"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
And fin. Wolverine Historian's expanded versions of 1997 games have hit that year's Rose Bowl; this one is a three-parter and it's gooooood:
Odds. I've seen the line for Michigan's game against Western at anywhere between 8 and 13 points, but it appears it's settled at Michigan –12. This is good. Phil Steele's published a useful list of spreads and their correspondence to victory and a spread as big as that one is tough to overcome:
|Favorite of||# of GMS||Lost Outright||%|
|3 or less||1269||621||48.9%|
It would be nice to start the year off with one of those win things for a change.
Don't Messner with Texas. MVictors has posted an interview with Wolverine great Mark Messner; I celebrate by craft the worst bolded introductory phrase in the history of Unverified Voracity. The section Greg excerpts is mostly on Michigan State, Tony Mandarich, and steroids. It comes with some outstanding stories:
He did get me once and that’s when I realized that there was something strange going on with this man, because no man should ever do that. It was my junior year. We were watching film getting ready for Michigan State and I was like, “Look at this thing! He’s destroying people.” In that game I got out of position and he got underneath me. He picked me up off my feet and ran with me for fifteen yards with my feet just dangling. He threw me like a rag doll into the Michigan State bench.
More at the link.
Was anybody healthy? Anybody? This offseason's seen a bevy of injury revelations from Mike Shaw's sports hernia to Donovan Warren's bone chips to Jonas Mouton's shoulder. We already knew Brandon Minor had some wrist issues, but I don't think we knew they were this severe:
Minor underwent two surgeries in the offseason and gutted through 11 games last fall a virtual one-armed man. The pain was so intense he couldn't carry the ball in his right arm and couldn't lift weights.
“I could barely get 145 (pounds) up,” Minor said.
This might explain Minor's sparing use early in the year, and his tendency to put the ball on the turf. Place your bets for the next starter to reveal a crippling 2008 injury. I've got Obi Ezeh with the peg leg in the kitchen.
Hey, what's that: bird, plane, basketball program? Michigan's going to have a Midnight Madness event for the first time… ever? Probably ever. John Beilein probably isn't going rappel from the rafters riding a horse and a motorcycle, but it should be cool anyway. Details:
To kick off the 2009-10 season, both the men's and women's basketball teams will be participating in Michigan Madness on Friday, Oct. 16, the first day of practice allowed by the NCAA. Crisler Arena doors will open at 8 p.m. and admission is free.
The official basketball program will begin at 9 p.m. with player introductions. A skills competition and scrimmages will follow, allowing students and fans to get a first glimpse of the season's upcoming teams.
That's right: Michigan's midnight madness is at 9PM. Which okay. I don't know if we're at the point where we can expect anyone to show up well past their bedtime.
If you spin any faster you might drill straight into the magma. It's getting tough out there for BCS schools looking for suitable tomato cans to whack, as Michigan's home-and-home with UConn demonstrates. Heck, UConn has Tennessee lined up for a home and home, too. Further evidence:
Billed as the Celebrate the State Football Series, Michigan State will play 12 games against the directional Michigan schools during the next 10 years.
The agreement includes road contests against each MAC team, beginning in 2012 with a trip to Central Michigan. The Spartans have never visited Central Michigan or Western Michigan and last played a MAC team on the road in 1899.
Ouch. I guess if you have to line up road games (three of them!) against MAC schools it's nice to be able to turn it into yet more meaningless PR about owning the state. I mean… even if you successfully own the state, then what? Then you have a team that goes 7-5 on average instead of Michigan State's historical long-term 6-6. Woo! Michigan isn't Florida.
Etc.: Those who hate key jinglers are going to double hate towels. Michigan Stadium makes the next cut in the USA's World Cup bid. (Note to guy who posted this on the messageboard: AAAARGH it's on topic. It's about Michigan Stadium.) And this is apropos of little but there's a team named "Trollhattan" in the second level of Swedish soccer. There's a terribly funny joke about the internet in there somewhere.
Lines. Here are a bunch of Vegas lines, all of which are unfriendly to Michigan:
- vs Notre Dame –2.5
- @ Michigan State –4
- vs Penn State –5
- @ Illinois –7
- vs Ohio State –6
Notre Dame is a touchdown favorite over Michigan State despite State's recent ownage in South Bend. This has given Jamie happy pants.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
A tempo-free start. Texas blog Barking Carnival has put together a listing of teams by "pace," which is a concept unfamiliar in football but should be known to all who have heard me rail on about how Ken Pomeroy is an American hero. It's basically the number of possessions in a game. Adjusting for that can radically change perceptions of who is best and by how much:
As we move forward, one important thing to keep an eye on is that according to the standard per game stats, which are of course all that most “analysts” are able to wrap their heads around, Oklahoma’s offense was just over 37% more effective in Big 12 games than our offense was. It’s hard to argue that they were better according to raw numbers, but 37%? Sounds crazy. …
Here we can see that Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.
Oklahoma's offense wasn't that much more efficient, it just moved at warp speed.
Notes on the national list:
- Unsurprisingly, spread teams Oklahoma, Oregon, Houston, Troy, and Rice played the most possession-intensive games of anyone last year. Most of the top 20 are pass-oriented spread teams.
- Gus Mahlzahn and his Ludicrous Speed offense was tenth.
- Michigan was middle of the pack at 47; West Virginia was 69th.
- Interesting teams towards the bottom: Virginia Tech (118), Ohio State (117), Georgia (111), Iowa (108), Alabama(107), and Florida (106). There does not appear to be much correlation between pace and excellence.
It's a good start, but there are a lot of limitations to the study. KenPom adjusts his official pace measures by the pace of your opponents. That corrects for situations like playing Northwestern's basketball team a lot. This study doesn't have it. Also, there's no shot clock in football* and game situations dictate hurrying up or slowing down depending on who's in the lead, so one reason you might find a bunch of good teams at the bottom is their ability to get in front and then boa constrictor the life out of a game.
I'm working on getting a comprehensive play database from Bill Connolly of Football Outsiders, and when I get that my first priority is to put together offensive and defensive rankings by drive efficiency instead of raw yardage.
*(There is a play clock but here we're looking one level higher.)
Sad Pandas. It's been a bad week for the Feagin clan. Justin, of course, got the boot from Michigan for reasons unspecified. His uncle is in much, much deeper trouble:
Meanwhile, Steven Feagin, who played at another Big Ten school, the University of Illinois, stands accused of breaking into a woman's home in Pompano Beach, knocking her out with a chemical, then raping her twice.
By no means do I want to imply that Justin's thing was anything similar, or try to draw some link between the two. It's just… it's just a bad week for Feagins, is all. Poor mom.
(HT: Big House Blog.)
Come on down. Er, up. Memphis SF Casey Prather, one of two plan A wings Michigan is pursuing fervently, should be taking an official visit this fall. Rivals' Jerry Meyer:
Michigan is very much in the running for Prather, who recently had a strong showing in the adidas Super 64 event. There is talk that Prather might visit Michigan the second week in September for the Notre Dame football game, but those plans have not been finalized yet. Regardless, Michigan is expected to get a visit from Prather. … Prather is intrigued by the opportunity for immediate playing time at Michigan.
Securing Prather would go a long way towards crushing this blog's previous skepticism about Beilein's ability to recruit at a Big Ten championship level. Also: the Trey Zeigler rumblings have shifted towards Central Michigan, where his dad coaches. Rumblings subject to change, as per usual.
Etc.: AnnArbor.com is actually linking out. The homepage needs the equivalent of radioactivity something fierce, though. Yost and Crisler lookin' swanky. Texas Monthly explains the Longhorn money machine.