Nagelvoort rides to the rescue
Due to some recording snafus I ended up catching only the final two periods of Friday's game and the third period Saturday, along with the overtimes. Also, the feed FCS picked up looked like an internet stream and it was really hard to figure out who anyone other than Kevin Lohan was even though the announcers tried their damndest to keep us informed. (Seriously, they were great.) I didn't actually see any goals until the Motte winner on Saturday, though I saw replays of some of them. Not enough to write a column, but here are various bullets:
That was probably a good UNH team. The Wildcats were 20-12-7 last year, 13-8-6 in Hockey East, reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament. They lost a couple of their better forwards but returned the vast bulk of their scoring—10 of their top 12—and both goalies. They opened with a solid win over Clarkson in the Icebreaker and then lost 3-2 to Minnesota. By the end of the year that's going to be another quality scalp for Pairwise purposes. Michigan's done a lot of work in just two weeks here.
So far so good for Nagelvoort. Man, when Racine went down with what was obviously a groin issue that I'd be lasts a month or maybe longer (he's definitely out this weekend, and not practicing), dark thoughts flitted through my head. Nagelvoort comes out, my former goalie buddy remarks on how enormous his pads are, and he proceeds to shut UNH out through a rampant third period in which they outshoot Michigan 14-2, with one of those stops an impressive recovery on a penalty shot.
The next night he holds UNH to two goals through an entire game and overtime. Four games in Michigan's save percentage is .937 as a team and Nagelvoort is at .949. Massive sample size disclaimers are of course warranted. It's still the best possible start you could have hoped for minus the Racine injury. Hopefully it keeps up.
Power play: extant. Michigan's 6 of their first 16, a 38% strike rate, and that feels like a sustainable thing since Michigan's been going up against good teams and has been setting up in the zone for extended periods of time. The puck movement is night and day from last year, when their single idea was "get the puck to Trouba." It's too early for me to tell you much else—I get my mind around hockey things slowly.
Recovery. Michigan scrambled their lines for the first time this year after they got pinned in their zone for disturbingly long stretches of the third period on Friday night. They ended up getting outshot nearly 2 to 1 and that was a fair reflection of the play on the ice, if aided by buckets of penalties—UNH had eight power plays. The next night the script flipped and Michigan was better in the last 25 minutes.
Buddies. Michigan's line scramble affected almost everyone but did leave two forward pairs joined: Copp/DeBlois and Motte/Compher. I expect those pairings are untouchable with the success the former has had since its formation at midseason last year—Copp also leads the team in points with 6—and the success the latter's had since their NTDP days. Motte and Compher have already connected on a number of plays that show great understanding of each other and seem like they're more than the sum of their parts when they're on the ice together.
The defense is about what we expected. Bennett is far more aggressive with his puck rushes, Clare's slow speed of thought on the ice gets Michigan trapped in their own zone too often, and Serville continues to make scary mistakes. The freshmen have been a pleasant surprise, especially Lohan, who I figured would mostly ride the bench but has been in the way of a lot of scoring plays. Judgments here are still extremely tentative—ask me again after the upcoming four-game homestand.
Michigan's going to need to get some more playmaking from these guys. Successful passes to set up rushes have been lacking. Four games in the defensemen have four points between them, all of them assists, three of them Clare's.
Nieves stands out. Nieves had the proverbial jump over the weekend; on Friday his line was the primary one generating chances in the final two periods. The shuffle put him with Guptill and Hyman and while they didn't score the line got Guptill seven shots. That is a good guy to get shots; Nieves seems to be emerging. Di Giuseppe, too, seems to be more active this year.
This is the first 5-0 when I've ever felt like "I'm pretty happy hoops/hockey season is starting." Part of that is me being a worry wart about Gardner vs. Road Performances (scroll down). Part of it is the basketball team practice reports are a ticker tape of "youguysyouguysyouguysyouguys!" The last of it is something happened last night that didn't get the proper treatment it deserves. Let me rectify that now.
