things go poorly
This is real? Um, so, this is apparently what Michigan is wearing for the Big Chill:
That is hideous. It's going to be the worst thing I ever see a Michigan team wear live. That's not a Wolverine. It's a ferret or something, and the day-glo yellow is something Oregon would be comfortable with, and I can see the 1980s Vancouver Canucks think the shoulder striping is wicked.
Other people like it, I guess, but man… put me in the "no" column.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Depending on how you define luck, Michigan has either been lucky or unlucky. The lucky part: Michigan is 4-0 in close games, though I think defining the UMass game as "close" is a stretch since onside kicks are recovered about 10% of the time when the opponent knows it's coming. If the UMass game was close than Michigan's games against Penn State and Iowa were close since Michigan had ample opportunity to get a stop that would give them a chance to tie.
Anyway, so they're 3-0 in close games but they're also hammering opponents in total yards and have been undone by yet another ugly turnover margin and terrible special teams. Braves and Birds puts together a chart with various interesting numbers:
To the chart we go!
YPP Off. YPP Def. YPP Mar. Sagarin SRS Ohio State 6.1 4.2 +1.9 88.22 15.36 Iowa 6.2 4.9 +1.3 86.17 15.29 Mich. State 6.0 5.2 +.8 79.56 12.16 Wisconsin 5.9 5.4 +.5 79.37 11.59 Illinois 5.1 5.2 -.1 79.29 9.06 Michigan 6.9 6.3 +.6 74.48 5.21 Penn State 5.5 5.9 -.4 73.84 5.02 NW 5.4 5.8 -.4 66.94 -0.63 Indiana 4.7 7.3 -2.6 63.63 -0.08 Purdue 4.2 5.3 -1.1 59.62 -6.07 Minn. 5.0 6.4 -1.4 58.57 -9.43
(Note: the yardage numbers come only from games against BCS conference opponents. This includes games against Notre Dame.)
Michigan's yards per play margin is on par with the weaker teams challenging for the conference title and well clear of the conference rabble, even with a defense far worse than anyone save Indiana and Minnesota. Where Michigan falls apart are the places not found on the chart, in turnovers and special teams. At least this year there's a clear reason for the turnover margin: the defense. Michigan's lost 17 turnovers this year; the NCAA average is 15.75. The defense has only acquired ten. Assuming Denard can lower his interception rate like most quarterbacks do, next year Michigan can finally approach turnover parity if the defense takes the significant step forward it could.
Anyway, B&B pulled out this chart because he'd created one for the SEC as a vehicle to discuss whether Georgia had been unlucky (conclusion: yes) and tried to figure out if the same was true for Michigan. He concludes it's a mixed bag and I agree; Michigan may have been unlucky to suffer scads of turnovers against MSU and Iowa but since a lot of those TOs resulted from Denard's now-established tendency to throw behind his receiver that's more an effect of talent limitations than bloody fate.
There's significantly more wobble in the TO numbers than most anything else year to year but certain things do reliably cause turnovers: quarterback inexperience and pressure. Michigan's had a lot of inexperience, little pressure on the opponent, and little pressure on Michigan. Results are average TO numbers against and terrible for.
Arithmetic, yo. The fundamental flaw with Spread Is Dead rhetoric is a fundamental change in the nature of offense when the quarterback can both run and throw. In an article for the Wolverine, Jon Chait gets the point across:
It's worth keeping all this in mind when you hear sports commentators announce that defenses have "caught up to the spread." It's partially true, but only partially… The part they haven't caught up to is having a quarterback in the shotgun who can read an un-blocked defender and keep the ball on almost any running play. That is the real game-changer in the spread system. It alters the entire arithmetic of the game, allowing the offense to always have enough blockers to account for the defenders in the box, while also forcing defenses into stripped-down pass coverages. Defenses can't catch up to this dynamic because you can't "catch up to" arithmetic.
The most striking thing about the Rodriguez videos everyone pored over in the aftermath of his hire was his assumption about the number of safeties he would face: one… or zero? That's the arithmetic that sees Michigan averaging over six yards a carry along with two other true spread 'n' shreds (Oregon and Auburn) and two other teams whose quarterbacks average just under 100 yards a game (Nevada and Nebraska). At the same time Michigan averages 9.2(!) YPA, because the safety question is now one or zero instead of one or two*.
