Hey. Life rolls on. Thank you to those who have expressed condolences.
One of the running jokes on the podcast this year has been theorizing that the athletic department has someone specifically dedicated to trolling me. Evidence: "In The Big House" did not return until after the nonconference season had convinced me it was gone, and Michigan waited until the last possible moment to change Jordan Kovacs away from #32. Taken with the deployment of Denard and Devin against Ohio State, this is strong evidence indeed.
If they are deep enough inside that they knew what I was writing up this morning and chose that hour to release the latest in the ever-growing line of uniformz, I am terrified because the sleeper agent is probably me.
Anyway. We knew this was coming because Michigan's promise after they announced the Alabama uniformz was that they would not screw with the jerseys during the regular season. They are here. If you have not been on the internet, here they are:
They finally screwed with the helmet. Also Ramzy pointed out that there seem to be four different shades of yellow on this thing.
Yes, yes, the kids love it, which is why Alabama and USC are struggling to recruit these days. It is possible the kids are not quite so stupid as that meme thinks they are and make decisions based on things other than wearing goofy alternates a couple of times a year. Your assertion as to what the kids love does not seem to have much bearing on where they go to school. Alabama did not need fancy duds to annihilate Michigan earlier this year.
What gets me is that many iconic uniforms are not being futzed with, including the aforementioned teams plus Texas, Florida State, Penn State, and Oklahoma*, but the people running those athletic departments must be wrong and the man who brought us pasta inside a bread bowl must be right. I do not agree that this is necessarily the case, Kids Love It Arguer Guy.
I mean, the brand-manic NFL has strict restrictions on third jerseys, with many of the teams deploying them once or twice… ever. NFL teams are prohibited from wearing alternates in the Super Bowl, and only the Chargers have ever deployed them in a playoff game, probably because the Chargers' alternates are themselves a great tradition revived from the 1960s.
It's no real loss if Michigan looks dumb playing in Tampa, but I'll be sad if Michigan plays a Rose Bowl in anything other than classic Schembechler blue. And if you wouldn't want to wear it at the Rose Bowl, why would you want to wear it anywhere?
I promise to write another version of this post in August when alternate uniforms for the ND game are announced, because it is tradition, and tradition is important. #thisguygetsit
*[All of those teams have largely if not entirely opted out. Oklahoma wore some all-whites that were roundly panned in 2009 and scrapped the concept, and Texas altered their helmets to honor Darrel K Royal this year but that's a whole different thing everyone should be okay with. IIRC Alabama did have some sort of subtle houndstooth thing in one game. In each case any uniform alterations were one-offs or close to it, not Michigan's parade.]
Not the Onion. News headline:
MSU challenges officials to take control of game vs. Michigan
Are you man enough to call another 100 yards in personal fouls on Michigan State, refs?
Also, Tyler Hoover is supposed to return to the lineup at DT. Not sure how much impact that will have.
Also not the Onion. This is where the rivalry is at the moment:
Michigan prepping for a 'figurative fist fight' in physical tilt vs. Michigan State
More like LITERAL KNIFE FIGHT AMIRITE.
Also also not the Onion. We have a formidable secondary?
Michigan's formidable secondary 'looking to get after it' against MSU
I'm going to go away and hope this is true forever.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THINGS ARE CAUSED. Winner?
Former Michigan star Mike Hart's infamous comment sparked Michigan State's resurgence in series
Worst article is easy. Matt Charboneau's flufftastic puff piece on Gholston, which does the same thing all attempts to defend Gholston do: focus on the meaningless punch that brought a suspension while ignoring the Denard helmet twist and the Lewan arm bar. No one cares about hitting a guy in a helmet with your fist in the heat of whatever. It's unfortunate that the Big Ten focused on that instead of the truly dirty stuff.
He's just misunderstood, you see, and he has kid, so he must be an awesome dude. They don't just hand out kids to anyone. You have to be licensed.
Maybe he just went crazy that one time but if you're going to write an article about it at least have the honesty to detail the things that happened.
Uniformz? A photo of a chrome-tastic MSU helmet is floating around the internets and the rumor is they will be deployed Saturday:
Hopefully Michigan doesn't respond in kind as they did last year, if this is actually a thing that is being worn. I worry that someone somewhere is saying "we have to bridge the chrome gap!" and not being shot.
MSU scouting bits. Highly recommended are Ross Fulton's breakdowns of what Ohio State did against MSU. The MSU defense:
MICHIGAN STATE: LOADED FOR BEAR
As expected, Michigan State adopted an aggressive style that focused upon attacking Ohio State's inside zone read. Michigan State generally operated from their 40 over defense with their Will linebacker walked over the slot receiver.
The Spartan Will linebacker's role was not to cover the slot receiver, however. Instead, he was tasked with accounting for Braxton Miller on the zone read, allowing the defensive end to crash the zone play. In essence, the Spartans ran a constant scrape exchange.
In response, OSU shot their H-back outside the defensive end and hit the edge or used him to block the crashing DE and read the slot-oriented LB, or they used outside runs that used the aggression of that DE to open up the corner. Expect Michigan's inside zone to be a maintenance play that picks up a few yards, allowing other runs to bust for larger gains.
