chance of bowl: 13.6%
So I'm back from my honeymoon in Greece, and rollin' a 101 degree fever (much appreciated Delta passenger in Seat 12A). Getting the bed sentence for an American male this week basically means lots of college basketball that you can't really follow because you keep drifting off then waking up to either a.) Charles Barkley talking, b.) a guy who looks like your ex-girlfriend's father screaming at you to buy $1,000 TVs, or c.) a radically different score.
At one point Friday afternoon, after a close half where Michigan's best two players ate bench for early foul trouble, I drifted off again and had a fever dream in which Beilein went to his backups and found only ghosts. These apparitions, though by rights having no call to be influencing the corporeal plane, floated onto the court and proceeded to shut down Tobias Harris (who in my dream is 8 feet tall and can't spell "cat") and nail 3-pointers; Michigan won by 30.
Somewhere on my DVR remains a record of what really happened but I'm a man in a room full of used kleenex and the last time I looked on the internet it said hockey lost to Western Michigan 5-2, so until someone tells me different I'm going with the fever dream.
If the dream were true Michigan faces Duke this afternoon at 2:30. You'll get a full preview (update: scroll down to Tim's preview below), but the gist is that Michigan is baby Duke. The Devils' point differential scares the living hell out of me. Then again, I literally need to get some living hell out of me so let's ball.
Diaries: Hoops Edition
It was late January and a 10-2 non-conference schedule against nobodies became a brutal 1-7 mark against the league's toughest conference. The turning point came against little brother, who in basketball has spent the bulk of two decades as a national power. That team which aneurism-ed in Breslin wasn't the same that dominated a first-round 8-9 game in the NCAA Tournament. The squad in January was but an upset special, something that might pull off a miracle using guts and bloody white guys. When Michigan faced that same MSU team again – in Ann Arbor – it had become the Tim Hardaway show, and a ho-hum victory for the better team. The Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten, behind only the consensus No. 1 team in the nation and two popular Final Four picks.
How did we come so far? Leave it to bronxblue to tell it as it only can be told, with basketball movie posters:
This was still a dangerously-shallow crew, but it played like a team and bought into Beilein’s system in a way no other team had. And nobody grew more as a player than Hardaway, who scored in double figures in every game and was the catalyst for wins over Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota, playing and being absolutely unconscious at times from beyond the arc.
In a confluence of events that has left dozens of columnists misusing the word "ironic," ESPN aired its Fab Five documentary just as Michigan was sealing its most astounding in-season turnaround in memory. The documentary led to long threads hashing over Michigan basketball's gilded age, but also this fan perspective from Coach Schiano of the '93 Finals run.
The team didn't seem to have their legs that infamous Monday night against UNC. I think Kentucky took a lot out of them. Watching UNC breeze by a lousy Kansas team on Saturday, I was convinced we had the tougher road, and during the last game it showed.
As for the man whose star-birth turned Michigan from plucky guys who might beat the worst MSU team in recent memory to potential bracket busters, Blazefire does a comparison of Tim Hardaway Jr.'s freshman season against his father's four years at UTEP. The younger Hardaway isn't quite the shooter or setup man but otherwise stacks up well against his dad…as a junior.
I also bumped lfj75's Historical Performance of NCAA Seeds to a diary – it basically says 8-seeds don't often win NCAA tourneys. Then again 8-seeds don't usually blow out 9-seeds using spectral bench players.
And though it's now moot, credit jamiemac (of Just Cover Blog) for his Feb 28 bracket matrix, which did a better job explaining which chalk to trust in seeding (and in building a bracket) than about anywhere on the internet.
Diaries: Football Edition
It's official spring tomorrow but it's been football spring for a few weeks. With two other big money sports to hold blue attentions the football information flow has slowed to a trickle. However, lurking user FlyRy4 managed to get us some inside dope from Mattison while attending the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, and DamnYankee performed a great service by reposting as a diary. FlyRy has received an admin points bump so he can bring things like this to us again. Bullets:
- 4-3 under defense that will look like a 5-2 to some – similar to what they ran in Baltimore.
- Mike Martin supposedly will get single-teams and chances to disrupt.
- Big Will is is winning the group competitions at 3-tech (over Q-Wash, Talbott, Ash et al.)
- Cam Gordon's an SLB, not a safety.
- "Inability of players to watch film correctly." Don't quite know what this means, but I'm all for proper video watching.
There's more in there from Mattison, so click.
The Rivals 250 is out, and Bodogblog broke them down by regions. Unsurprisingly there's a lot more talent in the SEC footprint than anywhere else. I'd like to see somebody do a comparison by year of Rivals 250 versus who gets drafted by the NFL; I have a feeling you'd find suggestive evidence that players in the South are more likely to get a 4-star.
And that maniacal laughter you hear in the background is THE_KNOWLEDGE, who points out the Tressel thing is something even the trolliest troll wouldn't dare dream up.
Diaries: Hockey Edition
As I'm writing this (11:30 a.m. Sunday) I'm watching the tournament announcement show, but if there's few surprises it's thanks to the excellent work of mfan_in_ohio, who has been keeping us updated with the pairwisii. You can go back to the March 13 and March 6 updates to feel out the whole process. Denver lost a nailbiter last night to North Dakota and ended up the 2 seed in that bracket, but mfan says Miami (NTM)'s CCHA championship will give them the last 1-seed, putting Mich in St. Louis with BC, CC and Nebraska-Omaha. And lo and behold, he's right. Michigan will play Nebraska-Omaha then face the winner of Boston College and Colorado College in St. Louis.
For his tireless effort and The_Knowledge-like prognosticative powers, this is your Diarist of the Week.
Diaries: Wrestling Edition
Enfin, I just wanted to share a little love for the all the Greco-Michigan fans I met. Yes, I can be the kind of tourist douche who wears Michigan gear when in Europe, but apparently there are a lot of Greeks who know the block M. Greek Michigan fans, we salute you, and not just because you built the Parthenon just to rub in a victory over Spartans.
This is the conclusion to Carving Up Ohio Part I from last week.
As a refresher, I split up Ohio into 7 regions, then went over the 4- and 5-stars since 2002 (based on Rivals.com) to see if there's a regional difference in how Michigan recruits, and also if there are any opportunities I can see where the Wolverines could do better. Ultimately, my hope is that this could serve as reference for future discussions of Michigan's Ohio recruiting. Last week was Toledo, Dayton, Cincy and the Columbus regions. This week I finish up with Cleveland, Eastern Ohio, and conclusions. Also remember by "2012 Prospects" I mean "mentioned on main page of MGoBlog this month." There have been a few more added from the offer cannon since then, thanks to umhero's Offer List, and Tim's just-released 2012 Recruiting Board. Also, I went back and found a lot more former Wolverines (going back to 1991 grads), which I have added to the Spreadsheet. That Spreadsheet lives here.
Notes before you start: Figures given are for 4- and 5-star recruits from 2002 through 2011, based on Rivals. "5-Star Recruits" are those given 6.1 on Rivals Scale, if available. Current and former Wolverines include all recruits I could remember or find because a good way to get the blue chips interested in your school is to have their old teammates come and have a good experience there. Conferences without a percentage in the Conf. Breakdown got one guy.
Notes so you don't complain about arbitrary regional divisions: Where the "Steel Corridor" is separated is up for debate: I put Cleveland and Akron together as I might include Ann Arbor as part of Detroit, and made a separate region for Wayne County, Canton, Warren and Youngstown. In the southwest, Cincy (with its own cultural image) is separated from Dayton.