*(With some limited exceptions, like Iowa. Iowa gave up over 500 yards only to see Michigan thwart itself spectacularly; since the 28 they gave up there was only exceeded by Wisconsin—Arizona got a ton of points on ST—that's kinda sorta a reason the question about safeties has changed.)
Gapping it. Given the first two bullets this table from Doctor Saturday won't be a surprise:
The Mathete's been tracking this disparity too and by his numbers, which go back to 2002, Michigan has a bigger gap between O and D performance than anyone. In my eyes this is a reason to keep Rodriguez around since it should be easier to find an average defense with an established elite offensive mind in place than revamp the program considerably.
Ballin' out of control. If you didn't see this happen you are like me but I can appreciate it in retrospect:
Your offense has the ball on its own 12-yard line with a 30-28 lead and 3:39 to play in the fourth quarter. The defense has just used the first of three timeouts. Your quarterback, who you've already tried to bench on two separate occasions this season before injuries forced him back into the lineup, completes an eight-yard pass on 3rd-and-9. You let the clock run down to 2:50, then call your first timeout. Now facing a 4th-and-1 from your own 19-yard line with a two-point lead and less than three minutes to play, do you:
a) Punt and play defense;
b) Line up like you're going for it in an effort to draw the defense offsides, then use your second timeout and punt if the defense doesn't jump;
c) Seriously, anything other than a punt risks a turnover with the ball already in prime position for the game-winning field goal. Just kick it already;
d) Are we really still debating this?
e) Spit as hard as you can and actually go for it.
Randy Edsall and mansome Jordan Todman went for it, got four yards, and got to kneel out the game after another couple first downs. This is spectacular for the following reasons:
- Todman finished with 37 carries for 220 yards and had already established he was capable of running down Pitt's throat
- Tino Sunseri had completed 20 of 28 passes for 220 yards and had just brought Pitt within two two minutes ago.
- If you don't make it you sell out to stop them from getting a first down and get the ball back with a shot at the win, but…
- It's fourth and one and your tailback has 200 yards. You're going to make it.
You could tell Zook wanted to go for it on several fourth and ones Michigan forced, but the closest he came to pulling the trigger was taking a delay of game on one. A tip of the cap to Edsall for overcoming his dread and getting a well-deserved win. People invariably call this "guts" or "balls" and while it is gutsy it's also the right call. God, I just thought about Lloyd Carr punting from the OSU 34 in 2005.
NEW TOPIC: no Big East team now has fewer than three losses and 8-4 looks like the best case scenario for the conference champion. Fire the Big East.
Scrub is a guy who can't get no love from me. Pro bowl cornerback supposed height chart from Touch The Banner:
Not much to tell except once you start getting shorter than 5'10" your shot at the super big time gets dim. I'd like to see an equivalent of this with All Conference teams to see what the breakdown is there. I bet it's shorter.
Four verts. Remember that second and twenty two Illinois converted easily? Yeah, that was four verticals against cover three, I think, and that didn't work so well. Here's a primer on what to do about it—mostly get those linebackers ten yards deep as soon as they read pass. In that down and distance that should have been "before the snap," but Michigan had them all tight and they didn't get sufficient distance, or a chuck, and Vinopal was way too deep, and bang.
Etc.: Soony Saad shot Michigan past MSU in the Big Ten soccer tournament yesterday despite Justin Meram getting a second yellow for celebration after he tied the game. They play Wisconsin today for a shot at the final. The bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace from last weekend. Holdin' the Rope reminisces about childhood visits to West Lafayette. An interview with Jon Falk.
Tuesday: In Your City, If It's New York. I'll be in NYC Tuesday to talk about the team and sheepishly admit what I thought the past two years. The event is supposed to be somewhere around this page, but I can't find it without a login. Details:
3rd Annual Football Season Kick-off Party with MGoBlog's Brian Cook
Date: Tuesday, August 24
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Brother Jimmy's, 116 East 16th Street (between Irving & Park)
Cost: FREE for pre-registered AAUM members, and $20 for all others online through Tuesday, August 18. Day-of door pricing will be $25 for everyone. Register at http://alumni.umich.edu/event/?2262bf16-8fbe-4d22-befa-563be5d594ae
InformationDue to popular demand, the alumni club has once again invited sports blogger Brian Cook to return to NYC to spread his knowledge of all-things Michigan football and preview the 2010 season. Come out to meet and mix with your fellow Maize and Blue football fans!
