. Whoever's number gets called on September 1st is going to be ready.
It seems like that may very well be Thomas Rawls. What do you see out of him?
He's learning still, he's young, but he's also really talented—very physical, runs really hard, runs angry. I like what I see out of him as well.
Alabama is a tough first test. Does that add a little bit of an extra edge when you're getting ready for the first game?
Absolutely. Respect to all of our opponents, even Western Michigan last year, but this is the defending national champions, so every time you get on the field you know you've got to get better because you know they're getting better.
You get to go back home for this one [Hopkins hails from Flower Mound, Texas]. How big of an effect does that have on your excitement for this game?
I mean, the game itself is huge enough, but to make things better for me I get to play in front of my hometown, basically. It's going to be a great experience and a great opportunity as well.
Have you been to Cowboys Stadium or will this be a first for you?
Actually, my senior year, for playoff games we played there twice, so I've seen it and played in it twice.
Have teammates been asking you about what it's like to play there?
Yeah, they have. Besides the Big House, there's probably no other place I'd rather play.
To watch tonight. If you're starving for something in maize and blue to root on—and you probably are—softball's super regional matchup against Alabama will be on the TV. Game one is tonight(!) on ESPN2 at 8. Games two and three (if necessary) are Friday, with game two at 4:30 on ESPNU and hypothetical game 3 on ESPN2 at 7.
The full Jackie Chiles. I've accused a couple of lawyers who have entered our lives of being Seinfeld Cochran-parody Jackie Chiles, but Jalen Rose just won the title for all time:
"I think it was unnecessary. Flagrant. Defiant."
Rose goes on to say "it"—Mary Sue Coleman saying they won't be putting the banners up again for games that still never happened—is…
"…honest, and I respect that. If they choose not to embrace the Fab Five era, if they choose not to embrace us individually or as a team or the things we brought to the table, I really have no bitterness. I'm not mad at it.
"What's going to happen, though? … When you turn your back directly or indirectly on something that was so good to you, you're never going to get the true foundation of a program to build upon."
"I'm not bitter" is kind of like "I'm not racist, but…" in that it's only said when you're about to be bitter or racist. I can get Rose's frustration and appreciate that he cares enough about his time at Michigan that it bothers him, but the games are vacated. It's over, man.
Well, here they are. Everyone loves them some Phil Steele but whenever he releases these All Conference teams I look at the Big Ten and get suspicious about how closely he's paying attention. This year's edition:
Just amongst Michigan players, the inclusion of Omameh over Schofield, the total omission of Jake Ryan despite 16 linebackers featuring, and Roy Roundtree featuring on the first team raise eyebrows. Also there's no Countess, Kenny Demens is not better than Michael Mauti, and the next time Will Gholston beats a block it will be his… well, his second time. He did it in MSU's bowl game.
The text is really tiny and weird, though. This is Steele's secret weapon.
Hail Mallory. Is JT Floyd too high as well? Yeah, probably. But it's not ridiculous to have him on there. Gibson minus all of the points.
Imaginary depth chart revamp. Based on some things I'd heard I assumed that in the event Michigan needed to fish for a second replacement tackle it would be Ben Braden despite his relative lack of recruiting hype. This tea leaf from Borges suggests otherwise:
Offensive coordinator Al Borges said last week freshmen could compete at any spot this fall, but named Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson as leaders to see the field because of the Wolverines' woefully thin offensive line depth.
“Kalis is a good player and he’s going to get a chance, just like Erik Magnuson,” he said.
Meinke goes on to state that Kalis is expected to compete for the left guard job but may move to tackle in the future, which is inverted from my assumption. That assumption: left guard will be okay, but the horrifying lack of depth at tackle means this college-ready five star needs to be prepped there in case someone gets hurt playing football.
All of this will be torn up and revamped when fall camp hits. Finding out who the #3 tackle is and if the freshmen receiver can play immediately will be priorities.
On fire. With three goals in three games, Justin Meram is officially on fire in MLS JAM. The latest is at about 1:20 here:
That cross came from a man named "Dilly Duka."