Cleveland/NE Erie: 37 players, 70.3% Ohio State
And you wonder why they say God hates Cleveland? By far the largest football factory in the state, The Mistake by the Lake allows less than 30% of its high-profile recruits to take their talents somewhere other than the big black eye of the Big Ten.
That's mostly thanks to the Glenville Academic Campus, a powerhouse program run by Ted Ginn Sr. that pumps blue chips directly to Columbus on an annual basis. Of the 14 Glenville 5.8+ products since '02, 10 were Buckeyes, including standouts Ted Ginn, Donte Whitner, Jamario O'Neal, and Troy Smith. The last 4-star or higher to come out of Glenville and go blue was Pierre Woods in 2001. Cleveland's big Jesuit school St. Ignatius gave us the Massey brothers and Jake Ryan, and sent as many 4-stars to Pitt (Mark Myers) or Notre Dame (Dan Fox) as Ohio State (Tony Gonzalez). St. Ed's in Lakewood is a power program (2010 D-I State Champs), that takes in players from all over the state (e.g. DT prospect Greg Kuhar is from Concord Twp., between Akron and Columbus), and ships out at least one good Big Ten player a year. No past Wolverines – Alex Boone was the last big pursuit - but Hoke has offers to four of their 2011 seniors.
You really can't separate Cleveland recruiting from Ginn, who has made a life's work out of taking in at-risk inner city youth, and bussing them around to Ohio campuses. Michigan fans tend to wonder if Ginn Sr. steps over the line from educator to active OSU recruiter (recruiting fans will remember the unpredictable, visit-canceling decision processes of safety prospect Latwan Anderson (Miami-YTM), and OL Aundrey Walker (USC)). On the other hand, Pierre Woods was sleeping in a car when Ginn found him, and even the most jaded among us would still rather have Troy Smith win a Heisman for Tressel than seen him continue on the path he was on: one more gangbanger on the Cleveland streets. Still, until Ann Arbor becomes a bus stop on the Tour de Ginn and the Wolverines burst the Glenville pipeline, the Cleveland pickins will remain slim and scattered.
Any positives? Well Desmond Howard was born and raised in Cleveland. And a guy named Glenn from the Akron suburb of Baberton became the most quintessential "Michigan Man" since Yost. The area was once a major pipeline for Bo and Mo. More recently, Brady Hoke secured a commitment this month from tight end Frank Clark, a Glenville product who has vowed to redirect that notorious Cleveland pipeline northward.
- Current Wolverines: Christian Pace (Avon Lake), Frank Clark (Glenville), Jake Ryan (St. Ignatius)
- 2012 Prospects: DEs Greg McMullen and LaTroy Lews (Hoban), DE Pharaoh Brown (Lyndhurst Brush), DE Tom Strobel (Mentor), DT Greg Kuhar, OLs Kyle Kalis and Tyler Orlosky, and TE Sam Grant (St. Edward-Lakewood), Kyle Dodson (Cleveland Heights)
- Former Wolverines: Desmond Howard and Elvis Grbac (St. Joseph), Scott Loeffler and Joe Ries (Baberton), Ricky Powers and Eric Graves (Akron-Buchtel), Jason Foster (Medina), Dave Henkel (Cleveland Heights), Ray Edmonds (Hoban), Randy Stark (Mentor), Dave Petruziello (Lake Catholic in Mentor), Dennis Washington (Lorain), Brian Wallace (Padua Franciscan-Parma), Michael and Patrick Massey, John Jaeckin, Trent Zenkewicz, Jason Brooks and Pat Kratus (St. Ignatius), Caleb White (Akron-Washington), and Zoltan the Inconceivable (Romania, Space, Twinsburg)
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Cleveland (Glenville, St. Ignatius, Cleveland Heights), Akron (Hoban), Twinsburg, Lakewood (Lakewood H.S., St. Ed's)
- FBS Schools in Region: Kent State (MAC), Akron (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools Nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Pittsburgh (Big East), Toledo (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Buffalo (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Latwan Anderson (Mimai-FL), Beanie Wells, Robert Rose, Ted Ginn Jr., Alex Boone and Mike D'Andrea (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 86.5% Big Ten, 5.4% Big East, (ACC, Pac Ten, MAC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 26, Michigan 1, Notre Dame 1
Eastern Ohio: 24 Players, 37.5% Ohio State
If there's a football capital of the world, this region would have a strong claim to it; the predecessor to the NFL was established in a 1920 meeting at a Canton car dealership. Penn State has a lot of natural fans out here, as does Pitt. Notre Dame has recruited here for a century. Contrasting sharply with the nearby Cleveland area, Eastern Ohio sends more high-profile kids to other Big Ten schools than it does Ohio State. Tressel, who came up through the area's FCS power YSU, still has enough connections in the region that Ohio State fares well at the smaller programs. The big ones, on the other hand, have been relatively unkind to the Buckeyes, at least as compared to the rest of the state.
Here Michigan has had success, mostly from a connection to Warren G. Harding H.S. (Burgess, Manningham, D.J. Williamson, Davion Rogers) in Warren. That school has sent a fair amount of 3-stars to Michigan State, so some defense is necessary. Harding's responsible for two Buckeye RBs, Maurice Clarett (you remember him) and Dan Herron. In Youngstown, Cardinal Mooney is kind to Penn State, but Rodriguez recruited Taylor Hill out of there (to both West Virginia and Michigan), and more recently Ray Vinopal. Across town is confirmed Michigan pipeline Liberty; all three of its FBS commits since '02 (Isaiah Bell, Antonio Kinard, Fitz Toussaint) have chosen Michigan. Ursuline (Penn State's Daryll Clark) is a very successful Div V Catholic program called "The Irish," yet strangely sends few players to Notre Dame.
Wayne County is a football-mad region southwest of Akron. The Wooster-Orrville rivalry in Wayne is famous in the state, but doesn't produce as many top NCAA prospects as neighboring Stark County, i.e. Canton. The Canton area includes Washington HS in Massillon and their archrivals at Canton McKinley. The former has produced a few Wolverines (Crable, Turner), the latter a few Buckeyes (Mike Doss, Tyler Everett). GlenOak [sic] is a suburban school in Plains Twp. that is basically the north side of Canton. On the opposite side of the city is Canton South, a separate district that includes Pike Twp. and produces more than its fair share of FBS talent.
- Current Wolverines: Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell (Youngstown Liberty), Jerald Robinson, (Canton South), D.J. Williamson (Warren Harding), Ray Vinopal (Cardinal Mooney)
- 2012 Prospects: S Deshaun Hall (Canton-GlenOak), DE Se'Von Pittman (McKinley), LB Mason Monheim (Orrville), RB William Mahone (Austintown Finch)
- Former Wolverines: Ben Mast, Shawn Crable, John Woodlock and Justin Turner (Massillon), Mario Manningham, Prescott Burgess, Davion Rogers and Carl Diggs (Warren Harding), Alfie Burch (Warren West Reserve), Bryan Wright (Salem), Taylor Hill (Cardinal Mooney), Antonio Kinard (Youngstown Liberty), Buster Stanley (Youngstown East), Deollo Anderson (Youngstown Ursuline), James Otis Williams (Canton-GlenOak), Shawn Lazarus (Canal Fulton)
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Massillon, Youngstown (Ursuline, Cardinal Mooney, Liberty, Austintown), Canton (GlenOak, South, McKinley), Warren (Harding), Coshocton, Carrolltown
- FBS Schools in Region: (none)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Penn State (Big Ten), Pitt (Big East), West Va. (Big East), Ohio (MAC), Akron (MAC), Kent St (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Prescott Burgess (Michigan), Maurice Clarett (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 91.7% Big Ten, Big East, Big XII
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 9, Michigan 6, Notre Dame 1
Southeastern Ohio: (0 Players rated 4-stars+)
The area has produced very little in the way of top talent. Driving through here you'll see a lot of Ohio State stickers on mailboxes sticking out from the (beyond knee-high by the Fourth of July) tasseled corn stalks. That which isn't farmland is forested. Much of the population lives in Appalachian-influenced rust belt towns like Portsmouth and Ironton (a big rivalry) along the Ohio River. West Virginia and Marshall are not that far away, and many Ohio-side towns from Rome to Bellaire are either tributary towns, or small Windsor-like reflections of larger West Virginian population centers.