Contact: Alex Trambitas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, I wouldn't pay 20 bucks to hear me talk either. Hope you're in the alumni club.
I find it sad*. I wish this didn't have an incongruous backing track—I actually checked my tabs in case some highlight reel was going in another—but here's Bo blowing up during the '89 Illinois game:
Woo ha! Michigan would win 24-10 en route to the Rose Bowl.
They're back except they're different and probably uglier. OSU will again wear wack Nike uniforms for The Game. Ohio State fans are suitably appalled:
Do you hate things that are good? Great, me too! We have so much in common. In fact, our friends at Nike have taken it upon themselves to market to folks just like us, people with (or without!) disposable income who enjoy kitsch, tasteless things.
As such, the university announced Tuesday that for a second straight year, the slow and steady commercialization of The Game will evidently proceed accordingly. This season, Ohio State is widely expected to take the field in a scarlet variety of the same faux-throwback-to-the-future-OMGboomstyle-backs the team rocked in conquering the rebel occupied forest moon of
EndorAnn-Arbor last November.
By 2015 The Game will be Rollerball. It will star LL Cool J, and TV people will love it.
But hey, at least that effort to have a terrible phone company be a title sponsor was swiftly demolished when fans revolted. I'm not sure why the same hasn't happened with this—think of what it will look like in Getty Images in 20 years!—but if there was any ever debate about which team had the more iconic uniforms, it's over now. If Michigan tried to wear anything other than the home blues they've worn since 1565, you'd find whoever made that decision strapped to a donkey with a sock in his mouth and GPS directions to Columbus the next day.
That is only a silver lining to a dark cloud of stupidity, though. Anyone who is still angry that Michigan decided to take way more money from Adidas: you are nuts.
Acceptable? Wha? Penn State fans have been complaining up a storm about the idea they'd get swapped into the Essentially West division of the Big Ten; I've been doing the same about the idea of getting Ohio State as a cross-divisional rival. Will we ever get along? Maybe. Slow States may have put together a division setup that works for everyone:
Division A: Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern
Division B: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois
This necessitates the cross-division rivals, which bleah, but I look at it and think "not horrible," as do Penn State fans. The only problem is breaking up the Wisconsin-Iowa game (Iowa-Minnesota is the protected game) but they do get Nebraska instead. I don't think anyone would have a major problem with this arrangement except "TV people," who can go jump in a lake since their idea of thinking long term is next week.
Remain calm! Skepticism about Kevin Newsome is totally rooted in jealousy and bitterness instead of "repeating what Penn State sources say":
A source close to the program told The Patriot-News earlier in the week that Bolden, the true freshman from Michigan, is clearly the most talented of PSU's four quarterbacks.
Joe Paterno may still settle on former walk-on Matt McGloin as his starter for the Sept. 4 opener against Youngstown State because of McGloin's familiarity with the offense.
So that's a true freshman and a walk-on in front of Newsome, who "has not performed well" to date. It'll be interesting to see how Bolden does on multiple levels, since Michigan chose to pursue Gardner over him and Tim saw him a lot in high school and was resoundingly unimpressed.
They grow moohaha. Check out this bizarre hockey rink:
That's from the NHL's development camp, where they're testing out all kinds of weird stuff including giant cyclopean faceoff circles and—tingle—super-thick blue lines. Most comments about the latter (which I've been advocating for years in my oversigning-level campaign against hockey offsides) center on the expansion of the offensive zone:
Wider blue lines to increase the size of offensive zone -- I've always liked this idea. In widening the lines, there's more room to keep the puck in the zone when it goes out to the line, but the zone itself remains the same size and the neutral zone doesn't shrink. It's an idea whose time has come, but only if the linesmen is vigilant in getting into position to make the close calls.