Tremendous also has a breakdown, one that focuses on the defensive tackles—who are not good, thus the Kittredge switch this week. Included are many amazing displays of Spartan DTs put on skates by the OSU OL. I'm with Mr. Larson: block Gholston, option someone else, screw rollouts, especially naked ones.
Fulton's item on the MSU offense vs the OSU defense is a little less relevant because Michigan is mostly a one-high cover three defense and OSU is transitioning to cover four. Hankins did clobberate the MSU run game as a three tech—Will Campbell pad level versus bad guard play come on down?
BONUS: Fulton breaks down what the hell happened to OSU's defense against Indiana.
OH BOY. Hopefully this is Brandon not ruling out anything when someone brings up the idea of a neutral site game in a Q&A and not actually wanting to continue college football's worst trend:
But he did say Wednesday that he remains open to all possibilities for the newly-created void on the Wolverines' schedule beginning in 2015.
Whether it's a home-and-home with a big-name opponent, or another possible neutral site game, similar to this year's Cowboys Classic against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
"We're looking at both," Brandon said. "The key thing for us is to try and make sure we're playing in a venue that gives our fans access, and economically, provides us the best opportunity that justifies going on the road.
"We put 110 or 112,000 people every game in our venue, it's hard to go play in front of 35,000 people."
Ugh, ugh, ugh. A neutral site game gives fans less access than a home and home because it's a game in the middle of nowhere in a smaller stadium. No more neutral site games—we renovated the stadium for a reason, I assume, and not "so Slippery Rock can play there."
This isn't that hard: see MSU and OSU, currently loading up with quality nonconference home and homes not against opponents with 35k seat stadiums… because those don't exist in BCS conferences. Brandon must wake up at night tossing and turning at the agony of having to go to UConn next year. We get it. We also don't care. No more neutral sites.
Oh, man. Don't listen to them, Dylan Larkin.
While perusing my Twitter feed, I came across this tweet from U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team goalie Thatcher Demko and reply by Michigan commit Evan Allen:
“@thatcher_hockey: Larkin is Screetch” hahahha omg he IS screetch
via Michigan Hockey Net
Kids in high school still know who Screech is?
Mac Bennett stepping up. If Michigan can ever ice their full-strength defensive corps it will be a thing to behold($):
"Our guys liked his poise out there, his ability to handle and move the puck," said Trevor Timmins, Montreal's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a gifted skater. That's the one thing that he can rely on to get him to the NHL. He's not a big guy so he's had to add some size and strength, but he's in a great situation at Michigan, with some outstanding coaching, and we're seeing that development there.
"Similarly to Greg Pateryn last season, this season Mac is being leaned on to log a lot of ice time, and to play in all situations - be a leader on the team - and that provides Mac with greater confidence in his ability."
Wojo zings. Wojo zings:
This annual clash has turned into a nasty affair, which can happen when brothers scrap and egos fray. It wouldn't be this way if the Spartans had quietly gone about their business, winning two or three times a decade. But then Mark Dantonio showed up with his deep playbook of scowls, much deeper than his offense's playbook, and started ticking people off.
The Wolverines don't appreciate the Spartans' audacity to physically manhandle them. And the Spartans don't appreciate the Wolverines' continuing attempt to pretend their Ohio-based rival is more important.
Common Michigan State plea: "Heeyyyy, we're right heeeeere! Try to beat us! At least look at us!"
Penn State's "fourth down bravery" may have something to do with the fact they have the worst punting and kicking in the country. The Bylaw Blog advocates athletics majors. The new NHL CBA might be better for college programs than the old one. Still waiting on the massive imbalance in AHL eligibility to get sorted out. Genuinely Sarcastic back from the grave. DIAMOND STONE is visiting this weekend. He's a five-star 2015 basketball post.
The freshmen, new uniforms, and oh my god what in the hell
Today's basketball media day was perfectly described by another reporter as "not a newsmaking event*," which seems a tad ironic but that's Michigan athletics these days. You can tell the freshmen have already been coached not to say anything interesting, and I'm not even going to bother transcribing the player roundtables as a result. Just imagine the football pressers and replace "football" with "basketball" and you have a good idea of what you missed.
I will, however, post some highlights from John Beilein's press conference.
- The team has had 16 hours of summer workouts in addition to the usual weight training, plus 12 hours of recent skill training. Starting Friday they practice 20 hours a week.
- The William Davidson Player Development Center is almost complete. It's a "sensational venue" to practice in while Crisler is being redone.
- Beilein's had one look at Crisler about a month ago, and says "it looks like a brand new building, like we built a $200 million building." Calls it a tremendous asset for recruiting and very fan-friendly.
- Mitch McGary is helping replace the energy void left by Zack Novak, who he says was "really instrumental in everyone's life."
- It's too early to name a starting five. During the first two weeks of practice he'll put two or three freshmen on one team, two or three on the other, and watch how they adjust. The last few weeks were much more for skill development than team development. Probably won't name a lineup in the next 2-3 weeks.
