"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."
Summary. The Rodriguez transition as expressed by Smurfs:
That is all.
Second edition? There's been a disconnect between the recruiting buzz on incoming defensive end Jibreel Black (major talent, say mods at the usual sites) and the recruiting services who placed him on the three/four-star borderline. Michigan's coaches had been after Black from early on in his recruiting cycle and pursued him through two(!) commitments to other schools, so they seem to be on the former side.
Maybe a couple more people are sidling over there after Black's performance in the North-South Ohio All Star game:
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
Insert all the usual caveats about all-star games here—who knows if the kid he was going up against is even going I-A, for one—but anything that causes an observer to mention Brandon Graham in the same sentence as someone with eligibility remaining is all right by me.
Antonio Kinard had a pick six and was reputed to have played well; the other Michigan recruits didn't draw much mention except someone calling the matchup between Courtney Avery and 6'7" OSU WR signee Tyrone Williams "unfair." His quarterbacks were exceptionally good sports about it, though, and he finished with just two catches for 19 yards. Tim has more detail in a mini-Friday Night Lights post coming up later today.
It's the circle of life.
Catching up with defectors past. Penn State's quarterback situation is not so good. Kevin Newsome, who you may remember as one of the defectors in the defection-laden class of 2008, is the only scholarship quarterback on campus right now. His competition is Matt McGloin, a walk-on(!), and neither is burning up the field:
McGloin (10 of 23, 110 yards) threw two interceptions and should have had a third – a drop by new defensive back Chaz Powell – returned 90 yards for a touchdown in the first half.
Newsome, a righty with a near-sidearm throwing motion, finished 5 of 12 for 50 yards and lost 12 yards rushing. Dual threat? Not so much Saturday.
Neither is the offensive line, apparently:
To be fair, the QBs didn't have much time to set their feet. Or duck. …
“We're trying different combinations and we're trying to get the best five guys in there,'' Paterno said during a news conference right before the scrimmage.
“The tackles are a concern for us. … We're not really sure who the tackles are going to be.''
Before you go cackling to your Penn State friends, remember that 1) Penn State's defense is not Michigan's defense and 2) IIRC, the author of this article is one of those dinosaur local columnists whose schtick is relentless negativity.
However, a softened version of the snark above has been related by generally positive outlets like the PSU's Scout and Rivals sites. It's safe to say that a certain level of disquiet exists in Happy Valley. Many people are openly speculating about how JoePa is going to have to grit his teeth and start one of his two true freshmen this fall. One of them, Paul Jones, did enroll early. Whoever starts is going to be protected by a couple of converted guards at tackle.
In other spring games:
- Is it good news or bad news that MSU's game, which was an actual game, ended 17-10? I don't know. Kirk Cousin remains an effective passer. The offensive line gave up eight sacks but the starters were split across teams.
- Notre Dame beat Notre Dame 27-19, spawning a number of thread on the message board about how they were terrible and will die against us in the fall. The ND side of things is less resigned to doom. You could even call them encouraged. I think your walk-on second string QB going 18 for 30 for 223 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT is not so good, but as always to read too much into spring games at your peril.
Other future warrior-poets. Meanwhile on the AAU circuit, Carlton Brundidge may have developed a jumper:
Give credit to Carlton Brundidge, the kid is putting in work. The only knock on him in the past has been the lack of a consistent jump shot from three point range, but that looks to be coming along nicely. With defenders playing a sagging zone designed to stop Amir Williams, Brundidge was hitting from deep with ease. As always he still finished going to the rim off the dribble, but Brundidge really looks improved shooting the deep jumper.
UMHoops has video of Brundidge going off for 44 in last weekend's AAU tournament, in which his team made the final before falling. It's impressive even if #15 on the opposition has a dedication to defense that can be described as "hilariously lacking."
Also, AA.com's Mike Rothstein has an interview with Bacari Alexander:
Q: What was the best Globetrotter experience you had?
BA: “You don’t realize what the significance of the Globetrotter experience is until you travel abroad. When I went to Stockholm, Sweden and there was a capacity crowd in the arena to the tune of 18, 19,000 sold out, I said ‘Wow.’ You don’t realize that you’re a part of something so much bigger than yourself.”
This is all right and good. Sweden loves the quintessentially American Globetrotters. America loves Carl Hagelin. We'll call it even. Full profile coming later today.
Updating crush rates. MCalibur updates his QB fragility study, finding that 1) last year was a bad year for everyone except pocket statues and 2) there's still no statistical significance in the numbers. Note that this doesn't mean people who assert running QBs get injured more are definitely wrong:
At first blush it looks like there’s a difference in the injury rates of level 1, 2, and 0/3 but the fact of the matter is that there is insufficient evidence to support this. I actually ran hypothesis tests this time and that was the outcome (failure to reject the null hypothesis that A=B=C=D). Note that this does not mean that no difference exists, simply that there is no reason to conclude that a difference does exist. The differences observed are statistically insignificant.
