Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Injuries and Actual News
Multiple guys had headaches, their status is unknown until he talks to the doctors. Not sure about Stonum - he'll try to run around a bit the next couple days [but is in a boot].Gallon's shoulder will have to progress.
"Mike [Martin] should be OK. He'll be a little limited probably, he and Jonas [Mouton] both." Martin is the most dominant defensive player when he's healthy. "When we've got a healthy Mike Martin in there, it's different for us... He's one of those guys that can stand up to anybody." He gets treatment every morning, but he still won't be 100% this game - maybe by the bowl game.
Special teams have been pretty good outside of the inability to make a field goal. Drew Dileo and Fitz Toussaint will do more returning with the injuries to other guys. Fitz was on returns for the first time all year against Wisconsin because they were running out of capable bodies. "I think he's still getting back into the groove. There's so much time, it's like starting all over again. I think you'll more likely see him more often this weekend."
Kickers - "Seth had a great week of practice then he missed the one... Brendan kicked the extra points, but they were low, so we're lucky they weren't blocked." Nothing looks wrong with Seth's form, so it may be mental.
"Hopefully Vincent's OK." He's been the #1 RB, but Stephen Hopkins, Fitz Toussaint, and Mike Shaw should be good to practice all this week.
"It's looking that way" for a medical redshirt for Devin Gardner. Muscular issue in his lower back, probably won't require surgery.
Wisconsin accusations: "Playing dirty? That's funny." Must have been looking for something controversial.
Rodriguez has played during Thanksgiving week in the past. "The routine really pretty much stays the same." Most teams are still playing this week.
Personnel and Team
Denard - "For a first-year starter, he's had a pretty remarkable year." Hasn't looked as young as his age a lot of the time. Very committed to improving his game, understanding everything better. Not worried about postseason awards "I don't think we have to trumpet anything." On top of the numbers, Denard's taken a bigger leadership role, he loves his teammates. "He's got the type of personality that you wanna be around."
Scrutiny in the media might have changed with bowl eligibility, but the attitude inside the program is no different. "We've kinda had to take a tunnel-vision type of approach as a staff, and as a team, and as a program." The focus can't change because of outside perception. Sometimes stuff is falsely reported - and being a coach is like being a politician in that way.
"I didn't get this job at Michigan by getting a lottery ticket that said 'congratulations, you're the coach at Michigan.'" There's more to building a program than what's written in the media. Some circumstances may come up altering timeframe, for better or worse. "Close in some areas, but still a ways away in others." Rodriguez is still positive that they'll get to where they want to be - he sees the progress. "It's sooner rather than later, but it's not overnight."
The program has come a long way offensively since last these teams played, not as much progress on D. "A lot of the other thing that I've seen that's maybe not shown on the field as much, I think has come a long way."
The perception that teams with spread offenses have poor defenses is incorrect. Northwestern won a Big Ten title with the spread, Florida and Oklahoma won national titles running a spread. West Virginia had top-10 defenses when Rich was there. "It was probably doubts because people just wanna doubt. There's a faction of them that love being negative." Way too much is made about running schemes. The execution, players, etc. are more important.
Have to continue doing some things well, and improve the areas in which they haven't done well. "It's a game that's easy emotionally to get your guys focused for." Need to worry about execution. "Defensively, we've gotta make some stops, it's as simple as that." You can make some steps during the season, but the D won't improve exponentially in, say 4 weeks.
The defense isn't just one thing, there have been different issues each year. "There's no question that it needs to get fixed." Getting healthy, recruiting, development, putting them in position to succeed. "We've gotta look at everything, just like we would on offense." Team will naturally improve next year with experience, it's just a matter of maximizing that improvement.
"I've seen us play outstanding football in all three phases at times." Been more consistent on offense, and if the defense grows up and a few things bounce their way, it's a winnable game. Last year, they played well defensively but the offense turned it over too many times. "The situation was right us to maybe sneak one out there." but they missed opportunities to make plays.
Jordan Kovacs has been one of the D's most solid players. Kevin Koger has been splitting time with Webb at TE. Those two will be some of the team's greatest leaders next year.
The offense has stayed healthier, the defense has been ravaged by injuries. The freshmen who are playing would normally be redshirted.