We Beat Beantown Muppets
And you can't have one without the other...
National title contender Boston College came to Yost last night for the hockey season opener and Michigan beat them 3-1. Washes away last year? Not at all. Changes the likelihood of coming out of a brutal non-conference schedule with enough tournament credentials to make up for a relatively eh Big Ten? Definitely. From people who've gotten to see it I'm hearing Compher is something between a second Copp and a god. Next step is revenge on R.I.T.
HTTVHoops/Hockey contributor MGoBlueline is probably running around in circles after last night. BEFORE last night however they dropped an exhibition 2-1 to Waterloo and that was harrowing.
His response was to experiment with Corsi, a stat named for the guy who came up with it that measures the carry of play by tapping blocked shots and misses as well as shots on goal. It's a think brought up a lot in games Waterloo and every Red Wings loss from 1995-2012, where one team carried the play for two periods and probably earned a draw on the other, but were done in by more than just bad puck. You can make it a % too to come away with an idea of defensive performance:
Theory: fewer pucks end up on goal if the defense is getting in their way.
Weeklies. Best and Worst by bronxblue was effusive in its praise after two weeks and a bye of things to be mad about. At first I didn't get the part about Mitch Leidner being mini-Tebow, but now that I've seen the broadcast oh man: my Sparty brother isn't an RCMB'er but even he was like "wow these announcers just hate your guys." Inside the Box Score by ST3 had about 12 Blues Brothers/Belushi shirts that might have been better than my PSU excuses one. LSAClassOf2000 is just trolling Purdue now. Turnover Analysis says not turning it over=good. Jonvalk went there with the weekly wallpaper, is probably going there for it. Program.
Etc. Bill an I agree: Ohio State and Northwestern only made each other look terrifying.
[Jump: Best of the Board, Zen]
MICHIGAN DROPS THE PUCK on Sunday in an exhibition against Waterloo to kick off their 2013-2014 hockey campaign; things get real serious real fast after that as BC comes in for the season opener proper on Thursday the 10th. While I can't go into as much detail as I do with football, a conveniently-timed bye week provides a window in which to properly preview hockey, something I'm not sure I've ever done.
say hello to your next two-year captain, Andrew Copp
The following is a fanciful line chart that will be wrong from day one in many respects, and even more wrong when Red runs his line through a blender four times. But you've got to try:
|LEFT WING||YR||CENTER||YR||RIGHT WING||YR|
|Alex Guptill||Jr.||Andrew Copp||So.||Boo Nieves||So.|
|Phil Di Giuseppe||Jr.||JT Compher||Fr.||Derek DeBlois||Sr.|
|Tyler Motte||Fr.||Travis Lynch||Jr.||Luke Moffatt||Sr.|
|Evan Allen||Fr.||Justin Selman||So.||Zach Hyman||Jr.|
ALSO: Andrew Sinelli (Jr), Alex Kile (Fr), Max Shuart (Fr)
I call him mini-Copp
CENTER. The theory here is that a year after Michigan struggled with leadership everywhere they will prioritize guys who give maximum effort on every shift and build the team around a core of hard-ass centers. Andrew Copp is obvious. Copp was handed the reins of the top line halfway through the season and almost singlehandedly turned the attitude of the team around. Copp worked his ass off, inspired Alex Guptill to great heights, and finished the year with something of a scoring flourish. He's still developing after a career as a high school quarterback made hockey a part-time pastime, and his freshman year was good enough to draw the attention of the NHL after being passed over a year ago. If Michigan can make good on the promise of their late season run this year and for the next few, Copp will go down like Ortmeyer or Hagelin.
Meanwhile, every scouting report on incoming freshman JT Compher goes out of its way to praise Compher's compete level and two-way play:
Compher's NTDP coach Don Granato summed it up pretty well in Compher's hometown newspaper: ""Anything intangible, as far as an attribute, that I’ve mentioned, he’s a 10."