Side note: parallels between Meram and Zach Putnam exist. Both brought about a renaissance in a non-revenue sport with potential and a pro league to continue to, both programs collapsed after they left, the absence of both saw their longtime program stewards terminated after about a decade in charge. Whenever I see either I think of some fun times that I thought were sustainable but ended up not being so.
He's on top of it! OSU reported 46 secondary violations a few days back. These were more comedy than crime. Adding to the comedy is Gene Smith as Towlie:
Smith told The Lantern Tuesday the athletic department has 12 pending NCAA violations, and he doesn’t know if they will be deemed primary or secondary violations.
“We’ve got 12 pending,” Smith said. “It may turn out to be secondary. It may not.”
OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in a Wednesday email to The Lantern, that there were actually less than 12 pending violations. Wallenberg did confirm that the additional violations are being “processed,” although he did not “know the status of each situation” in regards to whether it was being processed by the university or the NCAA.
I have no idea what's going on, you guys.
Chances anything serious comes out of this asymptotically approach zero until Charles Robinson arrives on the scene in a superhero costume, but it's good to get further confirmation that the man in charge of Ohio State athletics is maybe not so good at his job. [UPDATE: Smith clarifies that Charles Robinson is not on campus.]
Support the troops. Dave Brandon's opposed to having anything in the Midwest ever, and if you aren't you are pissing on our student-athletes:
"The one thing that kind of gets left out of this discussion that maybe ought to get some weight are the kids," he said Friday during WTKA's Mott Takeover. "Now, I know a lot of people don't really care about that part, but I do, and if you polled our players and said, 'If you played a really tough, successful, long regular season, the award you're going to get is to travel to Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium,' they would look at you and say, 'Huh?'
"They love going to warm weather. They love going to some of these locations they, in some cases, have never visited."
…TO PLAY FOR A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON SOMETHING APPROXIMATING A HOME FIELD AAAAARGH. I shouldn't even bother repeating the things. They are just infuriating. Next week there will be a sudden reversal and Brandon will talk about how he doesn't consider on-campus sites to be on campus. It's not really a home field advantage, you see, because something something something pasta in a bread bowl.
We made money! Besides, Michigan made bank on the Sugar Bowl:
While the Big Ten conference received $6.1 million for an at-large BCS team and gave Michigan $2.05 million for travel and other expenses for its participation in the game, that was not Michigan's profit on the game.
After expenses were taken out and the Big Ten absorbed the cost of the university's unsold tickets, Michigan brought in $78,916 in profit from its trip to New Orleans, according to records received by WolverineNation as part of a Freedom of Information request.
It's not quite as bad as that. Michigan still has a couple million coming from the league. It seems like the travel and expenses budget is designed to approximately break even. The Big Ten ate about 400k in unsold tickets from the Sugar.
Etc.: ESPN's putting together a "hate week" that seems incompatible with their corporate goals, but if you're writing about Fielding Yost's irrational hatred for something I'll read it.
Derrick Walton still tearing up AAU. Michigan Hockey Net interviews Michael Downing. Troy Woolfolk on stuff. Glick fluff from Michigan Today. I kind of wish it wasn't smack dab in the middle of State Street, since that forced soccer to relocate off campus.
The BCS is now talking about a four team playoff and even Jim Delany is in. This is sort of about declining attendance (but not really), sort of about declining viewership (indirectly) and 1000% about this graph from a Neilsen "State of the Media" report on sports.
And then football:
Both the big basketball increase and big football decrease can be explained by external events. CBS finally realized it was the 18th century and split first-round games across four channels instead of forcing you to watch Local State U beat up on a 15 seed when Kansas (always Kansas) is suffering an incredible upset across the country. The BCS moved off broadcast to cable. But when paired with declining interest, the cavern between postseason formats screams "grit your teeth and do something literally everyone else wants."
BONUS: Nielsen lists the five most-watched games of the year:
1 vs 2 games, the Rose Bowl, the 3 vs 4 Fiesta, and random Michigan games not featuring awesome teams.
[HT: a message board!]
WHERE THAT CAME FROM. We have a theory.
Y WE NO RUN STRAIGHT AT HEAD. Also bubble bitchin'.
RVB AND MARTIN. Statue-worthy.
WHY PLAYING LIKE IT'S 1950 WAS COOL. It was 1950.