Current Wolverines: (none)
2012 Prospects: (none)
Former Wolverines: (none)
Notable Recruiting Sites: Portsmouth, Ironton/South Point, Athens, Marietta
FBS Schools in Region: Ohio University
Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Penn State (Big Ten), Cincinnatti (Big East), Pitt (Big East), West Va. (Big East), Marshall (C-USA), Ohio (MAC), Akron (MAC)
5-Star Recruits: (none)
Conference Breakdown: N/A
School Breakdown: N/A
Totals & Conclusions
I was writing this before blublooded put together a shorter, similar thing on Michigan in-state recruiting. As he notes in that article, which used the same metrics, 76 4- and 5-stars were produced in Michigan. For comparison, in the same timeframe, Ohio produced 136.
This is why Ohio recruiting is important for the University of Michigan: our biggest rival has a state that produces almost twice as many top prospects as ours. An whereas we share the mitten with an in-conference rival, OSU is situated smack dab in the middle of this bucket of NCAA talent, with only a Big East commuter school and a bunch of MACrifices around its edges to compete with. Remaining a player for talent across the state keeps that talent away from the one rival who can make or break our season, and establishes pipelines within our region's biggest talent centers. When Michigan is a national title contender, we're winning with Ohians.
|Region||Big Ten||SEC||ACC||Big East||Big XII||Pac Ten||MAC|
You'll note not a lot of talent escapes the conference. Only Cincinnati, which has the state's only other BCS tie and is situated across the river from the SEC, had a significant amount of talent going elsewhere (Toledo's 28% departure rate is due to one USC guy and one player who went to Wake Forest).
Consistent with what you'd expect from a big state with one major program in the middle of it, about half of the 4- and 5-stars from Ohio go to Ohio State, while a third go somewhere else in conference. Among other Big Ten schools who got more than 1 blue chip Ohioan since '02, Michigan State was the only one to leave the major highways in the north of the state. Notre Dame got half of its haul out of the Cincy Catholic schools, but like MSU got another four from various places. Penn State's three were all from near the Pennsylvania border.
Ohio State showed its strongest presence in Dayton and Cleveland, but the Canton-Youngstown region, Cincy, and Toledo were dramatically more open, even showing pipelines to other schools. It's a daunting task, but it seems the best thing Michigan could do would be to focus on competing with Ohio State for kids near the hometowns of Bo Schembechler and Brady Hoke. Goal 1 would be to crack Glenville in Cleveland, and hit Western Ohio hard, thus tapping two excellent recruiting pipelines while simultaneously cutting directly into Jim Tressel's most consistent resource.
Michigan's better years in recent memory coincided with strong success in Ohio recruiting, but this should be obvious if looking at any out-of-state recruiting: more wins = more national interest in the program. However I do think I've gotten to the bottom of how this whole "Must Own Ohio" meme got stuck in our brains in the first place:
The chart shows Michigan's roster for each year using stats from Bentley. That big blotch of yellow from 1969 to 1989 peaking in the middle of the Ten Year War was Bo Schembechler building his program by stealing tools out of Woody's garage then using them to beat his old sensei senseless. After four or five years of this, Bo actually had more Ohioans playing for Michigan than Michiganders. (Aside: the thing also shows Rich Rod inheriting the smallest roster since World War II).
|1891||Murphy & Crawford||11.11%||63.89%|
|1901-'26||Fielding Yost & George Little||7.41%||37.89%|
Versus those who came before, Bo dramatically increased out-of-state recruiting, first in Ohio and then all over the country. Versus those who came after, Bo was doing more than twice the going rate. My point: Recruiting the shit out of Ohio is a diademed Schembechlerian value. 'Course once Hayes retired Bo noticeably shifted toward national recruiting, a direction which his heirs maintained. As for Hoke, it's really hard to glean much from an offer list since S.O.P. for out-of-state offers is to give 'em out like candy, but of the 100 on umhero's list, here's a statewise Top 5:
|3(t)||Florida & Michigan||9|
|5(t)||Maryland & Texas||6|
Hoke uber Bo alleles!
Since football's hibernating and playoff season is near for the other two revenue sports, the diarists have been mostly focusing on these other things, as we try to figure out what various postseasons will resemble.
Hockeywise, mfan_in_ohio has been keeping up with pairwise. As of last week, Hagelin et al. were about as high in the PW as we could go (emphasis mine):
"It’s almost impossible to flip two of these comparisons. The best we are likely to do, if we win out, is a tie for fourth and winning the RPI tiebreaker to get the top seed in a regional. Of course, none of the regionals are particularly close (the closest are St. Louis and Green Bay), but the top seed means not having get by an east coast team on the east coast to get to the Frozen Four. This, however, is about as likely as the basketball team making the NCAAs. The most likely scenario now is a 2-seed."
Then something magic happened:
Meanwhile, around college hockey, Merrimack got swept (crushed, really) by Maine, allowing Michigan to flip its comparison with Merrimack and move up to a solo fourth in the Pairwise rankings … Michigan is in the driver’s seat for the fourth spot in the Pairwise and the #1 seed hat goes along with it.
Precarious things including Ohio State winning (they're back below the Maginot line but if they can climb back into the Top 50 our 5-1 record counts). But they no longer seem as far fetched as M basketball in the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of hoops hopes, Michigan was seconds away from finally getting that signature win that makes the difference between feasible and pipe dream, when…
I wasn't there to see it. But one man in Row 42 poetically captured the feel of it:
Backs to the wall, battled the Maize and Blue.
Though they may fall, they fought to find their way through.
They'll stand, and fight those who stand in their way.
They'll stand, and with all their hearts they will play.
Blazefire's point is that this team is the kind that's really easy to root for. Like remember the first time Hart got the ball instead of Underwood or Jackson or ol' what's his name who was the same year as Hart and higher rated out of high school, and you weren't expecting much but then the little fella was still going forward long after three Big Ten linebackers did the thing that would normally bring down even a Perry or Thomas, and you were like…this basketball team is kind of like that.
Not all hopes died that day. For one, there's still the possibility of a Big Ten Tourney run. As we try to puzzle out what such a run might look like, AC1997 started with the edges and then worked in:
Right now we know who the top three teams are (OSU, Purdue, Wisconsin). We also know who the bottom four teams are (Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, Indiana). At this point those seven spots aren’t really likely to change barring some upsets in the final week. But the middle four spots are totally up for grabs among Michigan, MSU, Illinois, and Penn State.
He then breaks down those four and concludes a scenario where we beat State in the finale then Illinois in the first game of the playoffs could be enough to beat the bubble field.
Speaking of the bubble, mfan_in_ohio (apparently buried under the snow this week with only an internet connection and NCAA comparison charts) has been making the M case against the field this week. Part I compares us to Butler. Then in an epic Part II is Gonzaga, Alabama, and UAB. These, plus the pairwises above – apropos given the header topic – make this Maize and Blue Ohioan the Diarist of the Week.
Elsewhere, Michigan Wrestling finished the season last week by pinning Little Brother and giving him a noogie (no word yet on whether we did that thing where you let your spit hang over his face before you suck it back up again). The Big Ten tournament is up next.