The phrase "two-way forward" is often the polite cliche for a player with not a lot of offensive talent, but in Compher's case, it's not used in a derogatory fashion. Compher is one of the rare skilled players that exhibits the same effort and enthusiasm without the puck that he does with the puck. He's a tenacious, sometimes nasty, defender that makes life difficult for opponents. His compete level all over the ice is among the best in the draft.
Despite not having awesome size or speed, Compher led the NTDP in PPG last year. He is ready for a lot of responsibility, probably right now. Billy Powers isn't even being coy about it:
J.T. is a guy who really has a lot of tools. He’s being talked about a lot as a defensive, third-line forward type but there’s some offensive potential there as well, and we think that will flourish in college. We see him as a power play, penalty kill player right from the start, and he’ll manage a line as a center in our top six.
If you thought one Copp was rather nice, two Copps will be like heaven after suffering through last year.
[After THE JUMP: actual rather a lot of depth.]
Yes. Fun. Annual best CTK is just four minutes of the Michigan drill:
- Lewan buries Keith Heitzman on the first rep; Heitzman comes back and does much better against Schofield on the next one. Not entirely unexpected.
- Rawls absolutely runs over Ross Douglas on a rep, causing both guys to pop up and jut chests at each other threateningly.
- Washington looks good on both his reps, though he gave some ground on #1.
- Ross sheds very well on his single rep, as does Jarrod Wilson. Wormley does not and immediately gets a coach in his face repeating "escape, escape, escape" to him.
- A rather large-looking Mike McCray has interesting reps separated by 30 seconds or so. On the first one, Kyle Bosch drives him way out of the frame. On the second, he dumps Blake Bars to the ground and makes a tackle.
- Taco stands up Jake Butt, RB darts by, Mattison exclaims "HE WENT OUTSIDE THE CONE" in an effort to claim that one for the D.
- Strobel does a good job against walk-on Erik Gunderson.
- Jeremy Jackson locks up Richardson and waltzes him downfeld. Not a huge surprise, but an indicator as to why it's going to be hard for Richardson to get on the field this year.
- Pipkins wins a rep against Glasgow with authority.
Omar comin'? Frank Clark gets the CTK treatment:
Clark says he'd be competitive with Devin Gardner in a 40 yard dash… but not Denard. He says he 268, not 277, but a CTK a few days later they say he's 274. I dunno, pick one.
Also available: Aaron Wellman may get results, but does he sound like a gravel truck? Maybe a little. Jeremy Jackson's Day 18 is mostly a look into weirdass Navy Seal exercises like "kick a pole and wiggle forward on your butt" and "rub sand on your head." Jake Ryan is running and whatnot.
Hail Brady. Oh man Michigan's head coach has the same opinion on uniformz as sane people do:
"(The uniform issue is) bigger than it should be," Hoke said Monday during a radio interview with FoxSports' Jay Mohr. "But we’re traditional, and we have such a great tradition and legacies, we’re going to be staying pretty much standard.” …
“We had one uniform we wore once that we won’t wear again,” he said. "It’s something that you’re always trying to have that excitement with your kids, and that’s part of it."
Is that the ghost number outfit, the No Rain bumblebee one, or… actually the Sugar Bowl uniforms were hardly different from the usual and fine.
The times, they have changed. Ohio State picks up a 2015 PG commit from AJ Harris, a 5'8" kid who I'd never heard of. A quick check of the UMHoops page for him reveals nothing but a lot of scouting from various AAU tournaments, so that's why: no one had mentioned him in connection with a Michigan offer. This is interesting for a couple reasons:
- It likely removes OSU from the Jalen Brunson chase, but Harris is a AAU teammate of Luke Kennard.
- Harris's commitment was "shocking" because as of two weeks ago he said Michigan was at the top and he wanted to be Trey Burke.
