chance of bowl: 13.6%
My eccentric Oregon financial advisor doppelganger. Smart Football points to a fellow who goes by FishDuck and is all about zone reads, feeding his dog, the violent-yet-genteel devouring of Mike Patrick, and more zone reads:
An interesting point picked up from Chip Kelly's presentations: Oregon has tipped inside/outside zone for six years without ill effect because declaring the play causes people to overreact to it, which opens up constraint plays. More than that, the zone often acts as its own constraint as over-aggressive players flow playside or bunch up inside, opening cutbacks and bounces.
He's also got a video on Oregon's deployment of power, which it uses as a counter to their usual inside zone stuff. We haven't seen this out of Borges yet, but I'm hoping. My desire to see Michigan pair an opposite-side-of-the-line speed option with the inside zone borders on lust. And by "borders on lust" I mean "invades Poland with sexy tanks."
When he was hired in January, Hoke's mission was explicitly to roll back the Rodriguez era, to restore whatever it was that made Michigan feel like Michigan again. To that end, even Wolverine fans seemed to find the sudden proliferation of countdown clocks, macho posturing and various Buckeye-related eccentricities laying it on a little thick. But six weeks in, the Wolverines are right on schedule in the national polls, the Big Ten standings and the weekly stat sheets. If they clear the midseason hurdle Rodriguez's teams never could at Michigan State, they can claim one more phase of the mission accomplished.
Kind of a big deal, this game.
Point: Tim. Reportorial ex-girlfriend Tim, who now goes by the bizarrely long moniker "Tim Sullivan" over at Rivals, was a committed skeptic about Rob Bolden since he was one of a trio of touted in-state quarterbacks in the 2009 recruiting class.
Despite the rankings, Tim said the guy didn't know how to play football. It seems like his scouting prowess has been borne out:
Game Over, Man. Game Over. This quarterback contest is done. Urban Meyer remarked toward the end of Penn State's first offensive drive that at Thursday practice, he did not see Bolden complete a single pass over five yards. This makes sense, as Bolden did not throw a single decent pass on the entire first drive. …
Rob looks completely shattered at this point, and it's time for the coaches, players, and fans to embrace the crazy train that is McGloin Moxie Mania.
It's McGloin o'clock in Bolden's Penn State career. Beaten out by a walk-on, does a transfer again beckon? /NYT headline writer imitation
Point: Hoke. Shudder at the awful puntasaur display in the Iowa-Penn State game:
…Iowa got to the PSU 33, faced 4th and 8... and punted. That Guthrie was able to pin PSU on their own 10-yard line (a solid accomplishment) is irrelevant. Punting from the other team's 33-yard line is A F---ING STUPID AND TERRIBLE IDEA. I don't even need statistics to back me up on that one (although they would). Even if Ferentz didn't want to try to convert on fourth down (4th and 8 isn't easy, obviously), why not give Mike Meyer a crack at a field goal? It was a beautiful day, the ball was lined up near the middle of the field, and Meyer has made 50+ yard field goals in the past (this year, in fact). But no. Ferentz gave a vote of "no confidence" to both Meyer and his offense on that play. Iowa probably deserved to lose the game for that decision alone.
Of course, JoePa was determined to out-conservative -- or out-dumb -- Ferentz; he punted three times from the Iowa side of the field, including late in the game on 4th and 2 from the Iowa 36. If he really didn't think his offense could rip off a two-yard gain against a gassed and reeling Iowa defense, I... I just have no words for the level of neanderthal football thinking on display in this game.
Of course, that coaching blunder on Ferentz's part might be narrowly eclipsed by the decision to eschew running a two-minute offense upon getting the ball at the Iowa 20 with two timeouts and 1:42 to go before halftime. God forbid we try to score there. It's not like we don't have a no huddle offense that's been effective this year or a kicker with decent range. Nope.
Even if trying the field goal with Gibbons is a mistake, it pales in comparison to that business. I cannot express how much I love the Mathlete's new Dumb Punt of the Week feature. The inaugural winner is Ohio State's Frank Solich, who punted on fourth and one from the Buffalo 36. Buffalo has the #91 rushing defense. After an 11 yard punt, Buffalo drove for a touchdown. Ohio State lost by a point. The game theory gods do not take kindly to being spited so grandiosely. (See also: Kirk Ferentz.)
I missed another Hoke game theory bit: he got the ball at the 22 with about two minutes left and did not pull the Ferentz. Robinson rushed for a loss of one on first down, then five straight passes got Michigan to the Northwestern 44 before Robinson's third awful interception set up a Northwestern field goal drive. While we've seen Hoke eschew half-ending drives a couple times this year, those were with a minute or less on the clock, not two.
Now… it didn't work out that time, but these things are never 100%. Did it make sense at the time to try to score with a couple minutes left against Northwestern's defense? Yeah.
Glarb glarb glarb. So when Michigan shuffled its fullback on third and one and got owned I had a conniption fit. This was the result of DeBord Doom re-emergence:
That's the corpse of Steve Watson you see getting annihilated at the LOS. Glarb.
BWS picture-pages this and points out that the shuffling fullback opened up the Gardner rollout TD on which he had either the run or pass; I'm not so sure showing the first play is worth the cost to get a yard when your redzone offense seems to be able to get a yard whenever it wants. I like diabolical machinations better when they're like the above Oregon stuff—plenty diabolical in their own right without the counter.