This is a benefit, but it's an ancillary one. The major asset of XXL blue lines is a serious reduction in those nothing offsides calls where one team is trying to rush the puck into the zone and a guy is three inches off. A thicker blue line increases the demilitarized zone and should reduce the number of interesting rushes killed off in favor of a neutral-ice faceoff and inevitable dump-and-chase.
The guy above gives that rule change a slim chance of passing because it's "too radical," unfortunately.
Etc.: You can now mic bands. Will this matter? Probably not since last year's whinefest featured a bunch of audio engineers who described how difficult this was in detail. MATW fills in another "of the decade" blank with the top games.
CEASE PANIC ONCE MORE. See, I do learn: the most recent twitter panic was a report from Devin Gardner that Denard Robinson had cut off his dreads, and I refrained from having requesting mass panic. MGoUser Raback Omaba stakes his hard-earned Dorsey-commit rep on this report that takes us down from DEFCON 2:
Reports of him shorning them and sporting a "lil boosie fade" were premature. Denard merely trimmed his dreads and styled them differently. However he maintains his trademark Denard Robinson dreadlocks. He did not get a fade, his dreads are still there. Significant amounts of dilithium remains hanging from his head, perhaps more effective than before. Let's worry about football now rather than carry on about hairstyles of future Heisman winners. Move on. Denard still has dreads
He has a fade and dreads? The magic of Denard is ever-expanding.
RESUME PANIC. These aren't happening but the asked-for horrifying new jersey mockups have arrived and are terrible enough to cause you to run around screaming:
These will happen someday, probably when we're flying around in jet cars and pushing a button at our jobs. You know, when Denard Robinson doesn't seem fast.
Jihadexpansion update. Mary Sue Coleman talked to a bunch of alumni at a function in Boston recently that a couple of MGoUsers report back from. Some small amount of detail on the second-to-last event in the NCAA whatnot:
Pres. Coleman stated that UM will be announcing its self-imposed sanctions by the end of the month. She indicated that there was cross communication between the coaching staff and the compliance people. The coaching staff thought they'd been given the green light, whereas the compliance people thought that a different question was being asked. She said that unlike reported in some places, at best the overage amount would amount to roughly 2 hours a week. She also predicted that many football programs across the US will be dropping compliance people to avoid danger of giving "coaching advice."
A later post in the thread gives the 24th as the date on which Michigan will send back the report and announce whatever they're self-imposing. If it's in line with previous violations of this nature Michigan will have to give back the hour overages two-to-one and may have to forgo the use of a coach for some period of time. Assorted minor items will be tacked on; the guess here is that no scholarship penalties will result except possibly a single one this year that's more symbolic than anything—Michigan won't be able to get up past 84 this year anyway.
An old guarantee. MGoVideo gets in on the WH gig by providing a youtube embed of the 1986 edition of The Game featuring Jim Harbaugh's famous guarantee:
Stick around afterwards for a quarterback comparison that Harbaugh dominates on completion percentage not not looking like Sloth.
Upset machine. Michigan alum Mike Cammalleri is rocking Eastern Conference heavyweights as the Montreal Canadiens go on the NHL's annual Cinderella playoff run, and putting his name amongst some of the sport's all-time greats in the process:
With seven goals in a seven-game series victory over the defending Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Cammalleri equaled a team record for tallies in a single playoff series shared by Maurice (Rocket) Richard (1944 and 1958), Jean Beliveau (1956), Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion (1957), Guy Lafleur (1975) and Marcel Bonin (1959)�all of them but Bonin long established members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
How's that for company?
Impressive, rhetorical question guy. Impressive indeed. Here's Cammalleri's seventh and final goal of the Pens series, the eventual game-winner:
(HT: South Bend Wolverine, who we all feel for deeply.)
After a scary injury last year that saw Bree Evans lie motionless on the ground after a home-plate collision in an exhibition game against State, she's returned to the field hale, hearty, and hitting. She's now batting .365 as a sophomore, second-best on the team. The official site has deployed its feature machine in response:
The softball team is now 44-6, 16-1 in the conference, and is cruising towards another top seed in the NCAA tournament. This weekend's regular season finale at Iowa will be televised live by the BTN at 6 on Friday and 4 on Saturday.