Harris told Eleven Warriors that "it's true, I did want to hear from Michigan," but Michigan is focused on a half-dozen high profile targets. So… Ohio point guard picks Ohio State because Michigan showed no interest. Remember when the basketball program was 1-6 in the Big Ten? No? I don't either.
Meanwhile in silly things said on the internet:
What could make it sweeter? Beating out Michigan for a prospect that two weeks ago wanted to emulate Trey Burke.
To beat the man, the man has to be in the ring, or at least cognizant of the fact there is a ring.
Booker and Johnson do things. Elsewhere in basketball recruiting news—we are downshifting from occasional roundups as football season starts—Devin Booker releases a top five of Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, and Florida. The latter two are not reputed to be strong contenders, especially Florida. Booker told Scout that he's set up officials with the other four schools and pull the trigger "whenever I feel whatever schools is right for me" and that he's not even sure he'll visit Florida.
You are rooting for Indiana decommit (and Kentucky legacy) James Blackmon to pick the Wildcats, as they seem to be the biggest threat at the moment. Indiana blog Inside The Hall thinks Blackmon is all but locked up for the Wildcats, so we've got that going for us. The primary way things could go pear-shaped if Blackmon takes Kentucky off the table is if Michigan gets a commit from Trevon Bluiett and Booker looks at Stauskas/Irvin/LeVert/Bluiett as a higher hill to climb than Michigan State's roster.
Also, Ypsi PF Jaylen Johnson, who recently took a visit to Michigan, is profiled by the Louisville paper:
“I love his activity,” Meyer said. “He’s athletic, he’s long, and he’s so active. He’s such an aggressive rebounder, one of those who is always fighting for position early. I love his feel for the game as a rebounder.”
Meyer thinks Johnson will end up at Louisville, so expect him to cut Louisville from his list immediately. YES I AM STILL BITTER.
Finally, touted 2015 PF Carlton Bragg plans a visit:
We talked about it a little,” Graves said. “I think Carlton would be a three, stretch four because he has the jumper to be 6-9 just like a forward that runs the floor, like a hybrid. We haven’t talked x’s and o’s but they can see him in their system, especially with the three’s that they shoot.”
Bragg is open at the moment; Ohio State will be a major player.
They were almost ready to throw in the towel last year. On the OL, that is. Apparently the debate as to whether to redshirt Kyle Kalis was being had within the walls of Schembechler Hall as well as without:
"It sucked," the redshirt freshman offensive lineman said Sunday. "It sucked. So many times, I was close to going in, but they didn't want to burn my redshirt.
"Everyone wants to play, and it sucks (when you don't get to). And I was mad about it."
So many times I was like "why aren't they playing Kalis." At least we know now there was much debate about it.
Prepare for WJC departures. The United States of Hockey handicaps the National Junior Evaluation Camp field, which includes four Michigan forwards. Chris Peters projects that Compher ("One of the better centers for most of the camp… really strong when playing a bottom-six role and playing an aggressive, grinding two-way style") and Copp ("A prime candidate to play the fourth-line shutdown role the U.S. will so badly need to succeed") will make the roster, while Motte and Nieves are question marks. Nieves's evaluation is pretty much the thing:
Nieves is one of those guys where if he finds that missing piece to his game, he could be really good. With size, speed and some truly remarkable puck skills, he’s got a lot of the tools going for him. He just couldn’t seem to finish the play out with the right decision or buy himself time when he needed it. That led to poor shots or turnovers and that’s going to be tough to do at the WJC level. The speed and skills are there, but I think he needs some more work.
Right now he's Milan Gajic, a guy who looks like he's got every skill you could want but doesn't put it together to blow up. He's got some more time to break out of that rut.
Meanwhile, Motte is sounding like something not very much like the midget puck wizard I'd assumed he would be:
Motte showed good quickness and some skill in a solid camp performance. He had some good two-way play and worked really well when playing with Compher and Fasching in the middle parts of the camp.
