I did not make this headline up
We're from the Erik Campbell branch
From 1995 to 2007 Michigan had a Hall of Fame head coach who embodied the ideals of ethics and education within a championship-caliber football program, the thing we're actually referring to when we venerate "Michigan." It won a national championship, usually beat its rivals, took a lot of trips to Pasadena and Orlando, won a share of the Big Ten as often as not, and put more players on NFL rosters than any team save Miami (YTM).
But in two (soon to be three) coaching searches hence, there has been a remarkable lack of suitable head coaching candidates from that 13 season span, and it's all due to the single biggest flaw of its last successful head coach: Lloyd Carr was too loyal to mediocre assistants.
A baseline. I'll start with what I consider normal. A coaching staff will typically go through a lot of dudes. On the whole it's more common for an assistant to get a better job than be fired from their current one, with the caveat that a new head coach most often cleans out the old assistants. One or two new guys per year is normal for a successful coaching staff.
You want fresh blood and fresh ideas coming in, but also a core stability, especially from the guys you lean on for recruiting, and that's why a mix is important. The group is usually a mix of the head coach's best bud, a few lifetime position coaches who are loyal and great fundamental teachers but not coordinator/HC material, and a few up-and-comers who are. Have one spot for a young guy who's loyal to your program and can relate well to the players. In coordinators, unless one of them is your best bud, you optimally expect a pair of strategic operatives who'll be around for three seasons or so before their success gets them a head coaching job. You replace those guys with other up-and-comers, or promote one of yours if you think they're ready.
The head coach can take on one of those roles, since in himself he probably has one of the best possible position coaches or coordinators in the country. You see why Mattison is so valuable to Hoke then, because he's good at his job, and good at recruiting, and doesn't want to leave it. That's the kind of rare luxury who can make a staff extraordinary.
For Lloyd's guys, I'll break it up by group.
|2007||Mike DeBord||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2006||Mike DeBord||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2005||Terry Malone||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2004||Terry Malone||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2003||Terry Malone||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2002||Terry Malone||Scot Loeffler||Andy Moeller||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2001||Stan Parrish||(Parrish)||Terry Malone||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|2000||Stan Parrish||(Parrish)||Terry Malone||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|1999||Mike Debord||Stan Parrish||Terry Malone||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|1998||Mike Debord||Stan Parrish||Terry Malone||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|1997||Mike DeBord||Stan Parrish||Terry Malone||Erik Campbell||Fred Jackson|
|1996||Fred Jackson||Stan Parrish||Mike DeBord||Erik Campbell||(Jackson)|
|1995||Fred Jackson||Kit Cartwright||Mike DeBord||Erik Campbell||(Jackson)|
Primary complaint was offense so I'll start there. Number is parentheses is the guy's current age.
Lloyd's first OC, Fred Jackson (64), was promoted more for loyalty than any supposed grasp of the offense. The fan consensus at the time was that Jackson was in over his head, and wasting all of that air-the-ball talent that Moeller had so carefully constructed. The latter half of '96 was brutal (except for OSU), and Jackson was demoted back to RBs coach, where he will remain until the end of eternity.
|The reason we thought Lloyd Carr would only be an interim head coach at first was he made Fred Jackson his first offensive coordinator, i.e. he replaced GARY EFFING MOELLER with a lifetime running backs coach/program glue guy. [photo: Fuller]|
At that point, rather than find a real OC, Lloyd promoted OL coach Mike DeBord (58). It's likely that had the defense not been enough to win a championship with just mediocre offense, DeBord would not have become as entrenched. Nevertheless Michigan spent half of its championship season doinking Chris Howard into stacked lines for two plays then passing on third down, succeeding just enough thanks to a couple of really shining young guys on the offensive line, and spot offensive duty by Woodson.