UPDATE: ABORT. REPEAT: ABORT PANIC. RESUME YOUR DAY TO DAY LIVES. CEASE HOARDING CLIF BARS. REMOVE NEIGHBOR'S DOG FROM OVEN.
Finally something from twitter other than players complaining about how lame the party they're at is:
Presumably this means there will be new road jerseys because changing the home ones would cause frogs to rain from the sky and the Huron River to run red with blood. I can't wait for the piping/bib controversy that will engulf the month of July. What will it be this time?
- Numbers will be replaced with hieroglyphs depicting wolverines in various states of repose, anger, and triumph.
- The pants will contain a legend for the hieroglyphs…
- …and a treasure map!
- Bamboo socks.
- One shoulder will have epaulets.
I expect the paint crew will have mockups of potential new jerseys ("it's a cross between the Wild's third jerseys and Barcelona!") in short order. Then we have only to wait to see how tearfully accurate our sarcastic exaggerations are. Come, Armageddon, come.
Okay, he's enrolled. Now strike! Devin Gardner finally managing his early enrollment has spurred not one but two columns echoing a theme from this blog. It's "please God, no more freshman quarterbacks." Angelique Chengelis:
So former Inkster star Devin Gardner has enrolled at Michigan, and the potentially next great quarterback will participate in spring practice and compete for the starting job this fall.
Operative word: Compete.
And the Daily's Andy Reid:
So, Devin Gardner is officially on campus — but be careful what you wish for, Wolverine fans. He’s not the answer for next season.
I agree with both takes, as is obvious anyone who's been reading this site's annoyingly persistent demand to redshirt Gardner if at all possible. I've read a couple other evaluations of Gardner's recent play that jive with what I though I saw in the later editions of the MGoCreeperVan's Gardner highlight videos: his throwing motion degraded over the course of the year from the very pro-style delivery I saw in Inkster's opener against Pioneer to the shotput pushing motion that was more prevalent in the state championship game. I don't think Gardner got a lot of dedicated QB coaching at Inkster and will probably need a year of constant correction to get his mechanics back to the point they were at when he was the #1 QB in the country to Rivals.
Is it really not that bad? I basically share the same opinion most people seem to have about this Michigan class: it's short on blue chips and—on paper—the worst recruiting class since Kelly Baraka and Reggie Benton were the highlights of the lame 2001 group. In terms of production on the field, Lloyd Carr's last two classes are probably worse for reasons that aren't anyone's fault, but at least when those kids were in high school people thought they were pretty good.
But actually it might not be that big a deal. This was created by a Rivals poster elegantly named "Stinky P1nky" on the 21st. [Update: FWIW, the poster in question first put this chart on The Mainboard.] It is thus a tiny bit dated but the changes since then are small and the resulting chart is an interesting one:
Michigan's class is #11 nationally if you average out the four major services that do these things, though I'm not that familiar with MaxPreps's rankings. (They're probably a little better than that now since the Black commit temporarily bumped them a spot on Scout and Rivals, but then again they'll probably fall by signing day as they're almost full and other teams have more room to add players.) Notre Dame is just behind M and probably dropped after losing a couple of high profile recruits, one of whom is a four-star defensive end from Indiana who goes to a Catholic high school. Harbaugh can recruit a little bit.
This doesn't take class sizes into account very well and thus probably overstates the class quality, but at the very least it's a lot of solid players who will help Michigan solidify the roster, banish walk-ons to the scout team, and put them on a talent footing at or above the Wisconsin-Iowa range in which it's obviously possible to have an excellent team. If and when Michigan gets back there and the maelstrom of negativity surrounding Rodriguez subsides, a recruiting bounce would have them back at their traditional level. And last year's class, the first that Rodriguez was wholly responsible for, certainly indicates that is where Rodriguez would like to go.
The fudge factor. Now to throw some cold water on the above positivity with a seemingly unrelated Notre Dame commitment. A relatively anonymous TE/OT from Kentucky named Tate Nichols is committed to Stanford, but then backs off and switches to Notre Dame. His rankings then:
Two of the three main recruiting sites considered Nichols a tight end recruit and as such didn't slot him very high. Both Scout and Rivals tabbed Nichols as a 2-star tight end recruit with Scout considering him the 52nd overall TE. ESPN did list him as an offensive lineman, giving him 3-stars, a 75 grade rating, and a ranking as the 101st overall offensive tackle recruit.