"First off, it means a lot because it's Michigan-Ohio State." Means a lot to the seniors. "This would be something for them to remember quite fondly." Ohio State may have at stake from a conference championship standpoint, but the game is important on its own merits either way. "We do a few special things different for Ohio State week."
Great for fans, seniors, coaches, families. "I don't think about the end result right now, winning or losing. Right now, I want my players, and my coaches, and myself, we're thinking about the process." Want to focus on what they need to do to achieve the end result, not the result itself.
"I don't think about point spreads. When I came to Michigan I thought about winning championships."
Slow starts in past few games haven't been the same cause, sometimes a turnover, bogged down in the redzone, etc. "I'll study all of that after the season and see if there's something that will help our guys get out of the gate faster."
Pryor - improved understanding of the offense, runs when he has to. "He's a great athlete, I think there's no question he's the leader of that offensive unit, and he's made a lot of big plays for them."
The Ohio State OL is good, tailback position is talented, Dane Sanzenbacher is one of the best WRs in the country. Best corner pair in the league, LBs as good as anybody - and they gave Michigan lots of trouble last year, especially Brian Rolle.
OL - "We didn't play as well up front last week on the edges as we have been." JJ Watt's talent had something to do with the struggles, and the guys know they'll have another challenge this week with Cameron Heyward and John Simon.
Ohio Stadium is a challenge, but the quality of the team is daunting itself. "As far as intensity level and all that, it will be unparalleled." History, intensity, make this the greatest rivalry in sports. "It's hard to match the intensity of this one." Playing at OSU will be loud, as Penn State was. Communication issues come with offensive guys, so the youth on defense hopefully won't be too affected by the road atmosphere. Last time at OSU, saw some stuff, old ladies giving the bird, but that wasn't anything new. "Playing with Pitt, we saw whole families of them."
"We're not practicing and going down there with the intention of 'let's just show up and see what happens.' We're going down there to battle our tails off and try to get the win."
"We don't talk about the past and what's happened last year, 3 years ago, 5 years ago, but you want to be able to have it on your resume that you beat Ohio State if you played at Michigan." Greatest rivalry in college sports "for us, we've gotta perform better and get some wins to make us feel better, make our fans feel better."
Even if you fall behind, the team should have enough confidence that they can make a comeback. "It certainly will help the atmosphere so to speak if we can at least get off to a better start offensively."
Might the coaches take more chances on offense or special teams to cover for the weak defense? "If I did think that, would it make any sense to tell you? Probably not. We'll probably punt on third down."
out of date
HAI GUYS I BET YOU LIKE GOOD NEWS. Troy Woolfolk's twitter:
Things just got worse for Michigan fans. Can't elaborate that's all I'm saying.
UMGoBlog's got a rumor that this is in reference to JT Floyd's ankle, supposedly in a nonfunctional state after practice today. Tom got an independently sourced email saying the same thing. Player on team saying bad news + two different sources with identical stories about what that bad news is == 99% true e-rumor.
So JT Floyd is probably done for the year. One of three freshman will start opposite James Rogers. I'm working my way through the Penn State game tape and am not sure how much this actually hurts but it's not good. Your available non-freshman cornerback on the roster is James Rogers. That is all.
UPDATE: Woolfolk is hurriedly backtracking, which may be CYA but may not. Downgrade your likelihood somewhat here. I probably wouldn't have posted this without that third bit but the two standing are melding with other stuff around the internets and this is still likely to be true.
UPDATE II: So the "out for year" bit seems unknown. Definitely out for Saturday, though.
Right: Marvin Robinson moves from safety to
No surprises, and no Denard:
University of Michigan Football Injury Report
Thursday, Oct. 28, vs. Penn State
OUT (0% PLAY)
Jones, Mike Leg
Odoms, Martavious Foot
Toussaint, Fitzgerald Shoulder
Van Slyke, Jared Clavicle
Williams, Mike Head
Woolfolk, Troy Ankle
More interestingly, Rodriguez dropped some science about position switches on his coaches show that is either earth-shaking or wildly misinterpreted by the internet. These are the supposed moves via the somewhat confused twitter feed of Angelique Chengelis:
- Marvin Robinson to linebacker. I have a source who tipped me off about this a few days ago, so that's for real. Robinson's likely to compete at WLB for the job Mouton vacates after the year.