Mitchbreaks. Mitch McGary's impending Michigan decision now seems far less certain:
Recently, reports came out that Mitch was nearing or had made a decision. However, Tim refutes that notion “He hasn’t made a decision. I just talked to him tonight (Monday night) and we talked about it a little bit. He’s coming home Wednesday night and we’re going to sit down and talk about it. They get a four or five day break this weekend so he’s flying in to O’hare and my older son will pick him up. We’ll be able to sit down and sort things out.”
Likely rumor vector: AAU coach to national guy, national guy tizzy checks in with coach a few more times, everyone wants to back off. Confidence level: reduced, but still high.
Etc.: Denard Robinson is healthier this year because he is homeopathic or something. Mark Huyge has had a tough year. Holdin' the Rope doesn't like "smug, pompous buffoon" Mark Dantoinio. Jon Merrill suspension 50/50 to end his career. Sad face.
Just Win, Babby?
Michigan fans have seen what impact a tough season can have on a recruiting class, as the terrible 2008 squad led to attrition from last year's class, and made this year's crop more difficult to pull in. With the Wolverines facing similar struggles in 2009, some recruits may be out of reach, but a few key guys see the team improving:
"It doesn't change anything," said Millersville (Md.) Old Mill linebacker Josh Furman, who officially visited Ann Arbor in September. "They are a young team and they need people at certain positions to play and be successful like they have been (in the past)."
While the losing streak has probably put the likes of MN OL Seantrel Henderson out of reach, Furman is an important recruit, as Michigan's linebackers have... struggled this year. The article also mentions that CA LB Tony Jefferson will visit for the Ohio State game (rescheduled from last weekend), despite MIchigan's trying season. More on visits a little later.
One Game to Sway Them All
As mentioned above, the Ohio State game looks to be an important one for recruiting. Aside from providing an opportunity to show that this ship is headed in the right direction (plz plz win), it's the biggest visit weekend of the year. The list will probably change over the course of the next week, but it's shaping up to be a blockbuster, per Josh Helmholdt in the Freep:
- FL CB Tony Grimes
- FL DE Clarence Murphy
- CA LB Tony Jefferson (as mentioned above)
- PA CB Cullen Christian
- FL RB Cassius McDowell
- FL S Rashad Knight
- FL S Commit Marvin Robinson
- 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty
- MI CB Dior Mathis
Aside from that article, GA LB Tyrone Cornelius has talked about visiting Michigan (as mentioned last week), but no word on whether it will be for the OSU game or post-season. CA WR Kenny Stills is in a similar situation. There are also a number of indications that some 2011 prospects will be in attendance, including FL RB Demetrius Hart, a possible commit if he really likes what he sees.
SC QB Commit Conelius Jones's Shrine Bowl profile is now available, and he's listed as a wide receiver, who will be a defensive back at Michigan. Obviously, we won't have full confirmation of his future position until Signing Day.
In other quarterbacking news, MI QB Devin Gardner comes in for a solid round of fluff from Sam Webb in the Detroit News. He's still looking at possibly enrolling early.
"He had a great junior year and has simply built upon that," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "He is considered one of the top handful of quarterbacks in the country and is firmly entrenched as a five-star prospect. As far as upside goes, I don't see many quarterbacks that have his potential."
Rivals recently named Gardner the best scrambler among 2010 QBs, and the second-strongest arm, behind Penn State Commit Robert Bolden. At this time, I am obligated to grumble that I think Bolden is overrated.
LA QB Munchie LeGeaux committed to Colorado. Once Michigan took Conelius Jones, the writing was probably on the wall that LeGeaux was no longer an option.
Though CA CB Josh Shaw was talking as recently as last week about taking an official visit to Michigan for the Ohio State game, that's no longer a possibility. He will decide early next week between 5 schools that aren't Michigan: Florida, USC, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and LSU. I'ma be straight with you: one of those things is reallllly not like the others.
PA DT Shariff Floyd has been alternately not very interested in Michigan and not at all interested in Michigan, so the latest sign of no interest (he will fill his final official visit slot with North Carolina) isn't quite cause to remove him from the board. Michigan is totally not landing that kid, though.
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan was positively raving about Michigan following his unofficial visit in September, but now UCLA may have moved to the forefront. That does give him a reputation for falling in love with the most recent school he's visited, so don't read too much into it. Still, there's no mention of an official visit to Michigan in December, as there was immediately after his first trip.
Olaniyan said he plans to take two more visits in December and then make his decision.
"I have Duke set for (Dec. 4) and North Carolina (Dec. 11)," Olaniyan said. "I'll make my commitment right after those visits. If I get invited to an All-American game, I'll announce then in January but otherwise, I'll do it in mid-December after my last visit."
Yeah, so that probably means Michigan has really fallen off.
OH S/WR Bobby Swigert has selected Boston College.
Michigan's chance at TX DT Jatashun Beachum is "big" ($, info in header). Michigan offered MN DE Tobi Okuyemi... but he immediately committed to Nebraska. GA DT Mike Thornton has the Wolverines "in his thoughts" ($, info in header).