And finally a Magic Muppet Mazel Tov to the Michigan Men's Swimming team, i.e. your BIG TEN CHAMPION Men's Swimming Team.
UPDATE: Part II lives here.
California, Texas, Florida: these are the Big Three states for college football recruiting. No. 4: Ohio. Yet unlike other talent-rich states, the Cradle of (generally bad) Presidents lets little of it escape, despite having just one major college program within those borders. Virtually alone among schools that can penetrate those borders, Michigan has long made Ohio not just its natural enemy but also its favorite resource for out-of-state talent.
Ohio blood ran through the veins of Woodson, of Desmond, and of course Bo, as well as hundreds of other legends associated with the University of Michigan. Furthermore, every highly rated recruit stolen from the State of Ohio's borders has been less guy in the pool for Ohio State.
I realized the other day that when I heard a recruit was from a program in Ohio, I couldn't visualize what that meant. Is that school near Toledo, where kids are as liable to grow up Maize and Blue as Scarlet and Gray? Or did we pull them directly away from the Columbus area? What about Cleveland? Do players from Cincinnati tend to head south to the SEC more than other Ohioans? Some of our readers and staff are certifiable Ohio prep experts, but I'm not.
So I split up the state into 7 regions, then went over the 4- and 5-stars since 2002 (based on Rivals.com) to see if there's a regional difference in how Michigan recruits, and also if there are any opportunities I can see where the Wolverines could do better. Ultimately, my hope is that this could serve as reference for future discussions of Michigan's Ohio recruiting. If you're really interested in this stuff, ScoutingOhio.com is a recruiting site devoted to it.
For our purposes, I did like Tim and counted Notre Dame as a Big Ten school. For those of you who know more about this stuff than I do, I very much welcome your criticism and suggestions – I'm sure I've missed something, and plan to edit it as omissions or mistakes become apparent. By "2012 Prospects" I mean "mentioned on main page of MGoBlog this month." Spreadsheet lives here.
UPDATE: Right, so immediately after I posted this, Rescue_Dawn put out his latest recruiting map. Use together.
Note: I think he's got Ifeadi Odenigbo in the wrong Centerville. Also: lol at states that have three towns called Centerville.
Notes before you start: Figures given are for 4- and 5-star recruits from 2002 through 2011, based on Rivals. "5-Star Recruits" are those given 6.1 on Rivals Scale, if available. Current and former Wolverines include all recruits I could remember or find because a good way to get the blue chips interested in your school is to have their old teammates come and have a good experience there. Conferences without a percentage in the Conf. Breakdown got one guy.
Notes so you don't complain about arbitrary regional divisions: Where the "Steel Corridor" is separated is up for debate: I put Cleveland and Akron together as I might include Ann Arbor as part of Detroit, and made a separate region for Wayne County, Canton, Warren and Youngstown. I made the cutoffs based on regional dialect, which I felt reflected cultural differences between Cleveland/Akron/Elyria, which are Lake Erie oriented, and Canton/ Warren/ Youngstown, etc., where you start getting a Pennsylvanian orientation. The OHSAA Div. 1 map is of no help since it puts Youngstown and the Cleveland schools in one division so the Massillon and Canton schools can be together. In the southwest, Cincy (with its own cultural image) is separated from Dayton, which though an hour's drive away is more aligned with the areas you pass when heading down I-75 after Findlay (the US-23 towns counted for Columbus).
Northwest Ohio: 7 Players, 28.6% Ohio State
The region closest to Michigan is naturally split between those two programs, with a third going elsewhere. In this part of Ohio, it's almost expected that grade school classes, families, and towns would be bitterly divided between Michigan and Ohio State. Being Ground Zero for the biggest rivalry in American sports, unsurprisingly a lot of highly rated recruits end up at a Big Ten school, and almost two thirds at M or OSU. The Toledo (e.g. Whitmer) area mostly dominates the region, with Maumee, Perrysburg, and Bowling Green all nearby. Wauseon is a middle-of-nowhere program that's easy to get to from Ann Arbor and just about nowhere else. Once past Findlay, the further down I-75 you get, the more Buckeye the territory becomes. Farm towns near Lima like Delphos (St. Johns) and Kenton have successful programs that pump out 2- and 3-stars but few blue chips. The Sandusky-Fremont rivalry lives here. There isn't much more the Wolverines can do here that we aren't doing already. However this year the region seems to be stronger than previous years, with at least three prospects expected to be 4-stars or higher.
- Current Wolverines: Kevin Koger, Elliott Mealer, Greg Brown, Jack Miller
- 2012 Prospects: DE Chris Wormley (Toledo-Whitmer), QB Maty Mauk (Kenton), QB Tyler O'Connor (Lima)
- Former Wolverines: Willis Barringer
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Toledo (Whitmer), Wauseon, Delphos, Kenton
- FBS Schools in Region: Toledo (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Michigan (Big Ten), Ohio State (Big Ten), Notre Dame (Ind.), Miami-OH (MAC), Eastern Michigan (MAC), Kent State (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Fred Davis (USC)
- Conference Breakdown: 71.4% Big Ten (Pac Ten, ACC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 2, Michigan 2, Notre Dame 0
The Dayton region and areas north of it are much like Indiana which borders it. More basketball than football stars have come out of the area. The Trotwood-Madison pipeline (Shaw, 'Tree, Moore) has helped Michigan, but Ohio State dominates the area with strong ties to Northmont in Clayton, and Wayne HS in Huber Heights. That last is a football factory which has sent a few kids to Michigan State recently, and most recently supplied Michigan with the Talbotts. Wayne fed Braxton Miller, Donnie Evege and Marcus Freeman to Ohio State, so establishing a strong connection there could be an opportunity to make some headway against the Buckeyes.
It should help that our new head coach is himself from Dayton. Mid-power programs from Middletown, Centerville, and SmackdabintheCenteroftheMedialofMiddlecity (We're from Middle!) would be a good place to start.
- Current Wolverines: Michael Shaw, Brandon Moore, Roy Roundtree, Terrence Talbott, Terry Talbott
- 2012 Prospects: S Bam Bradley (Trotwood-Madison), OL Benny McGowan and DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (Centerville), CB Cody Quinn (Middletown)
- Former Wolverines: Brandon Harrison
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Trotwood-Madison, Centerville, Kettering (Archbishop Alter), Middletown, Springfield, Dayton, Clayton, Huber Heights (Wayne)
- FBS Schools in Region: Miami-Ohio (MAC)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Cincinnati (Big East), Ball State (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Toledo (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: (none)
- Conference Breakdown: 82.6% Big Ten, 8.7% Big East (SEC, ACC)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 14, Michigan 4, Notre Dame 0
Cincinnati/Southwest: 26 Players, 26.9% Ohio State
Cincinnati is located on the river across from Kentucky. Other than the stopover for Midwest head coaches in town, the closest BCS school is actually Louisville. Tressel made a point of trying to improve OSU's notoriously mediocre recruiting in the region, but it's still the least Buckeye-ical part of the state. Notre Dame and Boston College have longtime pipelines out of the Cincy-area Catholic schools Elder and St. Xavier. Colerain (Mister Simpson, Cobrani Mixon) popped out a lot of talent in the middle of the last decade. A lot of Cincy blue chips have headed to SEC schools like Tennessee, LSU, and Kentucky. Those that haven't (e.g. Greg Jones of MSU) have a tendency to outperform their ratings. Very few 4- and 5-stars end up playing for the hometown Bearcats. There's room to improve, particularly by following Dantonio into his old stomping grounds and offering the same guys.
- Current Wolverines: Antonio Poole, Jibreel Black
- 2012 Prospects: WR Dwayne Stanford (Taft), WR Monty Madaris (Moeller), OL Caleb Stacey (Oak Hills), DE Ryan Leahy (La Salle)
- Former Wolverines: Cobrani Mixon, Mister Simpson
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Cincinnati (La Salle, Taft, Princeton, Colerain, St. Xavier, Moeller, Winton Woods, Oak Hills), Lakota West, and Hamilton
- FBS Schools in Region: Cincinnati (Big East)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Ohio State (Big Ten), Miami-OH (MAC), Louisville (Big East), Ball State (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame), DeVier Posey (Ohio State), Jordan Hicks (Texas), Spencer Ware (LSU), Ben Martin (Tennessee)
- Conference Breakdown: 57.7% Big Ten, 19.2% SEC, 11.5% ACC, 7.7% Big East (Big XII)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 6, Notre Dame 4, Michigan 1
Central Ohio: 20 Players, 45% Ohio State
You would think that the region closest to Ohio Stadium would send the most players to Ohio State. Yet for many who grow up in Columbus and the surrounding environs (Ohioans call these "corps" for some reason), when it comes to signing their L.O.I.s, they choose to follow Marcus Ray the hell out of Dodge. This is called the "Buckeye Proximity Effect," where by growing up in constant contact with the worst fan-base on the planet (that doesn't have self-proclaimed "hooligans") half of Columbians will give in and join them, and the other half will leave the moment the opportunity presents itself. The Buckeye Proximity Effect accounts for half of the 4- and 5-stars produced in Central Ohio not signing with Ohio State. Of course, since few in Columbus ever learn there's something else other than Buckeye football out there until college, a whopping 87.5% stay in the Big Ten, giving them an opportunity once a year to come back and try to convince friends and loved ones to leave the cult. Notre Dame pulled 2006 Heisman candidate Brady Quinn out of enemy territory, for example.
Michigan has had success, mostly in turning up diamonds among the "Corps" off the beaten path (most recently: Omameh, Avery). A full-scale invasion into the heart of enemy territory is certainly doable, as myriad 4-star signings with MSU, Illinois, Wisconsin and Notre Dame attest. Michigan has traditionally done well stealing away some 3-stars spurned by the Buckeyes (Mike Boren was one such back in the day), but beating Ohio State head-to-head for the blue chips is a rare feat.
- Current Wolverines: Chris Rock, Patrick Omameh, Keith Heitzman, Courtney Avery, Tamani Carter
- 2012 Prospects: (none?)
- Former Wolverines: Justin Boren, Mark Bihl
- Notable Recruiting Sites: Pickerington (Central HS), Lancaster, Columbus (Bishop Hartley, Watterson), Hilliard-Davidson, Dublin (Coffman)
- FBS Schools in Region: Ohio State (Big Ten)
- Other FBS Schools nearby: Cincinnati (Big East), Miami-OH (MAC), Bowling Green (MAC), Toledo (MAC), Kent State (MAC), Akron (MAC), Ohio (MAC)
- 5-Star Recruits: Mike Adams (Ohio State)
- Conference Breakdown: 85% Big Ten (SEC, ACC, Big XII)
- School Breakdown: Ohio State 9, Michigan 1, Notre Dame 2
Next Week: This thing was getting long, and I'm one week into a four-weekend stretch of Grand Rapids-Bachelor Party-Europe-Europe, so next week you get Part II, with Cleveland/Akron, Eastern Ohio (Massillon/Canton to Youngstown), a reminder that Southeast Ohio exists, and analysis. Onto diaries:
When You Should Fire That Guy?
In most cases, the answer isn't "before his squad plays one down."
Undefeated dream season of 1992 went back and revisited his Canning Your Coordinator piece from last December, this time by implementing FEI rankings:
For the same reasons discussed in the previous section, we'll evaluate the hypotheses based on the change in a unit's FEI rank from the previous season to the current season. And looking at our three years of data across 120 FBS teams get this:
It is far and away the Diary of the Week. It's long, and not so relevant to Michigan now that we have a new staff (e.g. ninja recruiter Mattison) but well, well, well worth the read.
The Same Thing As Mine, But Not:
I was writing this before blublooded put together a shorter, similar thing on Michigan in-state recruiting:
There has been some variation from year to year in U-M’s success in securing top in-state talent. Some attribute this variation to the head coach’s recruiting prowess, our on-field success, or the historical relationship between recruits’ high schools and U-M. The table below shows the college destination of top in-state talent by year from 2002 to 2011.
Also, airvipermb quickly profiled three Michigan Pipelines.
Catching Up on Other Sports
: MaizeAndBlueWahoo runs down PORPAG ratings for Big Ten players, plus our guys.
AceUMer gives a preview of the matchup with Michigan State.
UMDrumline does the same for Women's Tennis versus Stanford.
mfan_in_ohio does a good job of updating us on Michigan's current Pairwise situation, and includes an explanation of what that is for those perpetually confused as to how NCAA selects teams and seeds for the tournament.
(Moychendising): MGoShoe dissects the press releases on Michigan's new guru of press releases to try to figure out what the new marketing guy is going to do. Maybe a Dominos-like program of "Hey, we found out we suck; let us show you how we're going to not suck from now on?" Or maybe they'll pull the walls down at the Spring Alumni Game to reveal an actual rematch of 2006 Michigan and 2006 Ohio State? Or maybe Lochman will increase multimedia M brand advertising. Sounds like the latter, dammit.
Drive safe, MGofans. If you're bored and snowed in, why not write a diary?
[We'll always cheer for you, oh Var-si-ty!]
You're back! After a bumpy ride following the Great Burn All of 2011, the diarists of MGoBlog have crawled out from whatever rocks, firewalls, and corporate office policies they were under and returned to populating the area right about THERE---->
with a new crop of 200+ word thoughts. Miracle Planet was right: no matter what you do to the Earth, life will always find a way to survive, repopulate, and thrive again. On the other hand one extinction-level event per billion years is plenty kthx.
In celebration of the return of you, I'm going to give you a break from me and head right into the diaries. Save your "tl;dr"s for next week, 'cause it's a biggun'.
Michigan Men's Football (Varsity)
He works for TomVH. He knows the minds of 2012 recruits before they do. He was front-paged twice in successive weeks, and is your Diarist of the Week. Meet (you've met him already) JC3, who provided a fantastic two-part rundown of 2012 prospects.
QBs: Gunner Kiel (IN – pictured right), Rob Gregory (IL)
RBs: William Mahone (OH), Juwan Lewis (MI)
WRs: Aaron Burbridge (MI), Amara Darboh (IA), Stefon Diggs (MD)
TEs: Sam Grant (OH)
Ath: Drake Johnson
OL: Jordan Diamond, Kelby Latta (MI), JJ Denman (PA), Jake Meador (IN), Caleb Stacey (OH), and Ben Bradem (MI)
S's: Bam Bradley (OH), Deshaun Hall (OH)
LBs: Royce Jenkins-Stone (MI), Laron Taylor (MI)
DTs: Vincent Valentine (IL), Danny O'Brien (MI), Matthew Godin (MI)
DEs: Evan Winston (MI), Tom Strobel (OH), Chris Wormley (OH)
If you missed the articles, get your 2012 stalker on now and hit those up. Also: use the comments below to pick your favorite name from above. I can't decide between a quarterback named Gunner and a safety named Bam. Can I have them both?
Also in things you must read if you're a Michigan football fan already thinking about 2012 is umhero's awesome "Roster Balance and the 2012 Class." This hero broke down the dispersion of talent (by eligibility) on the current M roster and compared it with an ideal 85-man breakdown, showing very clearly where our recruiting needs and soft spots are. A sample:
Yes, not kidding, that awesome…like that-screen-you-always-have-to-keep-checking-when-you're-doing-offseason-recruiting-in-EA-Sports-NCAA-Football-[One-Year-in-the-Future] awesome (or at least you did when it was 55 men –signed, guy who keeps going back to 2004 whenever the latest gets too frustrating).
In more general football discussion, the oversigning issue that's now old news at this blog is generating more traction in the news that's not this blog, and in the diaries section, which is this blog reflected. The one to read is JeepinBen's explanation of the difference between a Medical Redshirt and a Medical Exemption. The other one is Zone Left's proposal to stop oversigning by…um…letting kids transfer? You know what: let him explain.
Football etc.: The_Knowledge stopped by to look back in time at The Process, which depending on how far into the future he's from, could mean he's looking back into history, or looking back into a less distant future, or look into the present. One thing's for certain: in the future, people really don't know shit about early 21st century Michigan football.
Michigan Men's Basketball (Varsity)
Beating the Spartans during their Year of Infinite Pain if Spartans Felt Pain felt really damn good. Continuing to beat Big Ten teams since is making the Crisler bandwagoners like me (apologies to any long-sufferers I'm crowding) jump back on board for the ride. Of course, it's hard not to be a cagers junkie once the MGoDiarists have at it. For example, I must now watch basketball because I know things about PORPAG:
A cursory glance shows what Brian alluded to in the front page post, Darius Morris is the sixth most valuable player offensively in the Big Ten, behind Wisconsin's excellent Jordan Taylor, a future top-5 pick, and three seniors. Another glance shows that Tim Hardaway Jr. is the third-most valuable freshman according to PORPAG, behind Sullinger and Wisconsin's role player, Josh Gasser (this statistic loves the Badgers, they have the 1st, 2nd, 14th, 25th, 34th, and 39th best PORPAG players, part of this is probably due to the slow deliberate pace at which they play, and the fact that everyone's non-conference schedule is included in this compilation of this stat, so a team like Wisconsin would be given an advantage over a team like MSU. Still, Wisconsin's numbers are impressive here, near miss against Iowa notwithstanding).
That's the_white_tiger pouring through basketball sabermetrics and coming back to say we're good at basketball.
Another reason to watch this team: unlike the Ellerbe squads that coincided with my Michigan years, this team is really likeable, from honest and intellectual Coach Beilein to a bunch of names matching my 1992 Donruss cards, to Shoot More On The Run You Cocaine Zombie (third reason: can't let such an awesome mnemonic by antoo go to waste). If PORPAG ain't your bag, Michigania (you're thinking: does he know Dan Glasser?) has a the Cliffs Notes of how this team came together.
Michigan Dancing (March Sport)
Just kidding, it's still hoops. Yes, when the wins start coming, we start thinking maybe possibly there could be a spot for us among the
32, 65, 68, 2.6 million squads invited to the NCAA Tournament. Or even the NIT. Both were out of reach at the start of the year, but you know, we won some games, so we can wonder…
What will it take to make the Dance?
Um, chart guy?
No. Well, yes, I'm normally the bolded subconscious of the main page who asks for charts at the end of bad UFRs, but this time I was just telling you the name of 2012's article.
That's what I'm trying to find out.
That's the name of his diary.
2012: What will it take to make the Dance?
Who's talking about the dance in 2012?
Aw, forget it…chart?
As of now the first two are taken care of, but those were the easiest. From here, hoops needs to win 3/5 out of @Ill, @Iowa, Wisconsin, @Minn, MSU. Kenpom has us favored in only one of those games, that being Michigan State's season-ending visit to Crisler (and MSU is in a statistical trough right now that's probably not sustainable). Signs point to this simply being basketball's version of the week after we beat Purdue last year, with Wisconsin and Ohio State on the horizon. But hope springs eternal.
If you'd rather skip to the end of the story, Blazefire has provided a glimpse into the Headlines of the Future. Let's hope his future has more accurate accounts of contemporary Michigan athletics than that of The_Knowledge.
Michigan Women's Softball (Varsity)
Looking for a Michigan sport that won't make you drink and do nasty things to your head? Want a pastime where Michigan just dominates, reloads, and dominates again, all while showing such exuberance and joy in their sport? Is Misopogon trying to screw with you with all of these rhetorical questions just so he can say "broomball" or something when there's two softball pictures above?
But man you're still going to love our softball team, as only South Bend Wolverine can bring it to you.
Last year, Dorian Shaw lead the way for Michigan in the home-run department, going deep 21 times. One of those shots broke the letter A on the now-rechristened "lumni Field" scoreboard. And while Nemitz was the senior pitcher on staff, Taylor led the way for much of the year, going 26-4 with an ERA of 1.44. The highlight of her year came in April when, on the 10th she tossed 5 perfect innings as Michigan mercy-ruled Minnesota 9-0. Not two weeks later, Taylor was on the mount again, and once again was perfect through 5, as UM mercy-ruled PSU 8-0.
All you need to know is Michigan mercy-ruled 19 games last year out of 57 played. Let me rephrase: a full third of the Softball team's games ended with the Wolverines winning by so much so early the other team cried uncle (actually, it's a rule, but still!). The girls also beat Ohio State in football, shut out the Packers in Green Bay, and brokered an intergalactic peace treaty with Zoltan's space empire. Taylor and slugger Dorian Shaw are both pre-season player of the year candidates, and either is likely to beat out Denard for the Heisman.
The ladies won their first two games of this season – the first in a mercy – this weekend.
Michigan Men's Ice Hockey (Varsity)
Unfortunately nobody wrote a diary about the hockey guys. But then no other Michigan sport, varsity or otherwise, swept Ohio this weekend. This was utterly necessary. Also: mmmm beating Ohio State at things: this be a wonderful Valentine's gift, si Caporusso?
Two wins against Ohio State in two nights – thanks, Louie, it's just what I wanted!
Michigan Men's Aerial Flyovers (Club?)
So the story goes, Orson of EDSBS, styling himself Earl of Blogville, found a form for requesting a flyover for his son's 1st birthday.
So of course some Michigan fan who has to actually answer such paperwork all the time is going to come along and write a Diary about how he's doing it all wrong. Follow Zone Left, not Orson, if you are serious about getting one of our military's planes to buzz your locale. Please coordinate with me before planning anything…Zone Left, the paperwork should be on its way, along with a million gajillion MGoPoints to cover any expenses.
Michigan Men's Wrestling (Varsity)
…is really good this year we hear. AceUMer has a loooooong diary that breaks down every match. The Wolverines went into this weekend with a lot of promise, but Iowa can scrap, man. The full preview is worth checking out.
Michigan Paintball (Club)
What's awesome is he named the one on the right "Crippleboy.jpg"
I am 100% not kidding. There's a diary (again) this week on our Paintball team. In fact, it's a really long diary: a 1,700 words-long diary. And it's also really interesting, with detailed rundowns of each game from Michigan's latest tournament. Our paintballers even got their own Angry Michigan [Position] Hating God when the "Snake" position claimed both the team's best player, and then subsequently its captain. Can they recover from such devastating blows and fight their way back to win the match that gets them to the Championship round? Nope. They totally lost that game.
Michigan Water Polo
It's on the board.
People, this athletic department is huge! No wonder Brandon didn't have time to interview more than one candidate –ZING!
Michigan Bloggers Etc.
I don't quite know what to make of J.Swift's humor piece where Wiki-Leaks supposedly turns up dirt on The Process in Wyoming and it's…poetry?