- Will Campbell(OG) and Quinton Washington(DT) are sticking at their new positions. Since these moves had already been confirmed, that's legit, too. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but there's some insider hype about Washington being a "beast" on Rivals. So we've got that going for us. Not likely to impact anything until next year unless Washington is a miraculously fast learner.
- Cam Gordon to "both safety spots" and Ray Vinopal to "deep safety". Since Vinopal is already a free safety this position switch is more a depth chart thing. There have been rumors floating around about Vinopal playing with the ones and either starting (fanciful) or getting real playing time (apparently likely) on Saturday. These are confirmed now; the source also dropped that Vinopal was getting a serious look at deep safety. The Cam Gordon bit there presages a move closer to the LOS, whether it's spur or bandit, eventually. (ATTENTION BYRON MOORE: duuuude. Seriously.)
- They "moved defensive linemen." Vague but the only thing that makes sense here is putting Sagesse back inside at NT and moving Patterson to a backup DE position.
Also, Rodriguez promised more carries for ham fiend Stephen Hopkins and said Teric Jones(!) would see the field. I looked for podcasts on WTKA's site but couldn't find them; maybe MVictors will be able to dig out exactly what was said so we can parse that into molecules. He's clutch like that.
The heat melts their brains. Miami fans are trolls:
You've got me there, Jim Martz.
(Via Jerry Hinnen.)
Further adventures in Remember When Smoking Was Cool And Pregnancy Drankin' jes' fine. Les Miles has done all manner of disqualifying things since the Kirk Herbstreit Miles Hiring Fiasco, before which I was highly in favor of Miles as Michigan's coach and after which I was very upset at Bill Martin. He derped the Ole Miss game and lied about it afterwards. He cut some kid who'd been on campus for a month. Whatever the hell that was at the end of the Tennessee game happened.
Miles is now in the radioactive bin of hypothetical Michigan coaching candidates next to Ron English, Mike DeBord, and Stan Parrish. I'd rather have Brady Hoke around. And yet somehow this is the worst thing he's done since that fateful day on a sailboat:
I'd rather see Simon Cowell as head coach around here.
Quarterback ding monitor. So you may have noticed that three Penn State quarterbacks wandered around the field asking for direction/pudding from the coaches in their win over Minnesota. This is because starter Robert Bolden left the game with "a cut hand" or "a cut hand and an eye poke" or "concussion-like symptoms" or, you know, a concussion. JoePa thought Bolden was questionable at best for next week; JayPa thought he was fine. JayPa's probably right since someone asked Joe about Kevin Newsome and he said "who?" I wouldn't put much stock in this "McGloin might start" headline from the Post-Gazette since it's generic walk-on fluff and the only mention of the injury is this:
Bolden was expected to undergo a series of medical tests Sunday, but Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson said Bolden's status would not be updated until today at the earliest. If Bolden is unable to play Saturday night at home against Michigan on ESPN, McGloin could get his first career start.
I'm guessing Bolden starts.
Meanwhile at Purdue things just keep getting worse. Third-stringer Rob Henry acquired a "crushed index finger" against Ohio State and Boiled Sports believes that means true freshman Sean Robinson will end up starting when Purdue takes on Illinois next week.
Penn State confidence monitor. They didn't lose against Minnesota but they did get outgained by 70 yards and cough up 400 yards of offense to a team headed for 1-11, so reviews are negative:
-- Penn State made Gopher running back DeLeon Eskridge look like Barry Sanders out there. The Lions missed so many tackles I thought they must have brought the wrong shoes. … -- Lion defense just has no playmakers. … -- In fact, until the fourth quarter, Penn State had precious little success running the ball against a defense ranked 102nd in the nation against the run. Unimaginable, really. … -- Minnesota's 75-yard TD drive to start the second half was so easy I thought I was watching the New Orleans Saints shred the Penn State defense. Very, very scary, folks.
This was a win, but no one was impressed. The line swung from M +2.5 to M –3 based on it, though it's gotten bet back down some since.