He might grab a lower-rung spot, especially if the brass thinks his long familiarity with Compher would make a good pairing.
Are they related to Wiz Khalifa? I don't know what this means.
For Gallon, there’s an added bonus there: He and Gardner are extremely tight. “Closer than Phineas and Ferb,” as Gallon puts it.
I am old.
Etc.: Big Ten building spree reaches 1.5 billion dollars. No M-OSU night games on the docket according to Jim Delany. Chengelis wants to futz with the tunnel. Michael Bradley profiled. Penn State fans no likey Hoke after the Wangler decommitment. Moeller and Lou Holtz break down The Catch.
Hello gents. I've been out the last few days enjoying the natural beauty of and extreme numbers of mosquitoes on North Manitou Island:
Your move, Ohio
Protips: stay away from the areas of the island in the lee of the wind—surprisingly, the west side—and punch anyone who tells you bug bands work in the face. Then do it again, and ask them if they're wearing their getting-punched-in-the-face bands. They probably are.
Anyway, exodus was half pretty great, half a nine-mile Mosquito Death March and I kind of feel like I need a vacation from the ol' vacation. But here is a computer and here are open tabs so…
Annual bit on camp commits. It's that time in July when an under-the-radar prospect or two has committed after showing up at Michigan's camp and impressing, causing various message board folks to say that was a dumb move when Player X is out there. With the commitments of Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, Player X is Artavis Scott and/or Montae Nicholson, Parrker Westphal, Adoree Jackson, etc.
Leaving aside the fact that people complaining on message boards haven't seen these players do things, I think it's healthy to have a couple of camp commits a year. It shows that the coaching staff doing so is paying attention to that camp, that there's a reason for people to show out, and that the staff can evaluate guys on their own.
Amongst the Michigan fanbase camp commits have gotten a bit of a bad rap because late in the Carr regime they started leaning way too heavily on it and had erratic (at best) results. The camp guys from 2005 to 2008:
Rocko Khoury: Miss.
Mike Cox: Miss, though he did get drafted after transferring to UMass.
David Molk. Major hit.
Steve Watson. Miss.
James Rogers. Miss.
Troy Woolfolk. You could give him an injury INC, I guess. Lean towards miss there.
David Cone. Miss. Coner.
Quintin Patilla. Miss.
Mister Simpson. Miss.
Christ McLaurin. Miss.
Zoltan Mesko. Hit, but, like, a punter.
Mesko was the #1 punter in the country that year and can't be declared a camp find. Also, he's a punter. Leaving aside him, the record of camp commits is one indisputably great player in Molk, one contributor in Woolfolk, seven guys who flamed out—a few of whom had no business in D-I, let alone Michigan—and the special case of James Rogers, who did start on the worst Michigan secondary of all time. He managed to do that and suggest that he was also a miss.
- That's a symptom of imperial decline, but it shouldn't necessarily reflect on the coaching acumen of Hoke and his staff. If it helps, the vast majority of the above guys had zero other decent offers. Most had zero other BCS offers, period. Watson and Canteen both had offers from Tennessee and Rutgers. Little different situation.
Dumars. Dead to me. While I actually like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a selection at #8, the mere fact that Detroit's pick was between 7th and 9th for the fourth straight year is all you need to know about Joe Dumars, post-Rasheed trade. Dumars hasn't been able to put together a team that made the playoffs, but neither has he properly tanked. He signed Ben Gordon to a contract so bad Dumars had to dump a first round pick to get rid of him, he still has No Eyebrows on his bench, he traded Chauncey Billups for the corpse of Allen Iverson while offering Prince and Hamilton extensions, and he is now pursuing Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith in free agency for reasons known only to him, all so the Pistons can end up on the fringe of the lottery or exiting in the first round next year.