The DeBord who ran zone left all damn day in 2007 had been a wonderful offensive line coach before that. Prior to 1992 Michigan had Bo's de facto associate HC Jerry Hanlon as OL coach, and then Les Miles, except for a year Bobby Morrison (more on him later) coached it. Moeller hired DeBord after watching Northwestern's theretofore crap OL suddenly not suck in one year, and found a resume of just-as-quick turnarounds at Fort Hays State, Eastern Illinois, Ball State, and Colorado State in a matter of 10 years. From Runyan and Payne to Hutchinson and Backus, DeBord's OL were ready to insert after a year in the system, and usually ready for the NFL after three.
The problem was he approached offense coordination the same way: repetition, execution, toughness. Carr recommended DeBord to CMU as a training ground for eventually taking over Michigan, and when DeBord proved bad even by directional school standards (this was the disaster Brian Kelly remediated), Lloyd made room for him as special teams coach and recruiting guy. The loyalty to DeBord was the biggest complaint we had about Lloyd's tenure, and the caveman-style football they championed survives as a cancerous ideology within the program. As Carr's handpicked successor, DeBord is the personification of this complaint.
Michigan found a spot for him coordinating various non-revenue sports. This seemed nice and natural because dude did dedicate his life to Michigan, but something about DeBord being around now gives me the willies.
[After the jump: the rest of the staffs]
The Firehouse Museum, the Huron River, Depot Town, the phallic watertower, Sidetrack burgers, a bowl of everything at the Bomber Restaurant that magically absorbs your entire hangover, bowling…this is the entire list of nice things my EMU grad wife had to say about Ypsilanti. Even their Meijer sucks. To her list I would add running backs coach Mike Hart and the "Players Coached" section of Ron English's chrome website, where you can get quotes like this:
"When I think of Marlin Jackson, I think of a stallion. Marlin Jackson was a stallion. I didn't break him, but I did corral him a little bit in terms of getting him to believe in technique."
-Ron English, EMU Head Coach
File under things you will never unlearn. Other things that are like mammals according to Ron English: LaMarr Woodley and Prescott Burgess.
How this works again:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Week:
So it's come to this, Bob Huggins. A fight to the death. Mano a mano. Man to man. Just you and me and my GUARDS!
*SWISH* *SWISH* *SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH* 81-66. Simon of SimonOnSports was closest at 81-65.
This Week's Game:
The University of Discgolf heads west on Washtenaw at 8:30 tomorrow night. Winner gets to claim to be the dominant school in the county.
And on the Line…
Fact: If you are wearing this shirt in Ann Arbor while facing South, you could be pointing at Mike Hart right now!
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. Rutgers is from Jersey. Holy shit guys Rutgers is in the Big Ten. BIG TENNNNN! The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.This is not the algorithm. This is close.
The full Hebner. If you've got a Scout account I highly recommend their latest video of Kyle Kalis($). It has many examples of Kalis burying some poor high school kid, sure, but the main attraction is a ref bump worthy of Wrestlemania:
At this point in the film I was expecting Luke Fickell to rush in from behind and deliver a low blow, then roll Kalis up for a pin.
In other news, holy crap Kyle Kalis hates people. Molk will be proud.
Will Campbell tackled Thomas Gordon after his INT.
Q: "Did he say anything do you?"
A: "Get off me."
"I actually spoke to him and told him he would no longer be credentialed," Dave Ablauf, Michigan senior associate athletic director for media and public relations, told ESPN.com. "He came in under a different name than what we were familiar with. Had the name I knew popped up, I wouldn't have credentialed him."
He's been booted, as has the organization he was working with. So… have a free spot on the sideline, do you, Michigan? #callme
Welcome to our pit of shame and despair. Amongst Eleven Warriors' constantly shifting cast of writers is a man named Danny. Danny seems new. Danny seems untouched by trouble, a happy-go-lucky fellow just raring for another bite at life's apple. This is going to last another two months, tops:
In a recent B1G conference power ranking by Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, the Buckeyes are listed at number six in the conference behind Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State.
I expect these numbers to change in OSU's favor by the time B1G play opens up against Michigan State on Oct. 1. Yes, Ohio State had a major meltdown against Miami, but this team will get better if the offense can gain some consistency coming out of this week's game against Colorado.