- Trey Burke is up to 190 pounds, and it's a good 190. Praises strength coach Jon Sanderson for his work with the whole team (I can say from seeing him up close that Tim Hardaway Jr. looks very impressive physically right now, definitely bigger than last year).
- Tim Hardaway Jr. has "taken a little bit of Novak," in that you can hear his presence on the court.
- "This is a good rebounding team." Has more of an inside presence than past Beilein squads, McGary and Jordan Morgan in particular. The offense may be more predicated around offensive rebounding as a result.
- The freshmen are very coachable, and have been getting help from both the coaching staff and their fellow players. He says the team is as intelligent as any he's had. Cited Glenn Robinson III specifically as a player who's picked up new information and put it to use on the court ten minutes later. At the end of a recent practice, Josh Bartlestein, Corey Person, and Eso Akunne each had pulled freshmen aside to teach them something.
- When he got here, the question in the Big Ten was who was going to be the sixth or seventh team into the NCAA tournament. Now the fight may be over who will be the eighth or ninth team in.
- When asked about how he'll handle high expectations and preseason rankings: "I think John Beilein is always going to have a chip on his shoulder."
- As for if he thinks they're a top five team: "I don't pay any attention to that." Says he doesn't watch other teams practice, so how could he know? [Good point, coach.]
- There's four, five, maybe even six players who could see time at the four or the five. Loves having the versatility, notes the importance of the four—Kevin Durant and LeBron James were playing the four in the NBA playoffs last year. Last year he didn't feel he had a choice at the four after Jon Horford got hurt.
- The goal is to win the Big Ten title. [Of course it is. Fergodsakes.]
- Nik Stauskas has "a natural ability to find the bottom of the basket," but what makes him a difficult guard is that he can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. Also showing the ability to keep his head up and find the open man, and he's putting in effort on defense because he knows that's how he'll see the floor.
- Last year there wasn't a player who felt comfortable spelling Trey Burke as the primary ballhandler. There's a lot more confidence in Spike Albrecht being able to come in and run the point to give Burke a rest. Stauskas and Caris Levert can also put the ball on the floor.
- Beilein used most of the 16 hours of summer workouts on offense. The staff watched the NBA much closer than ever before and cut more NBA film than in the past to see how they utilize two post players.
- The team hasn't spoken about the loss to OHIO in the NCAA tournament. They're very proud of the Big Ten championship and will talk about the tourney loss if they get back there this year.
- The only injury is a "foot stress issue" for Corey Person. Otherwise there are a few nagging issues but nothing major.
- No captains have been named yet.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. will split time between the two and the three. Lots of options on the roster, so they'll wait and see how things shake out during practice.
That about covers it. Here's a shoe:
*said unnamed reporter even preceded that with "as expected"; we're not bitter!
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, the latest on Leon McQuay III, the 2014 ESPN 300 Watch List, and more.
Butt Turns Tables, Defeats Taco
Remember the picture of former Michigan safety Carvin Johnson as the saddest of sad pandas after losing the state title game? Taco Charlton also hates losing, and after his Pickerington Central squad fell 37-0 to Pickerington North—the first time in six tries that North defeated their crosstown rivals—he's the next in line for Agony of Defeat Photo of the Year:
Much like Johnson in that state title game, Charlton was phenomenal in a losing effort, recording ten tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing on offense, defense, and special teams for the Tigers. In the end, though, it was fellow Michigan commit Jake Butt, who finished with nine catches for 92 yards and a TD as well as a crucial fourth-down sack, celebrating a rivalry win on Central's home turf. I'll have much more on this game, including more photos and video highlights, in tomorrow's Future Blue Originals.
Speaking of outstanding two-way efforts, Dymonte Thomas led Marlington to a 34-14 victory with 249 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries and also recorded an interception—all after suffering an ankle injury that forced him out of the first offensive series. Thomas also threw an eight-yard touchdown pass. You can see highlights from the game at the 4:30 mark of this video.
Channing Stribling continued to show why he's regarded as a fast-rising prospect, returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown for Matthews Butler. According to TomVH, Stribling now has five interceptions in six games on the season as well as a kickoff return for a TD and a receiving TD.
We haven't heard much from Wyatt Shallman, who's been battling injuries, thus far this season, but he had a breakout performance on Friday. Playing defensive tackle, Shallman finished with six tackles, four hurries, a sack, and an interception (returned for 20 yards), via TomVH.
DeVeon Smith rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 carries in a 37-14 victory for Warren Howland. Several other commits found paydirt over the weekend, including Mike McCray (77 yard TD catch along with five solo tackles), Gareon Conley (TD catches of 58 and three yards), Ross Douglas (13-yard TD run), Ben Gedeon (71 rush yards and two TDs), and JaRon Dukes, whose 10-yard TD reception provided the winning points in a 7-6 victory.
In other commit news, David Dawson announced on Twitter that he's been invited to represent Team USA in the International Bowl. Also, Magnus has an interesting discussion about Wyatt Shallman's college position over at TTB; I agree with him that Shallman stands out much more on offense, and I believe he'll stick at running back.
[The latest on McQuay's visit plans and more after THE JUMP.]