So, yeah, I do feel like I can say that passing on Trey Burke is a prime example of why the Pistons suck. This is just offensive:
Dumars said that in discussing the possibility of this decision as the draft progressed, he was reminded of when Indiana Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh drafted Reggie Miller ahead of Indiana University favorite Steve Alford in 1987.
Steve Alford went 15 picks later; Burke was off the board on the very next pick, taken by a team that trade up to get him. If Burke takes off in Utah… argh. Seriously considering attending the Palace for the Pistons-Utah game and rooting my ass off for the Jazz.
Pretty much the GRIII thing. One graph on Glenn Robinson's scoring says it all:
Couple that with his 13% usage and you have a guy who is… okay… bear with me… Brent Petway with a three point stroke. Robinson clearly has buckets more potential, but that is the profile of a garbageman exclusively. That the NBA would take that guy in the middle of the first round, well, see above on Dumars.
I agree with folks who say if Robinson was looking to maximize his stock he should have left this year. There are lots of reasons other than draft position to do things in your life, obviously, but if his numbers stay like that in year two his stock will drop precipitously. If he gets a lot better at creating his own offense, it'll rise—and Michigan will destroy. Yes please, sir:
I feel like people have only seen one side of my game, cant wait to see the shock on peoples faces when the see the real GRIII.
Backup plan. Dave Telep on Derrick Walton's game:
I went back and reread my notes from last summer. Some of the buzzwords included “winner,” “set-up man,” “reads defenses” and “thinks pass first.”
Walton is a point guard’s point guard. He’s a player who has a craving to win and will be an extension of his coach. Next year, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary will need the basketball. Walton, if he’s the player I believe him to be, will not only recognize that, but will allow them to be better scorers for the Wolverines.
Walton assist rate will be a stat to watch early in the season.
Hockey guys incoming. A couple of scouting reports on hockey's upcoming, much-needed infusion of talent and desire. JT Compher sounds like the right prescription, and how:
1. JT Compher – F – US NTDP – Michigan Commit
Compher has one of the highest compete levels I’ve ever seen, and while he’s listed between 5-10 to 6’0, we can all agree that Compher plays far bigger than his size. He slams into the tough areas of the ice with abandon and has an excess of offensive prowess not typically found in a player as willing to get his hands dirty. The Team Illinois product is a potential first rounder.
I'd seen Compher take on Michigan with the NTDP and started muttering on WTKA about how he might have to take on a lot of leadership tasks even in year one, and that's why: he goes and gets it every shift, something Michigan seemed to lack. The emergence of Andrew Copp mitigates that need. Still, there aren't a lot of options for second-line center period, let alone guys who bring a two-way energy. I bet he ends up slotting right behind Copp and playing a lot like him.
Meanwhile Tyler Motte is more in the little devious bastard mold:
…he has always been a very strong, agile skater. Motte also added quite a bit of grit to his game this year, showing a great compete level and making up for his lack of size by using his quickness and tenacity to win puck battles. He's also still got some pretty good offensive abilities, finishing second on the U18 team with 26 goals scored on the season.
The other impressive thing about Motte's season is that he seemed to turn in some of his best performances against the toughest competition he faced. He was arguably his team's best skater in a 3-3 tie against Minnesota early in the year, scored a pair of goals in an upset win over his future team, the University of Michigan. He also led the US in scoring at the World U18 championships, with eight points in seven games.
That's very encouraging. TJ Hensick types who are awesome college players without projecting too well to the pros (Hensick never made it in the NHL and just signed in Sweden) are the best guys to have in your recruiting class, and if Motte goes in the third-to-fifth round range he's projected and remains a guy who gets it done at the college level, thumbs up.
Wheeeee. A look at LSU's finances gives some indication as to where athletic departments are stuffing all of the money in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to hide it all:
The major reasons for the ticket price increases are to offset skyrocketing tuition, salary and employee benefit costs, Alleva said.