Rittenberg's rankings are pretty reasonable with the way the Buckeyes have played up to this point, but I expect to see OSU ahead of at least Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State later this season. Ohio State has endured much hardship stemming from last December, but this team is much better than sixth in the conference and time will prove that.
That's right: despite barely cracking 200 yards and only eclipsing 13 passing yards because of two pity throws allowed Braxton Miller at the end of the Miami game, OSU is "at least" better than Illinois, MSU, and Michigan. Danny's not sold on this Wisconsin business, and Nebraska's passing game? Eh… a little shaky.
He may actually be right about Michigan but when The Game is played for that all-important eighth win this guy is going to be a mite peeved, and by "a mite peeved" I mean "catatonic on the floor of a 7-11 in Euclid." At least he's not the guy who thinks a 9-3 projection is "worst case."
The 'freude! You like it this week, too. On Bauserman:
I got 3 lil boys all who can kick his ass and get nothing since they got clean records. honestly I bet someone on campus is going to kick his ass.if I knew where he lived he would take a ass whipping for laughing during that gm and f--- all u lil bitches who got somethin to say on here supporting him
Luke Fickell doesn't understand how time works. He doesn't think you can save timeouts, but he does think that he is going to run off as much time as a team trying to kill the clock:
“We still knew we were going to need two scores. Our thought was if we’re going to need two scores, we’re going to need to have the ability to stop the clock offensively,” Fickell said. “They were running (the clock) out.
“If we look back in hindsight, the very last (third down), maybe it would have saved us 30 seconds in our minds and maybe we could have got a little bit of a breather (for the defense, which) is something that I always look back at. Our thought was, ‘Hey, we’re going to do the best we can to try to make sure we have a couple (of timeouts) to score twice.’ ”
This is a breathtakingly stupid thought. Hire this man, OSU. (HT: DocSat)
ND pregame. We missed an impressively overwritten Tom Rinaldi intro for the Michigan-ND game never got aired because the SEC game went late. Bonus bits include full pregame festivities and Brent Musberger rambling semi-coherently despite no one watching him.
I bet Musberger does this on planes. YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE at a half-ounce packet of peanuts.
Road trips. An Ole Miss fan did the wise thing a couple weeks ago and hit up Ann Arbor instead of watching the Fighting Ackbars go at it one week before they'd feature in Vandy's biggest SEC win in 40 years. Overall gist:
Aside from being an incredibly exciting football game punctuated by a tense, high-flying fourth quarter which featured the Wolverines coming back from a 17-point deficit on the back of Denard Robinson's heroics, this number made the trip itself worth it. 114,804 is the largest attendance number ever recorded in the history of NCAA football. I'm sure that, in time, that record will be broken, but until that happens I will be able to proudly boast that I was a part of the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game. That's cool, dammit.
Bell's is enjoyed. He did us the service of getting a good shot of the U MAD Kelly sign:
Also, Orson hit up the LSU-Mississippi State game and reports back with what's left of his cowbell-shattered sanity.
You think we're wafer thin? I'll show you wafer thin. Michigan State's offensive line was a sore spot going into the season and has just been poked by Notre Dame to the tune of 27 rushing yards. That ain't good. The injury situation is worse:
A day after Michigan State announced starting right tackle Skyler Burkland will miss the rest of the season following left ankle surgery, Dantonio said starting center Blake Treadwell and backup tackle Jared McGaha will be sidelined with knee sprains.
Both of the latter are questionable for the M-MSU game on the 15th of October; MSU does get center Travis Jackson back this weekend. Dantonio got his customary shot in at Michigan about it, but if I had to pick between OL situations for that game it's a slam dunk for M, which has two solid backups and a complement of experienced starters. Michigan State just flopped a third defensive tackle—one who was seeing playing time!—to offense in less than eight months.
Michigan's situation. With Toussaint and Barnum's apparently healthy returns the injury situation for Michigan is not bad at the moment. Cam Gordon's has been out but is expected to play against SDSU, as is Brandon Herron. Then you've got Woolfolk's array of comically obvious minor injuries and… that's about it. Knock on wood.