I do, however, know what to make of this from-the-board parody of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by MGoBLueForLife. I'm re-naming it "The Wreck of the R.R. Fitzgerald" because 39 people apparently read the name of the post and figured it was an attack on our former coach. It's not – as the 33 people who read it can attest it is a work of brilliant entertainment that captures the fan experience of spending the last three years aboard a high-tech vessel (that did have some flaws) that was wrecked by an indomitable shitstorm. Bonus: I crap on the SEC in the comments.
(LONG … LEWAN)
Last October, in an effort to get a better handle on what our starting defense looked like compared to past defenses, I put together a depth chart-long “You Might Remember Our Starters from Such Players As…” comparison…thingy. At the time people requested a second version for the offense, but I figured what’s the point? The active period I was pulling YMRMFSPAs was ’96 to ’07, when the offense was substantially different that that of 2010.
Well now that’s changed, and other than talk about the Class of ’11 recruits (about which among the MGoTeam I’m the least qualified) we’re in a dead period where there’s not a lot to muse upon. On the other hand, finding comparisons among the DeBord/Malone band of Daves (Pearson, Baas, Petruziello) for a roster generated in three years of heavy Rodriguization is going to lead to some very non apple-y conclusions. I’m going to need some help in the comments for nominees before I put that together. For now, here’s a projected depth chart:
(Returning starters in bold, * means redshirt, all images courtesy of MGoBlue.com.)
|Quarterback||Tailback (Speed)||Tailback (Rage)||Fullback|
Denard Robinson (Jr)
Vincent Smith (Jr)
Stephen Hopkins (So)
John McColgan (Sr*)
|Devin Gardner (Fr*)||
or M. Shaw (Sr),
F. Toussaint (So*)
|Mike Cox (Jr*)||Joey Kerridge (Fr)|
|Left Tackle||Left Guard||Center||Right Guard||Right Tackle|
Taylor Lewan (So*)
Ricky Barnum (Jr*)
David Molk (Sr*)
Patrick Omameh (Jr*)
Mark Huyge (Sr*)
|Mike Schofield (So*)||Rocko Khoury (Jr*)||Christian Pace (Fr*)||/||/|
Note on O-Line: The backup situation is anybody’s guess. This blogger’s guess is that Barnum replaces Schilling, but Khoury is in the mix as well. An injury to either tackle could mean Schofield replaces them or Omameh slides over and a guard moves in. Khoury is probably the first guy in at any guard or center position, and has been a center thus far, but I slid him over only so we could mention Pace.
|X||Y||Z (Slot)||Tight End|
Darryl Stonum (Sr)
Martavious Odoms (Sr)
Roy Roundtree (Jr*)
Kevin Koger (Sr)
|Junior Hemingway (Sr*)||Jeremy Jackson (So), et al.||JeRon Stokes (Jr)||Brandon Moore (Jr*)|
Note on Receivers: I wouldn’t know where to begin if I ran everybody here. Hemingway might as well be a starter too. I’m basing this off of the concept of the 2003-’07 three-wide offense but chances of this being the depth chart are slim. Left out are Kelvin Grady, Terrence Robinson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, D.J. Williamson, Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, any of whom could play this year.
We’ll get to candidates in a moment. Before that, though, let’s just sit back and enjoy something here: this is the best-looking offensive depth chart we have seen since 2000. Better than 2007, since there aren’t any Mitchells, Ciullas, or freshman Borens and Schillings anywhere to be found. Not to sound too Jacksonian, but the best way to describe this depth chart is 2003, only faster.
…and a hell of a lot smaller.
This roster is pretty much the exact opposite of the 2010 defensive depth chart, and likewise the exact opposite of the 2008 offensive depth chart, and likewise the exact opposite that day your favorite pet died. There are longtime returning starters and upperclassmen who have played at a high level all over the place, from the stocked receiver corps to the junior quarterback who spent the first half of his first year starting as the presumptive Heisman frontrunner.
The Possibly Depressing Thing: Rich Rodriguez and Calvin Magee spent three years finding all of these round pegs to fit his offense’s round holes. The stupid but ultimately irrepressible meme of the 2008 offense was that Rich Rod was trying to play an offense that didn’t match the talent. That was true for the Loeffler-ish quarterbacks* but nobody else – we are talking about a team playing a total of one guy (Greg Mathews) at the same position he had occupied the previous year.
* That means Threet and Cone; I really don’t want to get into Mallett again here.
Let’s examine those round pegs, and the concerns they present:
The O-Line Are a Bunch of Zone Pansies
Borges says he plans to run an offense that best fits the talent on hand. On the other hand, Brady Hoke seems to favor man blocking over zone (a meme based mostly on a San Diego columnist that (the meme) makes user S.G. Rice go “ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH”). Hoke’s disdain for the spread is probably overblown (and the suggestion he means to make us into Wisconsin even more so), but neither does anyone think he’s planning to run the spread ’n shred. Which means that to a degree, these players may have some edges exposed when they’re inserted into square-ier holes. That starts on the offensive line, where the last transition didn’t go so well.
The story of the 2008 offensive line was the coaching staff being so desperate to sit McAvoy they inserted a fall position switch DT at guard, and Angry Michigan Offensive Line Hating God parrying with successive injuries to Zirbel, Huyge, Schilling, Dorrestein, Molk, and several lawn chairs before Rodriguez/Magee/Frey finally cried uncle.
Brian said this in the 2008 preview when the position’s Angry Hating God was just getting underway:
“The line took a hit it could not afford to sustain when certain starter and once upon a time touted recruit Cory Zirbel went down with a knee injury, forcing either David Molk or hastily converted defensive lineman John Ferrara into the starting lineup. Michigan is now one injury away from serious issues indeed.”
…penned a ‘Decline and Fall’ declamation after just one game:
“Blame goes to Carr, who recruited so erratically, Andy Moeller, who was the line coach, Rodriguez, who has no family values, and whoever was identifying linemen to go after. To me this list goes “miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, Schilling maybe, miss, miss, miss, miss, guys Moeller couldn’t destroy.”
…and in the position’s post-mortem, gave a positive review to all of one guy on the entire unit: redshirt freshman David Molk. That’s the same David Molk who will be your 5th year senior, 4th year starting center this year. The other guy who showed promise on the field in ’08: Huyge, who four years later (and with no discernible regression) is projected to be either our worst offensive lineman, or backup to a hyped redshirt sophomore whose time has come.
Molk and Huyge were the first two guys recruited when Carr took us to zone blocking. Molk especially turned out to be great at using his agility to open up the Spread ‘n Shred. He has come a long way from the time Penn State linemen were picking him up and depositing him in the backfield. Huyge at tackle has been just a guy. To them have been added Omameh, who struggled inside at times as a redshirt sophomore but has a true knack for knocking defenders’ heads together on the 2nd level; and Taylor Lewan, now entering his (RS) sophomore season, who claims to be a clone of Jake Long and just might be. Ricky Barnum, who saw some playing time last year, is probably the guy who most looks like a typical Hoke blocker, but his recruiting pedigree said agility. The staff kept after Rod’s similar recruits. Guys, I don’t think this is becoming the Wisconsin line, or at least it isn’t this year.
The Wisconsin game last year might be instructive, since RR ran a more “nose to nose” blocking. If you’ve suppressed that game from memory, here’s how the blocking turned out:
|Huyge||2.5||0||2.5||Run game seemed to tilt the other way.|
|Molk||7||1||6||No reaches but some good blocks otherwise.|
|Omameh||10.5||3||7.5||Surprisingly the focus of the run game. Executed a lot of grinding double teams.|
|Koger||2||2||0||Also the usual.|
|TOTAL||33.5||23||20.5||Solid blocking day.|
You can open your eyes now. Look up…yeah, see? “Solid blocking day.” The worst guy was Dorrestein, who’s now gone. Lewan didn’t play, and this we said was bad. Note Omameh’s “executed a lot of grinding double teams” and Molk’s “7-1-6” day without any of his signature reaches.