The athletic department must reimburse the university’s academic side for each scholarship it hands out — even paying the higher, out-of-state rate for non-Louisiana student-athletes. Alleva said tuition costs have been rising about 10 percent per year the past several years.
In addition to ever-rising coach and employee salaries, Alleva said the fringe benefit rate has gone up from about 22 percent five years ago to 39 percent for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
“If someone makes $100,000, we had to pay an additional $22,000 to the university for sick leave, vacation, holidays and their pension,” Alleva said. “Now that rate is going up to 39 percent.”
LSU's budget has gone up about 150% in a decade, but only because skyrocketing costs have forced it blah blah blah. The money just makes your suit look lumpy and there's a 20 hanging off your sock, LSU.
Etc.: UF assistant Brian White: if you walk into a room and Urban Meyer is going "ding" in a wheelchair, run. 2015 OH SG Luke Kennard was the main attraction at Michigan's team camp. Elite 11 now overrun by men who write business books. The NCAA title belt, a history. Nebraska has a place to play if it wants to add hockey. Endowing the #1 jersey killed it.
Hail Mattison. Tube sock brigade == ND's line in the eyes of a guy who might know, Purdue OC Gary Nord:
Gold and Black: Are you having trouble with your offensive front, and is that affecting your run game?
Nord: "No, I think the offensive line played the best game they've played this year, I really do. They probably protected better than they've ever protected. I think Michigan's defensive line was probably as good as any that we've played. They were very good. They held Notre Dame to about the same number of yards we had and they had five turnovers on them. They played two of the better teams in the country in Alabama and Notre Dame, those two, so their stats were screwed up a little bit going in, but watching them man-for-man and for the four-down guys and two linebackers, they're as good as there is in the country."
Coachspeak? Never. Gary Nord speaks the gospel truth at all times thanks to an ancient curse passed down from Nord father to Nord son that turns them into a walrus if they ever say anything other than the unvarnished facts of a matter.
Danny Hope has it too, and fell from the straight and narrow.
That's so Weis. I mean, seriously.
The US government needs to disguise Weis as an Iranian ayatollah and send him into deep cover. Within weeks the country will collapse in the world's most disorganized civil war.
Yeah, I know about Somalia. I stand by what I said.
Next up: the University of Phoenix Phoenixes. TOC does a thing where they deploy Bradley-Terry ratings for college football* in the service of predicting things. They've got a margin-aware version, too. The West is a sack of cats with Michigan a tiny favorite thanks to not having a conference loss yet; the by-far top two teams in the East are the ineligible ones. BIG TENNNNNN.
Michigan's opponent this weekend… eh… not so good.
Blowout of the Week (Illinois Division): Illinois @ Michigan
Not only has Illinois only won one game against 1-A competition (Western Michigan), last week's 17-point loss to Wisconsin was their closest loss. This will not end well. Michigan is an 80% favorite according to the basic method, 93% (17 points) according to margin-aware.
The Illini have a one in 70,100 chance of winning out, though.
Over at A Lion Eye they're trying to figure out how on earth you fire Ron Zook and get a lot worse:
Our last four losses by 17 or more under Zook:
11/26/11: Minnesota 27, Illinois 7
11/12/11: Michigan 31, Illinois 14
10/16/10: Michigan State 26, Illinois 6
10/03/09: Penn State 35, Illinois 17
So if you’re scoring at home, that’s four 17+ point losses in the last five weeks for Illinois. And before this season, four 17+ point losses in the last 35 games. You know what, let’s make this one hurt a little more. 2006 through 2011. Six seasons, eight losses by 17 points or more. This season, four of our six games were losses by 17 points or more.
Illinois's run game has fallen off a cliff you already thought it had fallen off, dropping from 11th in 2010 to 41st in 2011 to 94th(!) this year, 94th when three of their opponents have been WMU, Charleston Southern, and Louisiana Tech. Every La Tech opponent has rushed for more yards against the Bulldogs than Illinois.