Unfortunately shoddy. I was about to be all about Nate Silver's stab in the dark at the relative sizes of college football fanbases because the Big Ten made out like gangbusters and the M-OSU-PSU troika finished 1-2-3, but a little deeper poke into the numbers reveals they fail some basic sanity checks. Braves & Birds:
I love Silver's writing on politics and baseball, but you can tell from his post that he is not a college football fan. If he were, then he would know that he needs to go back to the drawing board when his methodology produces a conclusion that Georgia Tech has 1,664,088 fans, while Georgia has only 1,098,957 fans. Anyone who follows college football in this market …immediately knows that this number is wrong. Georgia sells out every game in a 90,000 seat venue, regardless of opponent. Georgia Tech struggles to fill a 50,000 seat stadium unless the opponent brings fans. Georgia has a fan base that will make massive donations in order to have the right to buy tickets; Georgia Tech has to offer ticket packages to get casual fans in the door.
That highlights a major bias towards 1) metro areas and 2) nerds, and while we joke about Ohio State's fanbase most of the counties in that state do have power. Can't say the same for a lot of places college football is popular.
There's also this:
When your data includes a note that it is "highly inaccurate" and your results defy common sense it's back to the salt mines.
A ridiculous picture of Ron English for no reason.
Via Philly.com. EMU is at Penn State this weekend.
Etc.: Big East folks are just bombing everything around them. Jim Boeheim more than anyone. On The Banks is in full Kelly mode, except they're seemingly justified because their ham-handed attempt to force Villanova football into the Big East blew it all up. My favorite part is Jack Swarbrick complaining about people doing things that have "very negative consequences" for other schools. Notre Dame has long been known for its teamwork and spirit of share and share alike, which is why they voted down a big rights increase for Big East football.
Jamiemac tries to say nice things about the Big Ten. A couple of cool counter plays Texas ran against UCLA. SEC expansion remains stupid. Craig James media awards are extra spicy this week. Silver featured.
Other stuff: EMU blog Eagle Totem does the Q&A thing with this here blog, MNB. Know Your Foe from the MZone. TTB predicts the annual Mike Cox long run against crappy competition. BWS lays out expectations. Will Campbell features. Surprise! No. M&GB and M&BN both put more effort into their previews than I did.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Eastern Michigan|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
September 17th 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan –29.5|
Q: is "Embrace the Process" the world's worst motivational slogan or Ron English expressing disapproval of Brady Hoke criticism?
A: WHY DID YOU LEAVE TWO DEEP SAFETIES BACK AGAINST ARMANTI EDWARDS YOU TWIT
Run Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
Eastern's only games this year have come against FCS opponents, which tells you something about the program: they aren't even thinking about getting to six wins and a bowl game.
For what it's worth, EMU was 118th in rushing defense last year, giving up over 230 yards per game at over six yards per attempt. When Jerry Kill's NIU Huskies and their #7 rushing attack rolled in at the end of the season, the carnage was impressive: 544 yards and eight touchdowns. NIU averaged over 15 yards a carry!
Key Matchup: There is no key matchup.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: I'm not sure there is one. I'm sure we'll get a heavy dose of I-form. It'll be interesting to see whether or not Michigan can eclipse EMU's YPC average from last year from actual I-form running plays. Survey says… yes, but it will be close.
Pass Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU's pass efficiency defense last year was somehow worse than their rush defense, finishing 119th out of 120. The only team worse? Jay Hopson's Memphis Tigers. EMU gave up 9 YPA, gave up 32 touchdown to two interceptions, and finished 118th in sacks.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Denard accuracy.
Run Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
via the Eastern Echo
This is the solitary thing Eastern is not atrocious at. They are far from good, but averaging 4.1 YPC is almost kind of okay—it's better than several Lloyd Carr offenses managed. I am not going to go into all the reasons this turns me into Brian Kelly.