His rankings now:
Update: These were his rankings on Saturday when he committed. Today, Tuesday morning, Scout has changed him to a 3-star offensive line prospect and the #71 overall OT recruit.
Would this have happened if Nichols switched his commitment to Kentucky? I seriously doubt it. But when it's Notre Dame or Michigan picking up a who-dat type recruit that guy tends to grab stars almost instantly. This year Michigan saw it with Carvin Johnson, Jake Ryan, and, to a lesser extent since he's still two stars on Rivals, Ray Vinopal. All of those guys were unranked or two stars until their Michigan commit prompted a re-evaluation.
That's not to say that the guys who got bumps didn't deserve them, but it's obvious that committing to a primo school causes the sites to re-evaluate your game. San Diego State commits are not afforded this privilege.
Speaking of Jibreel Black. Useful: Touch the Banner has a scouting report in which Brandon Graham gets name-checked. Useless: remember these guys?
Apparently part of the Rodriguez rebuild is getting a couple of defensive linemen whose names combine in a funny way when they're on the bench: Michigan has just recruited guys named "Black" and "Ash." They should go the whole nine yards and invite Ball State running back Brandon Kish to walk on and then have poker pro Tony Ma hang around on the sidelines.
Kramer was defending on the left wing in front of Michigan's bench when Laval Lucas-Perry swung his elbow high, forcing Kramer to bob out of the way.
Seconds later, Michigan called a timeout and Kramer walked toward Purdue's huddle motioning to his arm and patting his elbow. That was likely directed to the officials.
Apparently, Kramer also told coach Matt Painter. Painter -- spouting mad -- then appeared to go toward Michigan's bench. He was held back by official Steve Olson, who had his hand on Painter's chest. Painter appeared to be jawing at Michigan assistant coach John Mahoney. Mahoney came over to Painter and appeared to pat him on the back and then walk away.
And by "incident" we mean "non-incident." Was this on TV? I don't recall this, though I admit that for a good chunk of the second half I was not paying super-close attention. I imagine a gritty gritadillo like Kramer spends a lot of time dodgy elbows that want to go where his craggy, pore-laden gritface happens to be. A little hissy from your coach about not actually getting hit is a little weird even if he got clocked last year. He's Gritopher Gritmer: he likes elbows in the face. Makes him feel alive.
Side note: Mahoney is the assistant who got T-ed up last year. He's yappy.
It's a matter of national security. The Detroit News reports back on their efforts to FOIA something from MSU about the Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown:
Most details of the altercation at the Rather Hall dormitory, however, were blacked out on the document. Officials cited sections of the FOIA law that protect an individual from unwarranted invasion of privacy and legal proceedings in an ongoing criminal investigation as reasons why most of the information was withheld.
Officials also declined to reveal details of six 911 calls made around the time of the incident, video surveillance footage in the dormitory, results of polygraph tests and taped interviews with players.
This is not surprising given the lengths to which universities go to avoid FOIA compliance, and I said earlier that the four additional departures from Michigan State's team seemed like a stiff price to pay. I do wonder if some of the big names returning to the team (Cunningham and Dell, mostly) might be the beneficiaries of a double standard that Michigan State would not like to see in the public eye.
Also: six 911 calls. !!!
Meanwhile, two more Spartans have been charged. They are DT Oren Wilson and perpetually troubled walk-on Myles White. White 1) was involved in the first PREWB, 2) just plead guilty to public urination, and 3) is now involved in PREWB II. Surely this must be the end for him. He's a walk-on. I track because I fret: Myles White is incoming Michigan tailback Austin White's brother.
Wilson started all last year as the NT, FWIW.
Small disaster apparently averted. Depending on what you believe, 2010 hockey recruit Jacob Fallon either got the boot or voluntarily left the NTDP, thus throwing his immediate future in flux and opening up a possibility he would play in the CHL. That is apparently not going to happen. Fallon has latched on with the Indiana Ice of the USHL and will presumably be in Ann Arbor next year unless Dean Lombardi drafts him and then kidnaps his mom.
Good work, Nike. This kind of stuff is why I'm glad Michigan got away from Nike: