at least it's not just us?
Well. It's done. This year's edition checks in at 41,191 words. If you had that in the pool, congratulations.
THE STORY: ALL TOGETHER NOW
After a decade trying to find itself, Michigan points itself to the future, united.
Quarterback: I believe in Devin Gardner, so hard.
Running back: Also Fitz Toussaint. Not so much the other veterans, but have I told you about freshmen? They're all right at tailback.
Wide receiver: Yeah, they're short. So? They're damn good.
Tight end and friends: a panoply of blocky-catchy guys featuring one Devin Funchess, larger and ready to bust out.
Offensive line: It's like Ohio: rather good at the edge, increasingly depressing as you approach the center.
Questions and answers: Borges isn't perfect but he's probably good enough; reiterating Gardner squee.
Defensive ends: I do not think Frank Clark is going to be an all-wrecking force. Better, sure.
Defensive tackle: All hail QWASH. Three-tech dodgy, but deep.
Linebacker: If Ryan is Ryan, these guys will be lights out.
Cornerback: War daddy up, Mr. Countess.
Safety: Thomas Gordon, and then… well… hmm.
Questions and answers: Novacs, mitigating that, the importance of hybrid space players, serenity?
Special teams: a major strength if Michigan can just block and cover guys.
Podcast 5.0: Almost two hours of erudite chatter about socialism in the 19th century.
Heuristics and stupid prediction: Turnovers should be much better, only position shifts that are ominous at safety, 10-2 asserted.
Orson's season kickoff: "THE BUSINESS OF PROTECTION."
Holdin' The Rope: "Beginnings"
TEAM SPECIFIC HYPE
College football is a dichotomy of change and sameness. The players turn over at an alarming rate, even the most precocious slipping through our fingers almost before we've met them. But every year there's a Saturday where 110,000 file into a stadium Fielding Yost built, survey their view, hear the band, see the helmets, and think to themselves it's still here. All of it is still here. Thank God.
Life decays us all; the team is forever.
Woody-punchin'. WH provides the 1977 Game, which Michigan wins 14-6. Woody Hayes punches the camera at about 11 minutes:
Griese could be good at the TV. Not that Griese, the other Griese. I'm now holding out vague hopes that we could be getting something a little bit like NFL Matchup out of ESPN's Thursday night CFB preview show:
Griese, Mark May and Scott Van Pelt will preview the weekend's top four or five games.
"I'm going to use game film to illustrate what the keys are to look for," Griese said in a telephone interview."That will be fun for me. I like teaching people about the game."
Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship and then played in the NFL, hopes to exercise his game knowledge from years and years of digesting game film as a player.
"That's where I like to live," Griese said of being a student of football film breakdown. "From people I talk to, there's an insatiable appetite to understand the nuances of football. I don't think there's any better way to understand the game than to watch it, but to watch it in a way that's informed. I want to give people things to watch for that maybe they wouldn't have known to look for, and look at it from an insider's perspective. I want them to watch and at the end hopefully say, 'Brian alerted me to this, and that's what happened in the game.'"
I know, I know, Mark May. You can't have everything. And we have seen technically-minded guys get swallowed up by the great dumbing-down over and over again. Let me have my candle in the wind.
Lacy still extant. Message board trolls started telling folks that Alabama starting tailback Eddie Lacy had torn his ACL and was done for the year, which doesn't appear to be true. He did give his ligaments the business at an inopportune time:
Alabama starting running back Eddie Lacy sprained his ankle and a knee in Saturday's practice.
“Not a serious thing. Probably going to be day to day but probably be a little bit slow next week," coach Nick Saban told AL.com. "I think in five to six days he’ll probably be ready to go.”
And I can't find anything on the internet that confirms anything about the ACL except for the one random guy in the comment section from the mgoboard post.
The sprain was two days ago, so his availability for Michigan is not in question unless a coach is lying about an injury, which is of course totally possible. If Lacy can't go—sigh—Dee Hart, the former Michigan commit, is supposed to take over top duties.
Beard update. Mealer's beard gathers a couple of quality quotes in a Daily article, one from Jeremy Gallon, who is apparently an aficionado:
“He has a face full of straight, perfect, beard hair,” redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon told ESPN. “You don't find that everywhere. I mean, look at it, you can’t even put it into words. It's amazing.”
And the second from Navy SEALs:
When Mealer and 21 other seniors took a trip to Coronado, Calif. for a three-day leadership trip in late May to train with Navy SEALs, he was told by the SEALs that he was sporting a true “Afghanistan beard.”
“We take pride in that,”one of the SEALs told Mealer, he recalled.
But the SEAL left Mealer a stern warning: “If we find out the season comes along and you've shaved that, we’re sending the team after you," he recounted laughing.
Also receiving six points is the Daily staffer who slapped this headline on the story:
Mealer, beard battle for starting spot on offensive line
ESPN gets four for…
Wolverines push follicle limits
…by the way. M-Live gets zero for "Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan's hair is like Clay Matthews, now wants similar game." STEP YOUR BEAR/HAIR HEADLINE GAME UP, MLIVE WOOOOO
Probably the best thing to ever happen in Minnesota. Faint praise, sure, but BHGP's countdown of the top 25 Kirk Ferentz wins hits the top ten with that one time they clinched the Big Ten for the first time in twelve years and tore down the goalposts… at a road game:
There has not been a fan pwnage since that comes close.
This was dumb, but known. The guy who voted Michigan #1 defended himself by saying "I have never heard of this 'defensive line' thing you keep bringing up," but he'd announced he was voting M first a couple months ago, so, like… yeah. It even came with a picture of Ron Zook. I was going to write more about this but then I realized we were talking about a preseason poll and decided not to.
This is dumb, and was not known. Penn Live has various bits from the Posnanski book on Paterno, and one is relevant to your interests:
Following PSU’s controversial 27-25 last-second loss at Michigan in 2005, the Lions’ only blemish on an 11-1 season, Paterno was furious that officials put a few seconds back on the clock, possibly allowing Wolverines QB Chad Henne enough time to throw the game-winning TD pass on the final play. According to Posnanski, Paterno told friends he was considering pulling the Lions out of the Big Ten as a result.
Someone should check to see if there was frequently-used BWI handle that went dark six months ago or so.
The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that Paterno had literally just badgered the refs for two extra seconds on the previous drive—and got them. The one second hanging on the clock at the end of that game was just as much Paterno's as Lloyd's.
This is dumb, and also dumb. Former Spartan Jim Miller thinks there's an RGIII-Kirk Cousins quarterback controversy after Cousins tore up the second half of an NFL preseason game.
Random hype video. A little repetitive, but it serves its purpose:
What a good idea to bring this up again. Appalachian State's coach had a press conference just to talk about the Horror. What a good idea for the person who won that game. I'm just glad we'll never have to think about it aga—
/Ace shows Brian 2014 schedule
/Brian makes thirty-fifth appointment at Lacuna, Inc. since announcement of Horror II
Walking sans canes. Via Tom, here's Brock Mealer walking without assistance:
Etc.: Michigan alumni clubs sing the Victors worldwide. ESPN has a segment on Alabama linebacker play. Corn Nation joins the Big Ten division names boycott. Playoff details sound about like what you would think. UNC is going to go back and find out if their academic fraud is really as bad as all that. UMHoops recaps Mark Donnal's summer.
It's the day before a Michigan football season, so there's an 80% chance you're about to see Bump, Canham, and Bo. Survey says…
…bingo. Three years ago I posted it up to point out just how long it had been since Michigan had to think about who would be its head coach: forty years. They'd secured an A-list candidate but whenever you're trying something new after doing one thing forever, things can go awry. They did—you may have noticed.
I thought about Bump and Bo over the summer when Ramzy at Eleven Warriors took a brief hiatus from ripping Kirk Herbstreit* to survey the new enemy in Ann Arbor. He used a certain picture, which I'll put next to what seems like the most representative image of Rodriguez on the first three pages of a generic image search. I'm not sure what that will be yet. Let's find out:
Slotting the two coaches** into the image above is left as a bloody obvious exercise for the reader.
Hoke may not have a winning record but he's got bravado. That, the knowledge he's not a Super Genius, and his magical intestines plus Denard Robinson is a pretty good start. When Hoke was hired I said "sometimes having an identity feels like having a ceiling," but thanks to Jim Tressel kindly donating his career and most of the meanest kids in Ohio to the cause that ceiling is a lot vaguer than it was in January. Let's go find it. In Pasadena, preferably.
*[Ramzy : Kirk Herbstreit :: Brian : punting from the 34]
THIS CONCLUDES the 2011 edition of the MGoBlog season preview. Every year I tell myself I'm going to get ahead of the curve and start posting these things two weeks before the season; every year something comes up and I spend this week eating microwaved dinners and staying up until 5 AM. At this point it would feel wrong to do it any other way (but I'm definitely doing it some other way next year).
The Story, 2011
- Offensive line: 4.5. Excellent if allowed to zone block, more than two injuries and it's time to panic
- Receivers: average of 3.5. Good depth, few stars, a lot rides on Hemingway.
- Running backs: 3. Six bullets (for now) instead of two; everyone's older.
- Quarterbacks: 5! Denard.
- Offensive questions: Verdict is basically last year's offense minus 5-10 Denard carries per game.
- Secondary: average of 2.5. A little depth, no freshmen, look out for Avery.
- Linebackers: average of 3. Demens bustout.
- Defensive line: average of 4. Top end is sexy except for SDE; depth is precarious.
- Defensive questions: tackling how much the GERG effect can help us. Survey says: lots.
- Special teams: average of 2. Hold on to the damn ball, and kick it between the posts.
- Ace previews Western.
- Stupid predictions: less horrible turnover margin and 8-4.
I would have bumped some fantastic diaries if doing so wouldn't caused everyone's heads to explode with word overload. If you're just dying for 3:30 tomorrow and need more, the Communist Football Almanack finishes in spectacular style, Jamiemac previews Western with prop bets a-plenty, and Michael Scarn drops a personal essay.
Now it's time for a hype video.
Here's to less drinking during UFRs. Go Blue.
Droid app. The MGoDroid app has been tested and has hit the store. That link probably isn't very useful but just search for "MGoDroid" on the app store and lo, it will be there.
PRESS CONFERENCE. Is this the first college football hype video to ever prominently feature a press conference?
I'm thinking yes.
Everybody get a face tattoo. So… Mike Tyson thinks he is you but wants to be Marques Slocum:
Other than his pigeons, he’s had pet tigers over the years. I ask Tyson if he were an animal, what animal would he be?
He looks up at the tinseled ceiling. He scratches his thick neck. “I’d like to be a lion, but I think I’m a wolverine,” he says.
Wolverines: “They’re like big giant rats. They’re about 50 pounds and fearless. They fight to the death. They don’t move fast. They walk slow because they’re not afraid of nothing. That’s how I think. And they can be a little reckless.” But also, he says, “I’d like to be a lion and have lion status: to make other people do my work and get the credit for it.”
This does not qualify as one of the top thousand crazy things Mike Tyson has said, but it does qualify in the top one of weird things he's said about your favorite school's mascot. Mike Tyson, man.
We were like whatever. Denard talking about staying, talking about what his teammates said, talking about oh come on—PREPARE THE FACEPALM:
"They took me in and said, 'Man, look, we're not trying to have the team break up like it did our freshman year,'" Robinson said. "They said, 'We kind of rebelled and it was like whatever.' My teammates, they're like brothers to me, and they were like, 'Stick around. We need you to stay.'"
I hope we learned our lesson about it was like whatever, because the lesson is then you get like whatevered by Toledo argh argh argh.
E-fact: Jerry Kill is a BHGP plant. E-fact for real:
In 28 years as a football coach, Minnesota's Jerry Kill has developed an extreme dislike for unforced errors…. So the first-year Gophers coach set the accountability theme quickly.
Some players have been forced to wear brown jerseys in spring practice with the words “Minnesota Lophers” on the front and “I let my teammates down” on the back.
If that doesn't work he's going to show them Courage Wolf.
This week in the near future of Michigan Stadium. Penn State blog LBU on the PSU facebook page soliciting suggestions for piped in-music:
How about letting the Blue Band play on a more regular basis? You know, because part of what makes a college football atmosphere better than the NFL is that live marching bands provide the soundtrack with their unique fight songs. Words cannot describe how frustrating it is to listen to other college football broadcasts, hear the band play consistently, and then listen to a PSU broadcast and constantly hear Blur's "Song 2" played after every defensive play and "Zombie Nation" after every touchdown while the Blue Band is virtually non-existent. Not that Guido D'Elia or anyone in the Beaver Stadium brass seems to give two shits, though.
This is the inevitable end state once piped in music is permitted. We have already heard "Let the Bodies hit the Floor" like Michigan Stadium is the site of a very special Smackdown taping; Special K will not stop until your spirit is dead. Constant vigilance is required.
This week in the semi-distant future of anywhere but Michigan Stadium. Not that I'm arguing David Brandon should schedule Miami (Not That Miami) instead of doing this…
"We've had some preliminary discussions with Stephen Ross about whether or not it would be possible to come down here [Miami's Generic Corporate Stadium] and play a game," Brandon told the Naples Daily News. "We don't have anything scheduled, but that's something we'd consider because this is an important recruiting area for us, as well."
…but it's frustrating we've devolved college football scheduling to the point that the only things that make sense for big nonconference games are neutral sites. I don't care who or what Michigan hypothetically plays in Florida, it would be a thousand times better to have a home-and-home. I mean, how much more awesome would this upcoming Alabama game be if it was a two-game campus series? Like 250%, easy. I'm insane but I'm not flying to Miami to watch Michigan play a nonconference game.
Orson tattoo suggestions. One: refugees need your help and if Michigan helps the most Orson will write things about how Michigan is awesome. Two: if everyone puts up 50k, Orson gets a tattoo. This should obviously be a portrait of Adrien Karsten doing a black-power salute, his defiant fist gripping a 1040. With like guns and bloody roses ringing it. Now that you've envisioned this you must make it happen.
Of course Manny Diaz likes advanced stats. Bruce Feldman has an Insider article on Manny Diaz($), the former Mississippi State DC who pwned Michigan and hopped to Texas this offseason. I've mentioned more than a few times that Diaz's D does very well in advanced stats, and Diaz himself knows this:
"It is really cool to see how many people who are a lot more intelligent than I am, and who obviously have a fair amount of spare time, are starting to take the game of football and try to really break it down and get under the hood in terms of their analysis," Diaz said. "You see this with college basketball, too. They're not settling for whatever they've been force-fed, either, through mainstream stats or through mainstream media analysis. They're looking to find the story behind the story, and there's really some quality stuff out there. When I have some time, I enjoy looking for this stuff. It's not always some 'A-ha!' like you're at the oracle moment, but it is interesting. There is a lot to this game, and I am constantly fascinated by it."
He pointed Feldman to a post on Bill Connolly's new SBN blog that ranks MSU's D 12th nationally—considerably better than they did in total yardage (49th). He also mentions that red zone percentage is a dumb stat, complains about sacks counting as rush yards, and references the Bulldogs' tremendous luck when it came to fumble recoveries last year. All these things are regular hobby-horses of the stat focused. He's an internet nerd.
There's a lot more that goes into Diaz's success, but I think he's the first coordinator at a major school to advocate advanced stats. College football isn't exactly basketball and their growing Kenpom obsession, but that's a start.
Currently, the NCAA bars companies from using an athlete’s name, image or likeness in advertisements, promotions or other ventures. That would change if the legislation gets passed.
The initial proposal, for instance, would allow game footage of current athletes to appear in TV ads, as long as the ads mention the name of the athlete’s institution. Companies could publicize sales events by saying athletes would be present to sign autographs.
In both cases, the sponsor would benefit from the athlete’s image or presence. The school would benefit with money from the sponsor. The athlete would remain unpaid.
Sam Keller and Ed O'Bannon are currently suing the NCAA for unpaid videogame representations of themselves; this would make the currently wink-wink nudge-nudge system explicit. That can't be legal, right? I mean, you can make guys sign whatever you want but at some point you can't just demand unpaid publicity rights get handed over. Do the guys on the NCAA cover even get paid? Why can they throw Tebow on the front of a box after he's out of eligibility? Amateurism make law explode.
So: I didn't get Paul or anyone clips and thematic instructions in time for a hype video to exist. This is my fault. But the community provides where the blogger does not, in more than one way.
2. Thematically similar, though more NSFW
Next year: less gray, hopefully.
Thanks to MCalibur and ShortsGoBlue, along with everyone who contributes in the diaries, board, and comments. This site would not be the same without you.
This completes the season preview. In case you missed any of it:
Let's play some footbaw.
Relevant site information. The Sporting Blog is no more and has been sold to SB Nation. This is mostly a problem for me when I try to explain what I do to people over 50—before I could just say I write for "the AOL" or "the Sporting News" and that would create flickers of recognition. In other ways it is basically no change. I'll write non-Michigan stuff for SBN, keep the mothership going as it was before, and work on my patient explanations of how you can make a living writing on the internet.
Another thing that is tentatively moving to SBN: the BlogPoll. CBS never did anything with it, shoving it into a corner and studiously ignoring it. At SBN it will get the tech help it needs while still providing yours truly with the same cash flow—zero dollars—it always has.
This has been your meta update.
HYPE VIDEO. Hype video? Hype video.
Geeeeergugh. Darryl Stonum didn't do anything, but after you've picked up a DUI not doing anything becomes a reason to put you in jail. A hearing in which it was determined Stonum did very little of what the court asked him to do as part of his probation saw him spend three days in jail in early June.
Not a big deal in the scheme of things but it's another item on the Stonum dossier that argues against the guy ever living up to his copious recruiting hype. The others are the original DUI and his inability to adjust to deep balls. A large part of succeeding in college football is just doing what you're told to, and Stonum obviously didn't do that over the past year when it came to his DUI.
Old and busted. MCalibur put up a diary a bit back complaining about the NCAA's passer rating, which was calibrated in 1979 to render 100 as the performance of an average quarterback. He sets about recreating the formula based on modern averages, finding 139.2 is the new average and creating some interesting charts along the way that show both separation between three, four, and five star recruits and steady improvement as quarterbacks age:
Four-year starters with five stars are so rare (Henne is one of two in the study) that their numbers were left out.
Then MCalibur re-ranks the QBs with another version of QB rating that doesn't really move anyone around much.
Hondurans love Jonathan Bornstein. They love Michigan about as much when their English teacher is a fan:
Etc.: Holdin' the Rope writes on the Alabama Outback Bowl in 1997, the last game I failed to see live. I remember listening to it on the radio—we did not have cable—and feeling helpless as Michigan flailed its way to defeat. The other game I remember listening to was that Minnesota game in the mid-90s in which they outrushed Michigan by some comical amount and still lost. Different times. More Brock Mealer in the News.