/beats head against wall
/feels strange kinship with Mike DeBord
Instead I'll emphasize that Eastern couldn't move the ball at all against even horrible BCS level competition last year (2.8 YPC versus Vandy) but that they did decently against the 2009 Michigan defense (3.7 YPC despite losing their QB and putting in a freshman Alex Gillett), which presaged a lot of nasty things. I'll be interested to see how wacky Mattison gets and what the effects are. I'd prefer a whole lot of vanilla just because it will conceal blitz packages for tougher opponents but also because Michigan needs work on being vanilla effectively.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Will Campbell increases his share of playing time; Cam Gordon comes back and plays well; Brandin Hawthorne solidifies his spot at WLB; holding EMU to three YPC.
Pass Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU just missed finishing in triple digits here, managing to creep up to 98th in passer efficiency. Gillett's numbers weren't that horrible—7.1 YPA—except when it came to interceptions, of which he threw 13 in 229 attempts. That's a significantly higher INT percentage than even Denard. Also he was horrible against decent competition, which Michigan may just be in the secondary.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Lots of pressure generated by the defensive line.
Two games, no field goal attempts. I endorse this course of action.
Key Matchup: GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AAAAAA
Double digit spreads against MAC teams don't warrant cat pictures until the current coach loses to one (or a Horror). This is Michigan.
- Eastern Michigan gains any yards.
- Eastern Michigan makes any stops.
- Eastern Michigan does anything right at all.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 (Baseline 5; –1 for Eastern's run D, –1 for Eastern's pass D, –1 for Eastern's pass O, –1 for Ron English against a mobile quarterback, –1 for Of 17 Official Stats The NCAA Tracks Eastern Was In Triple Digits In 11 Last Year.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for NOT AGAIN GOD DAMMIT, +1 for Losing to Ron English With a Mobile Quarterback is Definitely a Sign of the Apocalypse, +1 for I'm Sick Of Showing Up In LOL Photographs On Black Heart Gold Pants, +1 for Indisputable Evidence The Curse Of Letting Bo Die Instead Of Sacrificing As Many Virgins As It Took To Get The Job Done (Sorry, School of Engineering) Persists Despite This Is Michigan, +1 for I Hate Old TJ Hooker Episodes.)
Loss will cause me to... wake up in former Soviet republic married to a goat and happy the only television in the country is hardwired to show old TJ Hooker episodes.
Win will cause me to... experience no emotion whatsoever.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Michigan wins by a lot.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- We run from the I on half of all plays.
- Rawls debuts and does something cool, then disappears to the bench for the rest of the year.
- Everyone reads way too much into whatever Will Campbell does.
- Michigan, 35-10.
Kill it with fire.Last year some horrible, horrible hip-hop artist whose songs should be titled "Making You Want To Die Part VII," "Making You Want To Die Part VIII," and so forth and so on, released some fake pump up video that momentarily panicked the fanbase into thinking we'd Freekbassed ourselves.
[By MGoLaw every mention of We Are ND must be accompanied by We Are ND:
We remain in full compliance.]
We had not. Nor have we this year when some horrible, horrible hard rock outfit attempted to pull the same trick with their song "Making You Want To Die Part IX". Should I even link this monstrosity? I will but only if everyone signs a blood oath to never support the people responsible for this.
/blood oath signing music
All right. It's here. The worst part about all of this is that someday the Assistant Vice Associate Athletic Director For Making Michigan Stadium Wicked Sweet is going to hear one of these things and think it is a good idea instead of a malformed baby we should leave on the mountain to die.
That last part is not a joke. Multiple people have sent Lucy Ann Lance's interview with the new chief marketing officer along because of an ominous passage towards the end of it.
The middle of the article has an extensive discussion of ads in Michigan Stadium and how they will never happen. While I'm grateful for that I wonder if the guys in charge of this stuff have any idea why that's important to the fanbase. I don't think they do:
Lucy Ann: Any other changes that you have coming out regarding branding of the University of Michigan?
Lochmann: Event presentation and how people experience the brand at our events is a big part of building the brand, and we are in the midst of hiring some event presentation folks to really focus on making it a wow experience for our fans who go to basketball, hockey, football, soccer. It’s not just a PA announcement.