It's not that timeout, it's that you still had it. Back to the hat: many people are pointing at Kirk Ferentz going "Les Miles!" in the same manner you would scream "witch!" during a good hysterical mass hallucination after Iowa biffed its clock management good in their 31-30 loss to Wisconsin. Cue defense from Ferentz:
"We wanted to burn the timeout and just go from there," Ferentz said. "I guess we could have gone the other way. Might have saved us two seconds, something like that. I don't think that was exactly the turning point in the game."
Cue Hat reference:
Les Miles might agree.
Iowa fans probably won't.
Ferentz is right—taking the timeout there is not a major factor. But he's not off the hook because he made the most frustrating error coaches make these days now that they don't punt from the opponent's 34 (HINT, NORTHWESTERN): he didn't immediately start calling timeouts when Wisconsin made it first and goal. If Iowa has 40 seconds instead of 12 when the spike/timeout decision is made it's not nearly as big a deal. Always, always get rid of your timeouts on defense if given the opportunity—you will never save more time by holding them.
No, still a punk. In the weeks before the season Ohio State teammate Tyler Moeller said Terrelle Pryor was "kind of a punk" by way of explaining that he was no longer the kind of guy who puts "VICK 3:16" on his eyeblack or talks about how everybody steals from people, murders from people, whatever. Pryor should ban the word "everybody" from his vocabulary:
“Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all – I really don’t want it to come off like this – but they weren’t better than us,” he said. “Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we’d beat Wisconsin.”
Pryor stats: 14/28, 156 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 56 yards rushing on 18 carries. Final score: Wisconsin by 13. I'm sure Michigan would have been better off the last few years with Pryor behind center but right now I'm happy Michigan missed on an unlikeable guy who's not living up to his athletic potential.
The unabated stupidity. Richard Billingsley's computer rankings are even more off the chain than usual this week:
His ballot does not disappoint this week, ranking TCU at No. 1 (three spots higher than any other computer poll) and Missouri at No. 10 -- the Tigers' lowest spot in any computer poll by seven and two places below the less Mizzou-friendly humans. …
In fact, the rule that causes the high and low scores for each team to be thrown out might as well be called the Billingsley Rule -- counting ties, Billingsley ranks 17 of the 25 teams higher or lower than any other computer in the BCS, including being the only one to rank Virginia Tech at all.
At least the discard rule does effectively neuter Billingsley's poll. His poll is maybe 20% as impactful as the other four.
Etc.: You think we have problems? Boston College fired a good coach, hired a career assistant in his sixties named Spaz, is 0-4 in the ACC, and has scheduled Vanilla Ice to participate in something called "Ice Jam." Boston College has problems. EBay watch hits up 1976.
Too busy to read the message board? Watch it. So this happened. It is a NSFW postmodern message board conversation verbalized by xtranormal:
Listen to the British woman.
Lord of the flies. An injury update from Penn State has more bad news for the Nittany Lions:
"Latimore, I'd be doubtful if we get anything out of Eric the rest of the year, although he may be ready for a game or two. Crawford has not done anything yet. ... I doubt if he'd be ready this week. Crawford might be ready next week."
That would be Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford, the nominal starting defensive ends. Latimore will be out for Michigan, with Crawford either on the bench or gamely giving it a go. Sean Stanley's status is still up in the air after it was revealed his violation of team rules was a marijuana arrest. He's practicing with the team and I'd be shocked if a simple possession charge would keep Stanley out four games. He's already missed two. Unless there's something else going on he'll probably start in Latimore's place, with either Crawford or unimpressive journeyman Kevion Latham on the other side of the line.
If Michigan held Iowa's DEs in check, the rag-tag PSU DEs shouldn't be a problem. Michigan will have a test against Still and Ogbu on the interior.
Penn State has a bunch of walking wounded they hope to get back for Minnesota; we'll see how many do.
And now a random dumb thing a Penn State blogger said. Take it away, Some Guy At BSD:
I hope that Denard Robinson gets healthy during Michigan's bye week and starts at QB in Happy Valley Halloween weekend. Choir boy / line-dancer Tate Forcier may provide more visual fodder for the blog, but I think he's a bigger threat at QB than Robinson. Denard Robinson can run all over weak competition, but in the Big Ten, where every defense is designed to stop the run, a competent passer like Tate Forcier is actually more deadly.
This is not factually wrong so it's not Fiutakin' it, but good God. This is the worst bit about turning it over seven times in two weeks while racking up 900 yards of total offense against the #28 and #13 defenses in the country:
"It doesn't work in the Big Ten" cannot die soon enough.