NEXT YEAR. Offensive line chatter, Stonum issues, where do the DL come from?
SONGS. "Blue Orchid" by the White Stripes, "Bust a Move" by Young MC,--I had a reason--"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" by Wilco,--dedicated to Danny Coale--and "Vincent O'Brien" by M. Ward.
The usual links:
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
We are planning a Signing Day podcast, which will be the next one, and we'll probably talk basketball with John Gasaway at some point.
(Quick note: offseason OT rules now in effect)
In the MGoBlog Diaries section the Wolverine fan base is represented by two equally important groups: the stat-heads who investigate college football, and the fan-boys who celebrate their achievements. These are their stories.
And we're back. It's been a few weeks since a DD column. I used my MGoVacation to watch L&O marathons and a few bowl games with funny names while the denizens focused on more important things, which are Michigan football things.
Fortunately these had a happy year. AC1997 tried to contextualize this 11-2, BCS bowl-winning season of ours (feel free to repeat that sentence a few times before moving on). The thing has a chart, and a bolded alter ego to introduce it. He also created something called a "VASAV" score which sounds like a cool sabermetric acronym but is really just named after the user who suggested a super-simple scoring system for BCS/Rose Bowl seasons by fan satisfaction. 1997 was a 4.0; this was a 1.5.
Da-dum, duh duh duh duh dunnnnnnnn…[electric piano, clarinet, clarinet, bass guitar]
Man Lennie, you are dark sometimes. So Michigan murdered this season, but considering where this program was just 12 months ago, how did such a thing happen? Well we can check the box scores by ST3 – it looks like he's got an entire season in there, right? Or it could be just a bunch of Iron Maiden songs.
Fortunately WolverineBlue has been down in the lab, conducting an autopsy of the Toussaint touchdown that wasn't against Ohio State. Like every other L&O autopsy report, it is unbelievably thorough and straightforward, presenting such a wealth of information if this wasn't for television that would be 90% of the case solved right there. As it is, this forensic analysis proves Fitz should have been ruled
in Edit: down 1/2 in short. Virginia Tech fans with screen capture got nothin' on this Diarist of the Weeks (plural):
The other Diarist of the Weeks is JeepinBen who looked into the personnel on hand and being recruited for Mattison's defense and in a sudden twist of realization, saw that if you look at it like a 3-4 defense instead of a 4-3, just one big guy named Ondre plus lots of linebackers and ends all make sense!
A couple of diaries meant as previews to the Sugar are still relevant to our investigation here. The one by cps2010 is excellent for advanced readers looking to understand the weird-ass, corner-dependent defense that V-Tech runs. Steve Sharik once spent over an hour and a half trying to explain this very defense to me before saying "Michigan will never run it," but you never know when you'll be in a situation where you'll have to quickly execute a base Cover 4 robber. If you plan to re-watch the Sugar Bowl, I highly recommend you read this, then watch Hosley and appreciate how good he is. Also still useful is the extensive head-to-head-ing by CollegeFootball13 between M's season and VT's. And monuMental made a beautiful background:
If you want more evidence, Boyz n da Pahokee flipped the video over to us. Before some a-hole lawyer from you-know-where calls it inadmissible, get your Sugar Bowl Replay, Sugar VOAV, Sugar Preview, 2011 Offensive Highlights, and 2011 Defensive Highlights. So much good stuff in there, from the Herron TDs, to "GUN-der the lights" while wearing a DL, a Roundtree and a WHAAT?, and Robinson eating all that soup, and Jibreel finally corralling Braxton Miller on 3rd and goal.
After the jump, the real McCoy takes it to trial, and the board celebrates FESTIVUS!
[Captions located below images]
The French Quarter was flooded with Michigan and Virginia Tech fans for most of game day. I walked down Bourbon Street to take some photos of the fanfare.
"Sugar Bowl Headquarters" on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. If true, would explain a lot.
These street musicians didn’t play jazz, but bluegrass is basically the blues. Right? No? The guy in the middle hails from Grand Rapids.
Michigan fans enjoying the view. Pretty sure that woman is/was a dude.
And for something completely familiar, Michigan sorority girls on their way to …
Rick’s (American) Cabaret.
(more after the jump)