Lucy Ann: More entertainment?
Lochmann: Exactly. We really want to make all Michigan Athletics a destination for sports fans.
"It's not just a PA announcement?" Do I have to refer a guy who actually works in the athletic department to the ten-year-old kid who blew his mind at last year's Illinois game? Shouldn't the person in charge of branding Michigan understand it? Michigan does not have "just PA announcements." It has one of the grand old men of the PA business, Carl Grapentine.
The primary reason Michigan fans don't want ads in the stadium is because they distract from the game. The chief marketing officer says he won't put ads in the stadium but looks to "really focus on making it a wow experience."
It already is a wow experience. There are a 110,000 people in a stadium watching Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson or Denard Robinson. Wow has been accomplished. Wow is also accomplished at Yost. Wow is not at Crisler, which is by far the chintziest Michigan sports venue. Make the connection. The chief marketing officer's primary duty should be to recognize and preserve the parts of the Michigan tradition that are unique, not turn everything into a February Knicks game.
I envy Notre Dame fans in this department. They have an iron grip on what they want their stadium experience to be like. It's a little weird that it does not include massive HD replays, but there is no threat someone will promise FREEEEEEE PIZZZZZAAA or play Let The Bodies Hit The Floor at Notre Dame Stadium. There would be a gentle, friendly riot.
Bo finishes. Via Wolverine Historian, a one-hour Michigan Replay special on Bo's last season:
Grimly grim under a steel-grim sky. So you're just skipping along in this article about Mike Hart's initial foray into coaching at Eastern Michigan when Ron English pops up and slaps you with this baby:
“Mike’s strengths were never his physical abilities, they were always his mental abilities, his emotional abilities, his character. That’s what I’ve always loved about him. He’s a no-brainer in this profession as long as he can deal with the hours, the commitment, the movement and the disappointment. There’s a lot of disappointment in this profession.”
English's perspective is informed by being head coach of a school where going 2-10 gets you a "keep up the good work," of course. Pair that with Eastern's gray concrete stadium and it's like being the head coach of North Korea's football team. Watch out for lightning.
And here's everything. Burnt Orange Nation has collected every nasty bit of PR to befall college football in the past year, getting up to 23 separate incidents (Michigan's major-ish violations are included). This is my favorite one:
13) Unranked UConn Cant Sell Fiesta Bowl tickets (December 2010)
In a further indictment of the current system, there were a flood of stories related to schools being unable to sell their allotment of tickets for bowl games. Most notably, UConn resorted to begging fans to buy Fiesta Bowl tickets. Not surprisingly, it didnt work. Later calculations placed their financial losses for the game at $1.66 million. Their actual losses were much higher, as OU kicked their ass and then their coach fled for Maryland. Good times.
The bowl system has successful shoved all the uncertainty onto the college programs they are parasites on, even up to the BCS level.
Etc.: Bleacher Report hires Dan Levy, Dan Rubenstein, Josh Zerkle, and Bethlehem Shoals? What is going on? Gary Danielson declares "landlocked" MSU and Purdue the toughest gigs in the Big Ten. Indiana? Or have people given up on them entirely? He's also a superconference believer, FWIW.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Eastern Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||333.42||91|
|Points Per Game||19.00||108|
|Yards Per Play||5.05||89|
|Yards Per Pass||6.81||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.07||72|
|Playcall Distribution||1.81 Rush:Pass|
Per expectations, Eastern was really bad on offense. Despite being below-average on a yards-per-rush basis, they pounded into the line almost twice as frequently as they passed (adjusted for sacks, they still ran 1.61 times for each pass attempt).
Where they were truly terrible, however, was the passing game. Their yards per pass attempt was slightly boosted by the rarity with which they actually threw it, but the efficiency number was amongst the worst in the nation.
Long story short, Eastern is bad at football (just you wait until we get to the defense).
Alex Gillett started every game for Eastern last year, but that's not to say he saw a whole lot of success: his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception percentage all range from mediocre to horrible. The one area that he did see success? The running game, where he led the Eagles on the ground.
Last year's backup, Devontae Payne, is no longer with the team, meaning that Gillett's backup will be a guy who has yet to play college football.
|Eastern Michigan QBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Gillett was bad last year (except on the ground), and now there is nobody else on the roster who has seen any playing time in college football. Gillett's legs are actually pretty impressive - if you remove sacks, he was near 6 yards/carry - so I gave him a slight bump. Still, as a pure passer, he has a long way to go.
The primary reason Dwayne Priest didn't lead the Eagles in rushing as a senior was an injury absence of three games. That did, however, give a few returning players a chance to step up. Official White Guy Corey Welch got the most carries, but he was outshined by freshman Javonti Greene on a down-to-down basis. Expect Welch to get some carries, but Greene should be the featured back. Dominique Sherrer and Joe Fleming should also get a few carries, and Sherrer chould even see a large role if he stays healthy. Despite all that, Phil Steele projects true freshman Ryan Brumfield to start, but color me a skeptic on that take.
|Eastern Michigan RBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan RBs Receiving 2009|
Grade: 2/5. There's a bit of potential here, with the general EMU-ness of things dragging down expectations a bit. Javonti Greene has shown that he's ready to perform if given the opportunity, and Sherrer has shown off a bit of speed on kickoff returns. Still, this is a results-based grading service, and the Eagles haven't managed to get it done on the ground yet.
Kinsman Thomas was Eastern's most-used wideout last year, but still managed to gain a very-respectable 18 yards per reception. The second-most deployed wideout, Donald Scott, wasn't far behind. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those two combined for fewer than 40 receptions on the year.
With Gillett's favorite target, tight end Ben Thayer, graduating, the wideouts should see an increase in receptions, but will probably a regress to the mean in yards per catch. Garrett Hoskins (whose also-lofty YPC average is boosted by a 73-yard trick play reception) will step into the starting lineup, but it's tough to say whether a second tight end or a new wide receiver will step up to grab the last spot. Expect either Trey Hunter or Kevin Wheeler - who took an injury redshirt last year - to get the nod.
|EMU Receivers 2010|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||30||386||12.87||3|
|Garrett Hoskins (TE)||8||217||27.125||2|
|Josh LeDuc (TE)||17||155||9.12||1|
|Kyle DeMaster (TE)||3||19||6.33||0|
|EMU WRs Rushing 2009|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||1||32||32.00||0|
Grade: 2/5. The Eastern receiving corps has actually proven to be explosive, despite (or in part due to) their lack of opportunities. With three of the top 6 gone, however, those who remain are going to have to step up and maintain their past performance while getting more attention from the defense. I'll believe that can happen when I see it.
Eastern returns three starters (at least part-time) from last year, but there will be some position shuffling going into this fall. Andrew Sorgatz, who has started at left guard for the past two years, switched to center this spring, and redshirt freshman Campbell Allison is expected to take over his old spot. Bridger Buche has started two years at tackle, and will likely reprise his role from last year. Redshirt junior Korey Neal was a part-time starter at right tackle last year, and is expected to start once more (replacing longtime starter Dan Demaster). There are a few options for right guard, with Josh Woods and Orlando McCord strong options.
Grade: 1/5. Though the Eagles didn't give up a lot of sacks last year, a big reason for that is their heavy, heavy slant toward the run over the pass. Seeing as how they were unable to move the ball on the ground despite that emphasis, I'd say this unit was very weak. Losing two starters isn't going to help much, and I think they'll have to pass more (meaning more sacks) and not see much improvement in the ground game.
|Notre Dame Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||454.08||113|
|Points Per Game||43.92||118|
|Yards Per Play||7.26||120|
|Pass Yards Per Game||223.50||66|
|Yards Per Pass||9.00||118|
|Sacks Per Game||0.83||118|
|Rush Yards Per Game||230.58||118|
|Yards Per Rush||6.11||120|
Ladies and gentlemen, defensive guru Ron English!