This is a lesson David Berri could stand to learn. Still, whatever increase there might be in running quarterbacks is minimal if it exists at all:
After six years of data, the guys who run more than anyone else are 2-3% more likely to get injured than pocket throwers and the least-injured quarterbacks are guys who run a little.
Etc.: Women's tennis brings home a Big Ten title and is in the range where a national title isn't out of the possibility. Ann Arbor voids all those parking tickets from the spring game. Nebraska is now making noises about the Big Ten. So is Paul Tagliabue; his are very silly. You are now bowl eligible if you are bowl eligible.
Baraka Obama-a. Remember Kelly Baraka? Unless you're an old-school M recruitnik probably not. If you don't: he was supposed to be a total ninja RB before a number of high school pot arrests saw him lose his shot at an M scholarship. He never made it anywhere else and has regularly featured in "where are they now?" features end up with the Kalamazoo Xplosion, a minor league football team. Not that you needed me to tell you that with a name like "Xplosion."
Yeah… anyway. About that ninja bit:
LeGarrette Blount ain't got nothing on Kelly Baraka.
Video revamp. Inside Michigan Football sans browser-crippling software:
Schilling's beard is a confidence-building one.
Slings and arrows. The Mathlete takes a look at luck over the past two years in the Big Ten and nationally, re-running last season based on performance-adjusted PPG metrics and slicing out some of the huge swings from random plays like fumbles (he leaves in interceptions). Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been on the kind end of things:
I had some questions about whether this "luck" factor was really luck, but there doesn't appear to be any correlation between excellent teams and good fortune. OSU and Penn State average out to be basically even. Iowa nets out around –2. Michigan State's 9-3 2008 team was the second most-fortunate in the country that year, something that checks out in the statistics. It passes a cursory sanity check.
So, then: Northwestern is your official Big Ten lucksack with Minnesota a distant second. If I'm reading the graph right, the Wildcats have been the luckiest team in the country two years running. The negative outlier for 2009—that dot sitting right at –3.0 on the y axis—is Oklahoma, by the way. Not that you needed to be told that a seven-win Stoops outfit suffered its share of outrageous fortune even beyond the Bradford injury.
One stop scouting. The NTDP moved to the USHL this year, which the NHL scouting community loves. Previously, the development team had puttered along in the NAHL, in which draftable prospects are few and far between. Now they're in the USA's premiere junior league and scouts are going "eeee":
"The whole design of the program has given us the selfish benefactor of comparing the Under-18 team on one weekend against the University of Michigan and older players, and then watching them against their group peers the following weekend. But because this is such a select team, an elite team, we think that the elite 18-year-olds should be able to compete against the 21- and 22-year-olds who were not selected in the draft. Those players are older and more savvy but for some reason were passed over."
This should help the NTDP hold on to some of the elite Americans they've lost in recent years. (Example: Stefan Matteau, son of longtime NHLer Stephane Matteau, has accepted a slot according to Michigan Hockey Net.) The 2011 NTDP is a relatively motley bunch. Michigan hasn't recruited anyone from it, a rarity these days. That will change for 2012, as Michigan will have at least two on next years U17s. Boo Nieves is a holy lock for the team and Heisenberg says Connor Carrick has already accepted an invite.
More Brandon panting. David Brandon loves America:
“Expanding the tournament, I believe is a bad idea … there are certain things that if they are not broke, don’t try to fix ‘em. If there is a better, more outstanding platform out there than the NCAA Final Four and basketball tournament, you have to tell me what that is.”
Not that this matters as the 96-team tournament becomes a foregone conclusion. I can't wait for that 9-24 matchup that will determine who has the right to face at eight seed. Guh.
While I'm on Brandon, contrast Michigan's hiring process with the fiasco that went down in Eugene after Mike Bellotti was presented a $2.3 million going-away present after accepting a job with ESPN:
[Oregon president Richard] Lariviere made two things clear: that he initiated the change in leadership and that university officials made missteps in dealing with Bellotti’s contract that no longer will be tolerated.
“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated by my administration.”
Makes the hundred grand or whatever Michigan spent vetting candidates seem like the chump change it is.
Lariviere fired Bellotti because of an "increasing need for strong financial and business management"; the ESPN job was a late development that seemed to allow all parties to save face. (Then it blew up in their face, but it was a nice try.) The trend in athletic directors is clear: CEO types.
Walk it back. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has read enough livid emails about Notre Dame's national cachet and the potential damage to Catholicism that would result from Our Lady joining up with those secular hooligans and is now changing tack on Notre Dame's role in Big Ten expansion:
That, Swarbrick insists now, was not a signal that Notre Dame is more open to finding a home for football in the Big Ten or any other league.
"The only things that could make it happen are the sorts of radical change in the industry that would cause upheaval and impact a lot more (schools) than Notre Dame," he says. "You wind up with only three conferences. You wind up with two tiers of conferences. Now, all of a sudden, it's not three divisions in college; it's four. It's the big change.
"I don't see that happening."