This is a disturbing indictment of nothing in particular. Will Campbell is going to get a look at guard:
“He may be better-suited to play guard,” Rodriguez said.
No decision had been made, but Rodriguez said he’d convene with his coaches tonight to discuss possible position changes. …
“He’s not playing much on defense,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if it’s possibly to switch and learn a position that quickly, but we’ll probably talk about him tomorrow. He’s got a good attitude. He’s working hard and is willing to do whatever’s best for the team.”
What does it mean? It means that ESPN was right to be skeptical of Campbell, who has a ridiculous physical package but doesn't play football very well. It was apparent to me the first time he got on the field against Iowa and immediately got gashed; freshman or not the passivity and inability to get under anyone's pads was alarming. This would be no big deal if Michigan had gotten either or both of Pearlie Graves and DeQuinta Jones a couple years ago, but since they whiffed on both the depth chart at DT is thin enough that one guy not working out leaves you a big hole after Martin.
It does not mean that Bruce Tall is an idiot who can't coach—Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen say STFU, please. Also Brandon Graham.
Not their fault, except for that one guy. The BCS computers come in for another round of bashing, this one in the New York Times. At least this time there are quotes from the guys who run the things complaining about the What About The Children decision to remove margin of victory from the metrics. That is a major source of computer rankings DERP. And this is a delightfully blunt assessment of Richard Billingsley:
“I’m not a mathematician,” Billingsley said. “I’m not even a highly educated man, to tell you the truth. I don’t even have a degree. I have a high school education. I never had calculus. I don’t even remember much about algebra. I think everyone questions everything I do. Why is he doing that? Does he know what he’s doing, a crazy kook in Oklahoma?”
The short answer is no. Billingsley’s ranking system is vilified by professional mathematicians and a subculture of amateur computer rankers.
I'm not either but I've already got my vilification in. Any attention Billingsley's inane system gets that might get it booted is welcome. I mean: "It is a simple formula, he said, because he is a simple man." This guy isn't fit to decide what to eat for breakfast, let alone who should be playing in the national title game.
Just a love machine. The MZone highlights a program from 1978 featuring the sex machine that is Mike Gittleson:
You have to admire that dedication to facial hair: 32 years without even thinking about a change. Also, yes, that Jack Harbaugh.
Hail Zoltan! Zoltan just launched the punt of the year, nay the punt of the decade:
During the Patriots OT struggle with the Ravens last Sunday, punter Zoltan Mesko may have made the punt of the year. Facing a 4th and 6 from their own 16, Mekso was called in try to bail out the Patriots.
Typically, punts from that region of the field net about 39 yards, putting the Ravens at their own 45, and it looked like the Ravens were going to win the field position battle. From there, it only takes one or two first downs to move into striking distance for a game winning FG attempt. When Mesko trotted onto the field, the Patriots' win probability (WP) was 0.33.
Mesko’s punt went for 65 yards, aided by wind and by poor fielding by the Ravens returner. When the ball came to rest on the Baltimore 19 yard line, the Patriots had gained the upper hand with a 0.54 WP. The punt was worth +0.21 Win Probability Added (WPA), an impact extremely rare for a punt that neither results in a long return nor a fumble.
Hagerup did something similar—though it wasn't in such a high-leverage situation—when he bombed one past the Iowa returner midway through Saturday's game.
Really? Iowa guy who looks at a lot of film says this:
A couple of times Iowa made good audibles and a couple of others they missed their chance to hit Michigan where it hurt. It definitely seemed the crowd noise was a factor late in this one and it made it hard to change calls at the line. I would guess they'll make some tweaks to their audible calls this week, especially on their scripted series calls.
That would be something close to unprecedented. Woo luxury boxes?
Etc.: Entertaining WSJ piece on alumni cheerleaders focuses on Michigan's homecoming festivities. Hey let's fire Turner Gill already! (Note: it took all of two months for Gill to go from a molder of men to a "Victorian-era" fuddy duddy what with his rules against ladies and cell phones. Rich Rodriguez should start a support group.) Twelve pictures to sum up TRY FIGHT
WIN. One of these five men will be Minnesota's next coach. (HT: Eleven Warriors.)