Denard Isn’t Built for This Offense
The tea leaves (important: at this point all we have to go on is tea leaves, which are nearer in predictive accuracy to banana peels than facts) suggest the plan to deploy Denard is something between Frank Beamer’s use of Michael Vick, and “run around and stuff.” The upside might be something akin to 2006 Ohio State, when diminutive Troy Smith won the Heisman on lucky, back-shoulder tosses to guys better than Junior Hemingway but not that much better. Among the weaker points in Denard’s game:
- Accuracy? I went back to the formula I used for Data-Mining the HenneChart, an early 2009 “Wow Tate” piece that might give some perspective. I didn’t want to go over the whole thing again, but I plugged Denard’s 2010 season through Wisconsin (last game UFR-ed) and tried to pull some useful things out of it. Results:
Per 100 Attempts:
|Quarterback (Year)||Dead-On||Catchable||Marginal||Incomplete||Bad Read|
Sorry I didn’t include 2009 – I only have partial info for that. The star is because Brian didn’t chart marginals before 2008. The thing to notice is that out of 100 throws, the Incompletes for Denard were really low – closer to Henne’s best year. Those are given out for winging uncatchable passes. Also the bad reads are spectacularly low, almost as good as Henne’s senior year. At this point, however, you are screaming at me because “threw two steps behind his receivers in end-zone to cue Day of the Jugalos.” From that UFR:
That success rate has to be wrong.
It's not wrong, it just doesn't weight passes based on how damaging the particular inaccurate ball is. Against MSU, Denard threw the following balls not to his receiver:
- Endzone interception #1 on route Roundtree had two steps on. [Zero points]
- Wide open Stonum on fly route about 20 yards downfield that's airmailed. [Three points]
- Hitch to Odoms on second and nine from the 11 that would have been first and goal. [Zero points]
- Endzone interception #2 on slant that Hemingway was open on. [Zero points]
- Covered slant zinged over Grady [Zero points]
- Bubble too far in front of Roundtree. [Seven points]
- Other interception on route where Grady had plenty of room to the inside of the field but the ball was way, way too far outside, allowing sinking corner to react and intercept. [Zero points]
How big of a deal is it to throw a bubble screen a step in front of a receiver? One unit of big deal. How big of a deal is it to throw a makeable 20 yard touchdown over someone's head on third and three? Two, three units of big deal. How big of a deal is it to throw endzone interceptions when you have open receivers? Five units of big deal.
The reason the rate is the rate is because a bad pass is a bad pass; in reviewing a performance we're trying to strip out the emotion from the game and use it as a predictive measure. If Robinson had thrown those balls out of the endzone instead of behind the receivers Michigan would have had maybe seven more points but the QB play would have been equivalent.
- So continuing with this bullet, there isn’t evidence that Denard is inaccurate. On the contrary, he’s among the most accurate passers we have had in the UFR era. I would suggest that fear of Denard’s legs make his reads a lot easier, but then again, they’re his legs. When I run the rest of the metrics from ‘Data-Mining’ Denard jumps out as Michigan’s best passing quarterback by far, with attempts comparable to a full Henne year. That threat isn’t taken away unless Borges trains him to sit in the pocket with timer like Henne – and no, he’s not going to do that.
- Scrambling. Through Wisconsin Denard had four charted scrambles. Most of the time he kept the play alive and looked downfield. Often this led to bouts of, to paraphrase something I’m sure Brian wrote, “Run! Run! Run Damn You!” [Faerie Magic] “YAY!” It’s hard to complain too much when this ends with Junior Hemingway dipsying around four Illinois defenders at the sideline for an unlikely touchdown, but maddening nonetheless. Perhaps if he’s not counted on to run the ball as much, plus with another year of experience, Denard will take greater advantage of his speed when the holes are there.
- Size. Yes. I ended up talking myself out of the first two pretty handily but that ends here. This is Denard’s problem, and it will be more of Denard’s problem in a West Coast offense, because he starts his sidearm-y throws a good foot below where the tropospheric statues of yore released the ball. This is why passes zinged over wide open Stonum 20 yards downfield when pressure broke through. It’s also probably why Robinson’s dilithium seemed to get diluted later in the year, as his small frame took pounding after pounding. He’s a tough sonofabitch, but also took a lot of shots to his throwing shoulder from other tough sonsofbitches.
The Receivers Are Too Small
A few years ago, I suggested Rodriguez’s secret plot to develop a vertical game. A lot of attrition followed, but then were replaced by plenty of targets, meaning whatever Rich Rod was up to, he didn’t just stock the cupboard, but filled an entire larder. The concern, of course, is that he stocked it with lots of smurfs on jetpacks, or slot ninjas, or midgets on rollerskates, or pick your trochee-containing metaphor. Let me show you something:
The right side is Michigan’s projected 2011 depth chart:
As for the left side, it’s the Top 13 receivers in FCS last year by total yards:
|6'1||207||Greg Salas, Hawaii|
|6'1||205||Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.|
|5'11||183||Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma|
|6'4||233||Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina|
|6'1||215||Jordan White, Western Mich.|
|6'0||195||Vincent Brown, San Diego St.|
|5'11||205||Kealoha Pilares, Hawaii|
|5'10||178||Aldrick Robinson, SMU|
|6'4||210||Juron Criner, Arizona|
|6'2||205||DeMarco Sampson, San Diego St.|
|5'11||170||Titus Young, Boise St.|
|6'3||205||Leonard Hankerson, Miami (FL)|
|5'10||186||Cody Wilson, Central Mich.|
They’re a bit bigger and taller than our depth chart, especially as you get lower, but remember most of them are upperclassmen, and they were the most productive receivers in the game – our freshmen and their 2010 weights shouldn’t even be that close. And in case you’re wondering if these guys are the results of wily Air Raid systems, two I’ve highlighted played for Brady Hoke and Al Borges at S.D. State last year, and might as well have been less heralded versions of Stonum and Hemingway (except smaller, and not as fast, and against WAC corners).
The tall guys like Jackson, Ricardo Miller and Hemingway should do just fine. As for the tweeners -Stonum, Roundtree, Stokes, D.J. Williamson and J.Robinson – they’re certainly within the size range of successful NCAA receivers at any school.
Among our roster players, only the bugs recruited for slot ninja will lose some value because they “don’t fit the scheme.” That means Gallon, Dileo, Kelvin Grady and Terrence Robinson won’t be as effective in an offense not designed to get them in space, unless, say Gallon, can become the kind of deep threat that forces corners into giving ground for the West Coast’s beloved stop and out routes (Grady and Robinson probably are what they are now). Odoms could be in that group too, but his effectiveness last year as an outside receiver makes me think he can thrive as that rare small guy (obvious analogue not mentioned due to Ohio State connection) in a red light/green light possession role – his downfield blocking is an unquestionable asset.
All told, this looks like a great offense no matter the scheme. Obviously they’re used to the spread ’n shred, but it’s not like taking Northwestern and suddenly asking them to play Bielema Ball. This is the opposite of 2008: If they can’t score next year, it’s on the coaching staff.
The good folks are still coming out of their holes after the site attack: there are four over the last two weeks and they’re all still on the sidebar, and as I’m writing this I’ve already missed most of a half of the Superbowl. Read all of them. I’m going to roll those into the next one for “of the week” purposes.
See You in Washington, Mr. President.
Congratulations on your Superbowl ring, Heisman Winner, Champion, Wolverine.