The only thing Eastern wasn't absolutely terrible at was... having other teams feel bad for them, I guess. They faced the third-fewest defensive plays in the nation (the country's best defense, TCU, saw the fewest, with Minnesota right on their heels), but each of those defensive plays was practically a guaranteed success for the opposing offense.
The pass yards per game look alright... until you realize that teams simply didn't have to pass the ball, because they could get more than six yards every time they handed it off. All told, Eastern was in the bottom three of every metric that matters.
Terrible, horrible defensive team as they have been every year under Ron English, and every year before that.
As you might expect, the defensive line didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last year. At least three starters return alongin addition to a key backup. A pair of seniors "anchor" the middle in Brandon Slater and Jabar Westerman, with their classmate Javon Reese returning on one side. Junior Andy Mulumba will like come off the edge on the other end of the line, with Devon Davis and Brad Ohrman also in the defensive end rotation.
Undersized Kalonji Kashama (whose name you may recognize - he's the younger brother of former Wolverine Alain) can play either inside or outside, but since EMU needs more help on the interior, will probably do most of his damage there. Phil Steele is also high on incoming JuCo Devin Henderson, also an inside/outside guy.
|EMU Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Nobody had more than 30 tackles for the Eagles last year (for comparison, Notre Dame's scheme - which only plays 3 linemen and doesn't expect them to make plays - had 4 guys over 30 tackles, and one over 60), and just about everyone struggled to get penetration. With another year of experience - and not that many key contributors from last year's roster departing - they should improve a bit, but to expect their progression to get anywhere better than "bad" is wishful thinking.
When your team was horrible at defending both the run and the pass last year and you lose your top two tacklers, both of whom were linebacker, you're in serious trouble. Marcus English, a multi-year contributor, seems like the only sure starter. So of course, Phil Steele predicts he'll be displaced by incoming JuCo Sean Kurtz. I think it's more likely that those two will combine at inside and strongside linebacker on the starting unit, leaving the weakside position to Steve Brown. Phil Steele also projects starting spots for a pair of JuCos (meaning his starting linebacker unit for Eastern is composed of 3 junior college players and no returners) Justin Cudworth and Blake Poole. If none of the JuCos can earn starting spots, it'll probably be Matt Boyd on the strongside as well.
|EMU Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 1/5. Jeeeeeeeesus this has a great chance to be a terrible defense, unless Ron English is some miracle-worker who has been sandbagging for the past two years. The returning ilnebackers bring very little to the table, as the two best players are out the door (without so much as a sniff from the NFL). Barring unprecedented individual improvement, or the junior college players stepping in as uber-sleepers, this unit should not expect much success.
Like linebacker, a bad unit lost a couple of its best players. Corner Marcell Rose and safety Martavius Cardwell both return, but the Eagles will have to replace the other two members of their secondary. Willie Williams, a strong safety/LB type, is expected to start at SS, and UCLA transfer Marlon Pollard will probably lock down the other corner spot. There's experience mixed in among the backups, much moreso than at any other position, especially since a number of JuCo players will be added to the mix.
|EMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Marcell Rose (CB)||56||1||1|
|Martavius Cardwell (FS)||46||4||0|
|Willie Williams (SS)||35||4||0|
Grade: 1/5. Eastern Michigan's pass defense, despite losses, has to be better than last year's, if only because there's nowhere to go but up (the whole team had 2 picks last year!). Adding a player who was good enough to sign with UCLA out of high school should be a boost to a team starved for talent, but there's a long way to go to reach "bad," much less "mediocre."
Both EMU specialists from last year return. Jay Karutz will handle the punting (rugby-style, yo), and Sean Graham will reprise his role as the Eagles' field goal kicker.
|Eastern Michigan Kicking 2010|
|EMU Punting 2010|
Grade: 3/5. Neither Eastern Michigan specialist was particularly good last year, but at the same time, neither was a serious liability (and that's a big deal for a team where seemingly everyone else was a liability). With a year of game experience under each of their belts, it's reasonable to expect a bit of improvement.