BONUS: after collecting 41 sacks a year ago, Illinois has nine in six games this time out. They returned everyone but Mercilus. They're 109th at sacks allowed. Illinois: not good.
*[college hockey fans may know this as KRACH]
Another tough injury for State. Dion Sims missed most of the Indiana game with an ankle injury. He's day-to-day-ish:
"I don't know that he'll make it this week," Dantonio said of Sims, "but he may make it next week. We'll have to see how he responds in the next couple days, really."
This week is Iowa, next week Michigan. Sims is MSU's leading receiver with 313 yards, though if you give Aaron Burbridge a minute he'll eclipse that.
Sims's backup is a redshirt freshman, FWIW. If Sims misses the Michigan game the main benefit seems to be a lack of the multi-TE sets State used to spring Ed Baker to a big day last year.
Also in injuryland, OSU MLB Etienne Sabino is out four weeks with a bone fracture in his leg. That prognosis should have him back on the field for Michigan, but seriously you can come back from this sort of thing in four weeks?
Senior linebacker Etienne Sabino has a broken right fibula and will miss at least three weeks, possibly more, for the Ohio State football team.
Sabino was injured in the first half of Saturday’s 63-38 win over Nebraska. He had surgery on Sunday to implant a steel plate into his leg.
“He talked to the team afterwards, and it was an emotional moment,” Meyer said. “The best case is three weeks. The worst case is longer. We hope to get him back.”
I am terrified of football players. Sabino's replacement is true freshman Joshua Perry, but OSU spends a lot of time in a nickel package that he won't feature in.
Willis Ward to be honored. All it took was action from the state legislature:
Oct. 20 (UM vs. MSU) is Willis Ward Day in Michigan. Athletic Department spokesperson said Michigan plans to recognize Willis on that day.
I've always loved "recognize" as a thing that is done by official-type people. "Oh, hey… you're Willis Ward, aren't you? Rad. I suppose this IS a plaque with you on it!"
Yost to host. Hockey drops the puck tonight in an exhibition against Windsor; Yost Built previews the D and goalies. I agree with him that splitting Moffie and Bennett across two pairings makes sense. Something like…
…gives you offensive firepower at all times and a defensive guy who will cover up for the offensive guy when he lets his freak flag fly. I'll also be watching to see what kind of progress Brennan Serville can make. He was pretty bad last year but also very young; he could make a big step forward.
Red says Rutledge, Racine, and Janecyk will all play a period so hopefully that means Rutledge's eye thing is healed is ready to go for the real season opener on… Thursday? Guh.
Someone's got to do something about hockey scheduling. There's a game at Yost on February first this year. You know when the next one is? March. I assume this is just the CCHA screwing with Michigan because it can; hopefully next year they'll be able to move more home games into the back half of the schedule.
BONUS SCHEDULING TIP: The Big Ten should seek out opportunities to have rival weekends where, say, Minnesota football and hockey come to town at the same time. The travel equation changes dramatically when you get a hockey series on top of your football game.
Compher so pretty. JT Compher had another career lined up if hockey didn't work out:
"When I was younger I did toddler modeling and I was on the front of a catalog," Compher told NHL.com. "I got to keep the red scooter that I was modeling. That was pretty cool."
Compher said he can't remember what company the catalog was from, only that he was 3 or 4 years old at the time and got a pretty cool new toy out of the deal.
Okay, okay, this happened. Stop emailing me about it plz:
As I said on the twitter, my favorite part is that he appears to have misspelled his own damn name in his twitter handle.
Etc.: Ramroth Finnegan! I bet he ends up at Cincinnati. Illinois CB Terry Hawthorne was taken off in an ambulance last week but may return Saturday. Weinreb on Penn State remembering this football thing. Tim Hardaway expectation tracker. More numbers displaying that Illinois is bad yo. Denard throws are key.