Please reduce your ND-to-B10 DEFCON to 85. Swarbrick adds:
"I really do believe strongly that we're sort of uniquely positioned to continue to chart our own course."
Sort of uniquely positioned? DEFCON back to 84!
In other Big Ten expansion news, Barnhardt writes about a 16 team Big Ten, spurring another round of PANIC duly shot down by DocSat, resurrected by the St Louis Post-Dispatch and OSU athletic director Gene Smith:
"I believe that if we expand, you probably ought to look at more than (just adding a 12th school)," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said.
Stressing that was his opinion and may not be shared by some colleagues, Smith added that he believed the impact "would be pretty massive."
A sixteen team Big Ten is stupid. I complained earlier that an expansion to 14 would see Michigan play Penn State 29% of the time; going to 16 would drop that to 12% (eight conference games) or 25% (nine). That's not a conference any more. The only way it could work would be to adopt promotion and relegation. Whenever I bring this up people point out that the radical swings in team quality characteristic of college football could doom very good teams to irrelevance, and they're right. But it makes more sense than pretending to be in a conference with a team you play once every eight years.
If you're going to expand like that, I think 15 is the number. My completely bats proposal for a 14-team Big Ten is mathematically unworkable, but if you add a 15th team you can break the conference into three divisions of five that play each other and two (or possibly three) opponents in each of the other divisions, and then you can have relegation/promotion crazytimes at the end of the season. This will never, ever happen.
I'm hoping this is all a game of chicken to convince Notre Dame to sign on the dotted line. Expansion of the Big Ten past twelve teams is an idea on par with a 96 team NCAA tournament.
Reviews of a mixed variety. Local scouting service "Best of the Best" returns from the MSHAA playoffs with impressions of a number of players, three of them relevant to your interests. Isaiah Sykes:
He doesn't have a jump shot to save his life, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better finisher and slasher in the 2010 class statewide. Also drop dimes like a 5'9 PG. Terrific rebounder, and is great at getting the defensive board and starting the fast break and making something positive happen with the basketball. High majors are recruiting him, and it's warranted, would be a good late pick up for any up-tempo college team.
He's already committed to Michigan, but I don't know if he'll be successful in that system. In order to succeed at the highest level, picking the right system will be a absolute necessity for him. At the end of the day, he's a SG, and that's the bottom line. He produces and gets the job done, at that's what every team needs. He's a very good finisher for his size at the high school level and he can score in bunches when he gets rolling. All in all, his upside is limited in my opinion.
Decidedly negative, that. Hopefully he can develop a jumper over the next year and a half. Finally, Amir Williams:
A defensive phenom no matter the game because of his length, size, and timing, his effect on the game will be felt no matter what. He is also a hungry rebounder, who attacks the glass. Those are two big positives that you'd like every big man to have in their game, once the offensive part of his game becomes more consistent, we could be looking at another McDonald's All American out of the Country Day program.
Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.
Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":
In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.
FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.
Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:
Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.
I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:
"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."
I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.
(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)
The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:
When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”
That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.
The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:
His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …
"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."
Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.
Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:
"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "
This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.
Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:
HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.
I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:
Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.
“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”
Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.
Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:
For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.
Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.
Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.
Blather about "true running style": inane.
Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?
Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:
The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.
Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:
A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.
This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.
Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.
Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.
Southfield point guard Carlton Brundidge has committed to Michigan. He's a junior at the moment, so will come in for 2011 when Darius Morris is a junior. UMHoops has a full rundown on Brundidge for your delectation. A highlight or two:
Brundidge ranks 98th on Rivals, 68th on Scout and 33rd on ESPN. Carlton is one of the top juniors in the state of Michigan as well, ranking as high or higher as Tommie McCune, Patrick Lucas-Perry, Amir Williams, Brandan Kearney, and others. While some like Brandan Kearney may have more potential, it is hard to argue with Brundidge’s production. …
Brundidge is a power guard who thrives taking the ball to the hoop and creating for himself. His three point jump shot is streaky and a bit funky but he can score in bunches. He is a high energy guy who is often mentioned in scouting reports for being active on the glass despite his short height.
As you can see by the above video, Brundidge is a bulldog of a scoring point guard closer to a Rodney Stuckey (YMRMFSPA!) than a traditional distributor. Like Stuckey, Brundidge can get to the rack and finish with the best of them. He puts up points in bunches, most of them on shots he's created for himself. Also (and unfortunately) like Stuckey, his outside shot is a weakness. Brundidge is considerably shorter than Stuckey, but should be fine for college and may have an inch or two of growth left.
Yes, MGoBlog readers with long memories for slightly uncomplimentary things said about Michigan coaches around these parts will remember a long mailbag post doubting John Beilein's recruiting ability. Picking up Brundidge, who's not a guy you would think finds the Beilein offense a huge selling point, goes a long way towards making that opinion look stupid, and I welcome the opportunity for a fuller mea culpa in the event Beilein picks up either Prather or Zeigler and finishes out the '11 class with a highly-rated post. Stupidity, in this case, is preferred.