I, for one, welcome our Nike overlords. After two straight years of using The Game to prove even Ohio State can look more ridiculous, Nike will strike again this fall, outfitting Michigan State in their Pro Combat line of jerseys for the October 15th tilt against the Wolverines. (Yeah yeah, those in glass houses and whatnot).
In fairness, going to Pro Combat might be an improvement from the OMG MODERN FONT look straight out of Any Given Sunday that Michigan State switched to last year:
...as opposed to going away from the classic look of Ohio State's traditional jerseys (/immediately feels dirty, showers).
We live in an age where the apparel companies are going to do what they do in search of the almighty dollar. Methinks it's best to just to just accept it and move along. It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm not nearly as "get off my lawn" about Michigan's night game jerseys as is Brian. We'll see if Adidas plans to make frequent use of cash-grab alternates, like Nike is doing.
[Ed-M: As Michigan fans, however many headaches we've had to suffer thanks to Adidas's neon-ish idea of "maize" is made worth it when we see our rivals come to school looking like their colorblind mothers got lost in the kids section at Target.
For those wondering why they don't just go with the classic 1960s thing, MSU's official site rules out the obvious Duffy-era look because they rocked that for ND in 2006 -- not that anyone noticed. You can't really do too much damage with MSU since they've had 9 significant uniform changes since 1993, but they already have a home alternate, so either they're scrapping that, or State will play just three games all year in their "home" jerseys. Oregon indeed.
Futzing with Ohio State's
classic helmet disco ball covered in bird poop for Michigan week is the kind of thing that can make the football gods remove their favors.]
Speaking of ill-advised Spartan doings. Justin Abdelkader jokes that he wishes to bomb Michigan Stadium:
This is INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF that all Spartans are terrorists. Look it up.
Barbecue snobs are certain to clarify this is merely a "cookout." As you've likely noticed, Wednesday Recruitin' has been a little calm over the past two weeks, after a whirlwind late spring/early summer parade of commitments to Ann Arbor. A slow period should transition immediately into another action-packed (though not necessarily commitment-packed) period coming up soon, with next weekend's "Barbecue at the Big House" recruiting event.
Much more about it in next week's Recruitin' post, but if you need your fix now, Tom has an ever-evolving list of visitors up in the Diary section. Those not already committed to Michigan are of the greatest interest to us because, you know, they could commit. All this and MUCH MORE next Wednesday (they call that a tease, kids).
Why would anyone want to leave that state? Also regarding the barbecue, Eleven Warriors calls Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel "Ann Arbor's new favorite couple," but it is not supposed to be a gay joke - except there's no other way for it to realistically be intended. They could be Purdue commits for all I care, but what century are we living in where "hurr hurr u r gay" is still an OK insult?
If you Google "Kyle Kalis ACL," the first infinity results are of Ohio State message boarders wishing injury on a 16-17 year-old kid. Kalis has gone into (mostly) radio silence since his commitment, for fear of backlash. Ohio State fans bashing him for "poor morals" because he decommitted from a school that's about to get hammered for lying to the NCAA? Irony reading: high.
I'm not trying to pick a fight with Eleven Warriors here, but come on dudes, hold yourselves to a higher standard - which, to be fair, they usually do.
Godzillatron will be ours. Updates on the scoreboards? Updates on the scoreboards. Pictures can be seen at Michigan Stadium Aerials (also with updated photos of the hoops Player Development Center), and if you're into the "paint drying" thing, you can watch the assembly live on the internet at MGoBlue.
OK, so it's not quite as impressive as the mega-boards at places like Texas and... Minnesota... but it's certainly an upgrade over the recent past.
The QB my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Tate Forcier was told "thanks but no thanks" by Hawaii, of all schools, because his transcript is really that bad. The official mgoblog position is "hope he gets his life in order," but uh, is anyone still second-guessing David Brandon's alleged refusal to schedule a meeting with QB5?:
"I needed a certain amount of credits. The incompletes, I took care of those. Dave Brandon still wouldn't let me stay. He refused to even meet with us."
If Hawaii isn't even going to meet with you, Dave Brandon proooooobably wasn't in the wrong here. It sounds like you have more than "a few incompletes" to take care of.
Etc. The Big Ten goes in the wrong direction by going from 3 to zero teams on its preseason media ballot. Men's lacrosse picks up a top offensive coordinator - and tons of solid 2012 commits - including a football teammate of Erik Magnuson. Big Ten schools gettin' that paper, yo. Rest in peace, Jimmy Maddock.
Left: Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Right: Death.
The Colonel Klink scandal unfolding at Ohio State is interesting from a hur-hur rival perspective, obviously, but I'm also fascinated by the responses across the blogosphere in the 23 hours between Yahoo posting their story and Ohio State's ham-handed press conference*.
This includes mine, essentially "I'm not sure if there's any paper but Yahoo is serious business." Eleven Warriors echoed:
it is highly unlikely that either Charles Robinson or Dan Wetzel would risk their reputations on a piece of investigative journalism that they didn't believe was accurate and authentic. Yahoo! Sports is a legitimate reporting organization, and whatever you think about either Wetzel or Robinson, no editor with a shred of sanity or professionalism would allow such a damning story to go live without at least something behind it. Some OSU fans have pointed out that the story cites only one anonymous source, which is fair criticism, and if that source continues to be unnamed and the only supplier of information to this story, then its credibility should be put in doubt. But keep in mind that Yahoo's track record with regard to investigative sports journalism is anything but shaky, and that it is probable that Wetzel and Robinson have not played every card in their hand.
Dr. Saturday was in the same boat:
Presumably – considering we're working on the word of respected reporters with a pretty good track record when it comes to NCAA scandal – that's a solid source, and presumably there are others leading the reporters to the same conclusion without saying as much outright. Presumably, too, there's more evidence (circumstantial or otherwise) on the way.
EDSBS went farther, into open hostility to anyone who would point at the single anonymous source as a reason to discount the story:
The story by Dan Wetzel uses a single anonymous source, the red flag for stupid people who like to point and say "HURP WHY ANONAMOOSE MEDIA FURRP." An anonymous source is fine, especially because this is Wetzel, who knows his shit and has a long track record of solid reportage. Don't rely on this as a critique unless you're dumb, and if you are please, feel free to get your dumbness all over the place somewhere else.
Wetzel and Robinson's one anonymous source is the moment when the blogosphere's trust in the Yahoo military-investigative complex went from implicit to explicit**. Anywhere else, even most newspapers, and the skepticism would be between substantial and total. Here it was minor, mostly limited to the question of paper. Slow States FTW:
So the winner here is clearly Yahoo! and Wetzel, not only for getting their name all over this one but doing the impossible: proving to the Internet (!) that you can in fact trust them next time they come out with a report based on what would at any Kansas City radio station be hardly worth a retweet.
Yahoo has accomplished what the set out to when they hired Wetzel and Robinson and a few other guys and told them "be NCAA enforcement." Q: is it working financially? We've seen Fanhouse go the wide-and-shallow route and eventually give up, leaving TSN to fire everyone except some overpaid columnists. We've seen Deadspin's mix of terrific and awful work. Lord, have we heard the complaints from newspaper folk about how no one cares about quality and no one pays for investigative work. Yahoo seems to be an encouraging counterpoint to the narrative that says in ten years all newspapers will be TMZ and all restaurants Taco Bell.
I know two things:
- I'll be just as depressed as anyone at a newspaper if it turns out Wetzel and Robinson almost singlehandedly causing Bruce Feldman to title a post "Is College Football Falling Apart?"($) does not work financially. If you can't get paid doing what Yahoo is doing you can't get paid doing any substantive reporting.
- The reasonable response to a Yahoo article linking your school to NCAA wrongdoing is to wet yourself and hide in the corner.
BONUS: Interviewed on Chicago radio, Robinson says Yahoo will break two more stories before football season, one a 6-7 on a ten point scale on which Tressel is an 8, the other a 10. I've got Clemson in the pool.
*[With rhabdogate and the whole Legends/Leaders debacle, this appears to be a Big Ten specialty.]
**[There was one obvious exception of local interest that seemed kinder to ignore, but somehow I find myself called out for not responding to it. So, fine: of late MNB Dave has 1) declared moving The Game was not only not a big deal, but a good thing, 2) declared Michigan's most recent recruiting class "awesome", 3) been the only person on the planet other than Dave Brandon to defend Dave Brandon's process, and 4) called out Robinson and Wetzel as what's wrong with modern-day journalism.
He's either sustained a major brain injury or is—as emailers have taken to suggesting on the regular—started taking idiotic contrarian positions for the attention. Either way I'm past the point where a response would be anything constructive. If you agree with any of the above points we are speaking a different language and interaction is pointless. Maybe if I was a better person I could gently explain the many specific ways in which the above positions are incorrect, but I'm sure halfway through I'd go HULK SMASH and start talking about how people look like horses and should be quarantined on the moon so their disease does not infect the rest of the planet. Since I prefer to restrict my vicious ad hominem attacks to people I haven't met I'm taking mom's advice and not saying anything at all… except when directly called out. So: MNB, for the love of God either get a coherent editorial position or fan out into a half-dozen different blogs so I can better distinguish which things to ts;dr.
You don't care, I know, which is why this is a footnote.]
Site update. It took a little longer than we thought it would but we have restored commenting abilities for IE users. This serves as your regular reminder that you should switch to Chrome or Firefox. Also, users should be able to upload avatars again. Also I updated the "MGoElsewhere" menu a bit so it contains links to twitter feeds for both Tim and Tom.
The destruction of the innocents. Basketball beat Northwestern 75-66 yesterday as Jordan Morgan went ham (11 of 13, 27 points) against the Phantom of the Opera and John Shurna failed to exist. Shurna's been limited much of the season and apparently picked something new up recently. His last three games are a DNP against OSU and two games in which he played around 25 minutes but only attempted 5 field goals. Michigan may have gotten a little fortunate there.
I don't have a ton to say that UMHoops didn't cover in the link above but some praise is in order for Morris, Hardaway, and Douglass for setting up Morgan's monster night. Almost all of Morgan's baskets were assisted and even on the ones that weren't his teammates were setting him up in excellent position. Example: Douglass had an excellent post feed—in a year when any post feed is a rarity—that allowed Morgan to immediately spin baseline for a layup. Northwestern's D is terrible so this may stand as a career game for Morgan but it was good to see him be so efficient after that Ohio State game where going up soft cost Michigan badly. Morgan started the game off in similar fashion before becoming ruthless.
Meanwhile, at one point I exclaimed "shoot that!" when Hardaway passed up an open three. Progress all around. I wasn't even that mad about the terrifying Northwestern run because it was four straight three pointers, two of them challenged to the point where there could have been a foul.
Kenpom moved a bit afterwards. Not losing a game Michigan was only mildly favored in pushed the season prediction to almost exactly 17.5-13.5 and increased the chance of reaching 9-9 and therefore the bubble to 16%. Slightly beating the prediction moved Michigan up to 52nd, one spot behind Michigan State.
More fodder for next year's optimism. The Only Colors tracks an individual stat called PORPAG that sort of mimics baseball's VORP. (The usual caveats that basketball is a team game and you don't know about defense, etc., apply.) A quick glance at their top 15 shows Darius Morris sixth. That's excellent. More excellent still is that only four players in the top 15 are going to be around next year: UW's Jordan Taylor, Morris, Shurna, and IU's Jordan Hulls. The rest are seniors or Jared Sullinger. So not only is Michigan returning everyone but the rest of the Big Ten is getting hammered by graduation.
This is not a throwdown. So one part of the now confusingly diverse Maize 'n' Brew crew got sick of my repeated assertions that The Process was the worst way to acquire any new head coach, Brady Hoke or not. The result was this very long post that asserts Michigan's most recent recruiting class is "awesome" and makes other arguments that I don't even know what to do with. Since that post's been disputed by another of that site's contributors and effectively countered by a long message board thread here that's surprisingly light on snark and image macros. I'll forgo a response (other than, you know, this) because Mets Maize made it pointless:
One Small Step for Hoke, One Giant Leap for Hokeamania
There you go: the events of the last month delivered with maximum pith. Nothing has changed the fact Michigan had a candidate pool of one in their coaching search that started in January that they were probably going to start no matter the result of the bowl game.
Hopefully we'll start seeing some reason for optimism other than Mattison soon. Nothing in the intervening weeks qualifies, not even Jason Whitlock's endorsement.
Wasted effort. The Sporting News's Dave Curtis went to some trouble to find out that converting third downs is a good idea. It's gotten play a few places because it's February 10th and the long hard college football offseason has started. I don't like this because I am all mathy and stuff and this…
All five BCS bowl winners ranked among the nation’s top 13 teams in third-down differential. The differential statistic, not officially computed by the NCAA, takes a team’s third-down conversion rate on offense and subtracts its opponents’ third-down conversion rate.
…is not useful at all. "Drives are good," it says.
Worse, it places undue emphasis on third down itself when first and second down are equally, if not more, important. This has unfortunately succumbed to linkrot but back in the day I did an analysis of third downs by distance and frequency, coming to the unsurprising conclusion that short was good and great third down conversion rates are often more indicative of what you did before third down than anything else. Just looking at third down rates is goofy because first and second down contribute to the distance you have to go—you're really looking at "first and second and third down conversion rate," which is fine if you want to look at that. Just don't make it seem like third down is really really important when your number doesn't control for the effects of first and second.
Old news. I got distracted writing posts on the 4-3 and Tim Hardaway that ballooned into way longer thing than I thought they'd end up being, so some items fell through the cracks. You've seen these already if you read anything other than the front page here.
One: Wojo interviewing Brady Hoke. Amongst the increasingly familiar Passion For Michigan, Denard As NFL Vick, and Tremendous Toughness segments were a couple of things that are not familiar. One was Hoke saying he was "pissed off" at Michigan's factionalism the past three years, which is a refreshingly blunt way for a coach to say anything. The other was the admission that beer had a role in shaping Hoke's physique:
Q. Did you just drop a hint you were a bit wild back in your college days?
A. Uh, yeah, for two years I really didn't have the best goals in mind. I wanted to play football and try to drink every beer in Muncie, Ind. And I tell parents that on visits.
I'm trying to ignore the bit that follows wherein "funnest" gets deployed. Football coaches and grammar, man.
Hoke comes off as likeable, down to earth, etc. Even if you're of the opinion that ADs tweeting out old Jason Whitlock articles as evidence in favor of anything is awful, at least the guy he hired has a solidly positive rootability factor.
Q. How often do you chew a kid's tail?
A. Oh, usually daily.
Do yourself a massive favor by taking that out of context.
Two: De-emphasizing Denard, a little bit. This is almost a week old and has the freshness of Abe Vigoda but:
"To a degree … we're blowing a lot of it up," new Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "In our offense, I don't see Denard rushing for 1,700 yards, and I told him that. But I could see him rushing for 1,000 yards, and I could see him throwing for that 700 or 800 he didn't rush for."
Hives hives hives hives hives… mmm smaller, treatable hives. Borges later praises Denard's completion percentage as a couple other coaches make noises about a running game that looks "a little different" and emphasizes more "downhill" running. It then throws this in at the end:
Michigan was eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 488.69 yards, 13th in rushing (234.54), 25th in scoring (32.77) and 36th in passing (250.15).
…and returns ten starters. I'll come around on Al Borges after he's got a tall strapping fellow bombing it for 10 YPA but the chances I don't spend next year bitching about the misapplication of Denard Robinson are slim. I'm not even sure how you get him 1,000 yards if he's taking snaps from center. You can only run so many waggles and Incredibly Surprising QB Draws. As always, I hope to be pleasantly surprised. Hoke uber alles.
Etc.: Michigan picks up a 2013 hockey commit; JT Compher is a forward from Illinois who seems high-end, like first-round OHL pick and easy NTDP pick high-end. We'll see if that holds up as he ages. Mets Maize on the Northwestern game. More justified hockey grumbling. Spring game will be April 16th. Michigan football documentary series planned. The Wolverine Blog points out that the guys who "couldn't shoot ever" now can and that's probably another thing we can add to the list of reasons Darius Morris is awesome. Scot Loeffler becomes Temple's OC.
Apologies to the locals: this is pure meta.
I attended the third(!) Blogs With Balls this weekend in Chicago, where I talked to a great number of people, had a great number of drinks, and was on a panel. The five minutes which seemed the most relevant to people I talked to and were the most-discussed on the twitters afterward consisted of an interrogation of the ethics panel launched by Orson Swindle that I, like a member of Flipmode Squizzod,—which is the squad—popped up in the midst of to deliver a verse. This post is just a document of what everyone said and will avoid any opining, though my opinion is kind of obvious because it's part of the transcript.
Video here, with the relevant section at about the 21 minute mark.
We fade in as the ethics panel opens it up to questions:
JASON MCINTYRE (The Big Lead): Let's start with everyone's favorite blog… let's go with Spencer Hall first.
SPENCER HALL (Every Day Should Be Saturday): I just want to be clear—I'm taking notes for future reference—it's okay to use whatever you want as long as you get pageviews, right, regardless of ethics? [Aside: this sounds like a ridiculous strawman, but it was essentially what Josh Zerkle, Alana G, and McIntyre had argued throughout the panel, with the academic from Minnesota mostly concerned with how funny rape was or was not (her vote: not) and Jonah Keri being way too nice.] We're all clear on that? Right, okay. Anyone horrified?
The other thing I wanted to do is I wanted to ask about sourcing. That wasn't really a question, that was just a statement. I just wanted to have it and I have the microphone.
What do you do to source a rumor? What is a source for you? Do you advance faster than the standard three source or trusted source [garbled] in the media. What do you do, and what have you done in the past? This is two part question so you have to come back to me, and then I'll give the mic to someone else.
JOSH ZERKLE (With Leather): I personally don't like breaking stories. It's not something that's part of our format; it's not something I'm really interested in doing. It sounds like work. I'm not big on doing the research and following up and calling people on the phone… I'm not a phone guy.
To answer your question, it's something I try to stay away from. It's not really my bag; so many people do it better than me that I just try to stay away from it.
ALANA G (Yardbarker): Yardbarker really isn't in the business of making much original content except sponsored blog content and our athlete blogs. On behalf of bloggers in general, I think the three sources thing was a rule that came out of old journalism—they probably teach it in journalism school right?
JONAH KERI (Bloomberg, WSJ, many things): …And it might not be wrong.
ALANA: It's an arbitrary rule for what it is and if you want to have the kind of blog that just runs off one rumor that your cousin's person who works at the Q told you about Delonte [bangin' Lebron's mom] and you want to print that and you continually do stuff like that and you're able to make a successful blog out of that, then hey that works for you. And half your rumors are going to end up being false because you only rely on one source and in that case your credibility will be duly affected. Maybe if you're only half-credible you'll still get a lot of traffic because it's an interesting site. So I think it depends on… I think it will bear out in your credibility at the end of the day from your readers.
ZERKLE: Spencer, let me give you an example. This is something I found out about but never ran; I guess I can share it with everybody. [Laughter.] Not exactly breaking news here, but I was at a wedding in Cincinnati a couple years ago and I ran into a woman who had dated Shayne Graham, and she told me that every time Shayne Graham meets a woman he asks her if she's willing to sign a prenup.
KERI: The vast fortune of Shayne Graham! [Laughter]
ZERKLE: 970,000 dollars a year really goes quick. That by itself is really thin for a story, and I'm not going to be on the phone asking "did Shayne Graham ask you to sign a prenup?" It's more legwork and it's tough to put together a body of work, and then if you don't have enough to get a story… it's not a great use of my time, especially when I'm trying to do nine, ten posts a day.
ALANA: That would have been a funny nugget though, if you had just posted "hey, I have no idea if this is true, but my friend told me this story… could be totally false but I thought it was pretty funny, they might have made it up, but I thought it was funny." And then people have the comments, the jokes… that might not be your bag but…
ZERKLE: Yeah, but as I said I couldn't confirm it so I try to shy away from that stuff.
HALL: Yeah, but what would you [McIntyre] do? I mean, you break stuff. How do you verify a source?
MCINTYRE: Uh… it depends on the story.
HALL: Take the Mark Sanchez model story. [Laughter, including from McIntyre. Note: at this point Hall and McIntyre start talking over each other, so it gets a little confusing.] What did you do—
MCINTYRE: I did absolutely nothing. There are plenty of cases where I will do nothing and run with something and I'm wrong.
HALL: So you did nothing because…
MCINTYRE: I have made plenty of mistakes.
HALL: …I planted that rumor…
MCINTYRE: I wouldn't be shocked. I wouldn't be shocked.
HALL: …and you just ran it…
MCINTYRE: That's not… a few weeks earlier Deadspin had a story where—
HALL: That's true. On April First. On April Fool's Day. We just slipped that by the gate! We were like "maybe we can do this"!
MCINTYRE: Right. A few weeks earlier Deadspin ran a story about the Arizona State coach getting in a fight with Mohammed Ali and they basically got—
HALL: Right right right, but this is what you did. We're not talking about what Deadspin did.
MCINTYRE: But everybody makes mistakes on their blogs. Yes, that was a bad mistake. That's not even—
HALL: But it got you pageviews, right?
MCINTYRE: No it didn't. It didn't generate any pageviews.
HALL: It didn't? Then why did you post it?
MCINTYRE: It was the middle of a Tuesday. That's why I ran it.
HALL: That's why you ran it? Okay.
ALANA: But Spencer, people are still reading The Big Lead because they like the site and they think that it's worthwhile, and they know that Jason makes mistakes every once in a while.
BRIAN COOK (MGoBlog): I think the thing that Spencer seems irritated about and I'm honestly irritated about is that the ethics that are being presented by this panel are like "just do it." And that sucks for somebody like me who does break real news about Michigan sports and I have to contend with the idea that I'm a blog. And that's because of you. [McIntyre]
ADAM JACOBI (Black Heart Gold Pants): [claps feverishly]
EVERYONE ELSE: [crickets]
ALANA: Why do you have to be lumping yourself in with everybody else when you are doing stuff that's of a different quality or of a different…
HALL: [paraphrase, I was there but this is too quiet to make out.] But we're talking about advertisers here [referring to earlier panel] who don't see individual blogs.
ALANA: Right, but if you guys don't like what's happening with other blogs there's not much you can do to stop what I'm going to do on my blog. But you can promote what you're doing on your blog and better market to people what you're doing.
HALL: [inaudible, but given the response to this probably about the Sanchez thing again.]
ZERKLE: Was there any kind of follow-up to that? I mean, you're calling him out now but did you personally write anything after the fact saying "yeah I totally fooled the shit out of McIntyre." I mean, did you call that at all.
ZERKLE: Well, that might have been something to do, if you were concerned about the credibility.
NICOLE LAVOI (U of Minnesota): That's not ethical either.
HALL: What do you think I'm doing now?
ZERKLE: Well, it's two and a half months after the fact. So… good job, I guess.
HALL: This is in front of an audience.
SARAH SPAIN (ESPN 1000 Chicago, WGN, various other things): So is the answer basically that if your decision is to be a blog that isn't as ethical and does the funny stuff and that misses every once in a while, that's you're decision? That if your decision is to be a reputable blog that stands behind its sources and writes from a perspective that is all fact, then that is your decision? And the better man wins?
ALANA: Well, yeah. There's newspapers like the New York Times that are very reputable and very rarely make mistakes, and there are newspapers like the National Enquirer that tell you people are getting abducted by UFOs. And so those are two different markets I think by now, and the market has borne out that these have different levels of reputation, of credibility, and readers and advertisers know that.
KERI: I'm going to disagree with you on that. The New York Times is notorious for running stories with anonymous sources. And they're interviewing "high level government operatives" about whatever, the War In Iraq and they're saying "oh yeah, well, you know, there are Al Qaeda and so we're going to go to war and blah blah blah." We were basically led into something that was not justified because of anonymous sources. There are all kinds of mainstream media outlets—the biggest of the big, Washington Post, New York Times—I mean, I've written for a bunch of them and they make the same mistakes that bloggers do. Everybody lacks credibility.
ALANA: What I'm saying is that with blogs—I understand you guys' [Spencer/yrs truly] frustration because right now we are all blocked in together and people at Proctor and Gamble don't necessarily know who Deadspin is versus the Big Lead versus whatever, MGoBlog, so you know right now it seems like we're all being lumped together and you guys are feeling hurt by things that other blogs are doing. But if we do our jobs right it will all eventually bear out so that everyone has their own reputation, just like the National Enquirer has a different reputation from the Washington Post.
At this point the mic has worked its way across the room to yet another of the infuriatingly-thick-on-the-ground Ohio State fans, this one from Cleveland Frowns, and the throwdown ends.
...this guy definitely had to add that tiny apostrophe and obviously-not-centered E after a Northwestern fan pointed out that "Michigan Your Next" isn't English. Ladies and gentlemen, Ohio State fans!
CSTV is doing this "Battle of the Blogs" thing where Michigan and Ohio State bloggers tackle certain topics. Main page is up; my thing goes Friday.
In which I take aim at Michigan Monday. Passages of interest:
What worries me on offense? Basically, 1995 and 2003. I'm worried about Michigan coming out and being able to run the ball at will. Usually, when the game is in Columbus, I have no fears about Michigan's running game. Don't get me wrong, I don't see Mike Hart busting out like Tim Biakabatuka or Chris Perry, but the thought of Michigan getting five yards on first down every time concerns me.
Weird. The thought of Michigan running on every first down gives me hives; he's concerned about the rush defense. I do think there's reason to be concerned, FWIW, as the Buckeyes have given up quite a lot of yards per carry when opponent running backs are suffered to possess the ball, but I wouldn't expect an OSU fan to be worried about what's honestly been a pretty meh running game.
If Troy Smith gets time to throw, Michigan's secondary is vulnerable. The Wolverine safeties don't necessarily excel in pass coverage and the corners can only do so much. Leon Hall is a very good corner, and when he feels challenged, he always steps it up. Again, if Troy Smith gets time to throw, Michigan will have no favorable match-ups in four and five-wide situations. And that's why Michigan has to get to Troy Smith. If they don't, it's going to be nearly impossible for them to win.
I've addressed this before, but the persistent belief that the Michigan secondary is way vulnerable is also weird. And I agree: if Troy Smith is allowed to sit in the pocket with only one or no extra blockers in, we're screwed. But that's like saying that scoring points is a good idea. Uh... duh. For what it's worth, if OSU doesn't pressure Henne it's going to be almost impossible for them to win.
What about Michigan's passing game, you ask? Honestly, I'm not too concerned about it. Obviously, the screens concern me. In this game, they'll always concern me. But as far as the downfield stuff goes, I'll believe Michigan can have success with it when I see it. Of course, there's always the chance that Michigan has been saving something. Perhaps they'll choose to use the middle of the field more this week than they have in the past. Who knows. I feel the Ohio State secondary matches up very well with the Michigan receivers. The Buckeyes have three very good starting cornerbacks and two very good safeties. Without knowing how effective Mario Manningham is going to be, I think the Ohio State pass defense definitely has the advantage in this one. And don't forget, the Buckeye defense is averaging two interceptions per game.
See, to me something like "the Buckeye defense is averaging two interceptions per game" is a giant red flag, since interceptions are almost always someone on the offense's fault and are totally fluky unless a quarterback is hit while he throws. As a general rule, turnovers are a function of the offense's competency to avoid them, not the defense's ability to force them -- again, with the exception of quarterback pressure. Michigan is very good at avoiding turnovers.
Also: if he doesn't want to believe Manningham is healthy, that's his prerogative, but given everything we know about the nature and extent of his injury, plus the snaps he's taken in the last two games it's silly to assume he can't play. Wishful thinking. Nowhere in his column does he mention Alex Boone's status, and he didn't even play versus Northwestern. (Not that I think his injury will be an issue. The Bucks say he'll be fine, so I believe them.) Manningham is also fine, otherwise Michigan wouldn't risk him before the game -- that would be insane.
He revisits this later:
Receiver Mario Manningham. I won't be convinced he's healthy until I see it. What made him so good before his injury was his ability to cut and separate from the defender. I'm not sure he can do that as well as he needs to against Ohio State's secondary.
Seems like wishful thinking, IMO.
He's going to play most of the game this week due to Ohio State's spread attack. Ask your local Michigan fan how they feel about that. Assuming you know a Michigan fan that knows who Harrison is.
Well, you know, I wish he was like Justin King or whatever, but Harrison's been okay.
Braves & Birds takes a look at the MNC contenders and their average yards per play on both sides of the ball. Conclusions:
In addition to all the other factors that make this weekend's tilt exciting, Ohio State and Michigan look to be two very evenly-matched teams, especially when you take into account that Michigan puts the brakes on its own offense when leading more than your average college football power. (An unprovable assertion, I know, but I've watched a lot of football and I feel pretty comfortable in saying that no one employs the Milton Berle approach more than Michigan.) Michigan is a little better on offense, Ohio State is a little better on offense, and they both have wild card returners who can alter the balance of the game.
Notre Dame has no business being in the national title discussion. Against a relatively unimposing schedule, their defensive numbers are signficantly worse than those of any other national title contender and their offensive numbers are not nearly enough to make up for the shortcoming. USC should bury Notre Dame, especially if the USC team of Saturday night that can run the ball and play defense is the USC team that shows up on November 25. Furthermore, Notre Dame would either be there against a team that beat them by 26 in South Bend or in place of that team with the same record.
Amen. Lord knows what voters will do -- they have West Virginia in front of a Louisville team that beat them by two scores two weeks ago -- but I think they'd be hard pressed to dump the Michigan/OSU loser below ND given the BEAT DOWN in September. OSU would be more likely to fall than Michigan, IMO, since a potential OSU loss would be at home, the Buckeyes' primo win over Texas has recently lost some luster, and the computers are already turning up their noses at OSU's Wisconsin-free schedule.
Stadium & Main has more on the rematch thing.
I guess I should have pointed this out sooner... damn. Anyway, for much of the year the top result on Google when you type in "F*** Michigan" (sans stars) was my anti-Buckeye diatribe from last year. Something must have gotten rejiggered; now it's third. Damn.
BON busts out their "Under The Hood" series for Michigan-OSU, providing a complete statistical overview well worth your time. I also have to link anyone who busts out the time-tested and true "Charts? Charts." Charts!
Initial conclusion: approximately equal teams. Michigan slightly better on resume.