"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
I am once again shamelessly ripping off The Dugout. If these ever become any type of popular, I'll probably quit hogging MGoBlog megabits and move them to my own site, the always entertaining Wolverine Liberation Army, at http://wolverineliberationarmy.blogspot.com. Cheap plugs!
Safety_Cone: hii Justin i wuz wonderin if u want play some video game with me
Feaginator: I would love to David, what do we have? I’ll have you know though, I am a competitor. I will beat you mercilessly. I love competition.
Safety_Cone: my mom bought me dis game its called ncaa
Feaginator: Why are you wearing a helmet?
Safety_Cone: momma doesn’t want me to fall and hurt myself again like the time I tried to chase the laser pointer and hit my head on the air conditioner
***Threet_Level_Midnite has entered***
Threet_Level_Midnite: Whats up dudes can I play
Safety_Cone: sure u can take my spot i don’t mind watching momma said i should share
*** Feaginator tosses controller to Threet_Level_Midnite
***The controller has gone over Threet_Level_Midnite and out the window
Feaginator: I threw that further than you could have. Do you want to compete? Let’s have a competition.
Threet_Level_Midnite: What are we supposed to do now?
Safety_Cone: is ok guys i have battleship, operation, and the
omega virus which talks and is super neat
Feaginator: You are drooling on yourself
***Safety_Cone has hit Feaginator over the head with the Battleship box***
Safety_Cone: not the momma! not the momma!
Threet_Level_Midnite: Chain Gailey used to do that to me
Feaginator: This is ridiculous. I’m going to play the computer.
*** Feaginator is down 76-3 at the half against Sam Houston St.***
Threet_Level_Midnite: Good work, maybe you should study the playbook
/grabs playbook from messenger bag
Feaginator: Why does your playbook say “Property of P. White” on it? And why does it have so many pages?
Threet_Level_Midnite: Most of the pages are google maps directions to Idaho St University. I think there is a message but I’m not sure what it is. What does yours look like?
*** Feaginator holds up three notecards stapled together***
Threet_Level_Midnite: First, you drew these yourself. Second, two plays are QB draws, one to the left and one to the right. Third, the last card just says “COMPETE” on it 27 times.
Feaginator: I am a competitor. I love to compete.
Safety_Cone: my playbook is on the clipboard
Threet_Level_Midnite: This sucks, I’m going to go get drunk with Carson.
Safety_Cone: want to race down the hallways
Feaginator: Yes, I would love to compete with you. I welcome the opportunity.
*** Feaginator has slipped and crashed into the fire alarm***
Safety_Cone: a winner is me!
Wolverines in the NFL: Draft Class of 2007
I like to keep tabs on my fellow Wolverines who have gone on to play in the NFL. So, while checking up on their stats and forecasting the upcoming season, I decided to jot down my notes and thoughts for everybody. If people like what they see then I can keep going with more players down the road. Let me know if you disagree with any projections or if you notice any errors.
UPDATE (7/17/08): Added Tyler Ecker; improved formatting
This time I looked at last year’s rookies.
Leon Hall (CB, Cincinnati)
- 2007 Stats: NFL All-Rookie team, 16 games (10 started), 68 tackles (54 solo), 5 Int, 17 PDef
- 2007 Season Review: Hall impressed at the NFL combine with a 40 time of 4.38 seconds and was drafted in the 1st round (18th overall) by the Bengals. He also showcased his skills during training camp, leaving many to believe he would be a significant contributor his rookie season. Hall did not disappoint, finishing 9th in the NFL in interceptions (1st among rookies) and 22nd in pass deflections (2nd among rookies). He also tied a Bengals record for interceptions by a rookie.
- 2008 Season Projection: By the second half of the 2007 season, Hall had supplanted Deltha O’Neal in the starting lineup. As a projected starter for 2008, look for Hall to improve in his second year. While not quite ready to make the jump to All-Pro in 2008, Hall is certainly capable of being that type of player in years to come. Playing opposite of 3rd year cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the Bengals have a solid cornerback tandem for the coming seasons.
- 2007 Stats: NFL All-Rookie team, 16 games (9 started), 127 tackles (90 solo), 2 FF, 1 FR, 5 sacks, 3 PDef
- 2007 Season Review: The Jets traded up in the draft to get Harris in the 2nd round (47th overall). He started 9 games after regular starter Jonathan Vilma went down with a knee injury in Week 8. He finished with 127 tackles, good enough for 8th in the league and 3rd among rookies.
- 2008 Season Projection: Vilma has since been traded to New Orleans making Harris the favorite to start at MLB in 2008. Harris should improve his stats now that he has an opportunity to start every Sunday.
- 2007 Stats: 1,391 KR yds (22.4 yds avg), 395 PR yds (9.4 yds avg), 1 PR TD,
- 2007 Season Review: Selected in the 5th round (142nd overall), Breaston was used primarily as the return specialist, buried on the depth chart at WR with only 8 catches for 92 yds. He was electric as a return specialist, ranking 5th in the NFL in both kick return yards and punt return yards (2nd and 1st among rookies, respectively).
- 2008 Season Projection: Expect more of the same from his return game... a top 5 return specialist in the league. Breaston also has an opportunity to move to #3 on the WR depth chart this season, allowing him to get more opportunities as a slot WR. He could provide an excellent midfield threat to compliment the downfield abilities of Boldin and Fitzgerald. If Breaston can duplicate the numbers of since departed WR Bryant Johnson (49ers), who posted 46 catches for 528 yds and 2 TDs, then it would certainly be a successful season. I expect more in the neighborhood of 30 catches for 250 yds.
- 2007 Stats: 11 games, 9 tackles (8 solo)
- 2007 Season Review: After being selected with the first pick of the 2nd round (33rd overall), Branch had an underwhelming rookie season. Limited by a hand injury early in the season, Branch didn’t see the field until Week 6. He played as a backup for the entire season. Twelve rookie DTs recorded more tackles than Branch in 2007.
- 2008 Season Projection: Branch has an opportunity to break into the starting lineup in 2008 thanks to a treadmill breaking fellow Wolverine Gabe Watson’s knee cap (!?). Still, Branch needs to show that he can be the dominant DT that he showed he could be (at times) while at Michigan.
- 2007 Stats: 14 games, 17 tackles (17 solo), 6 sacks
- 2007 Season Review: Drafted in the 2nd round (46th overall), Woodley played the 2007 season as a backup to Clark Haggans (now with the Cardinals). Woodley was impressive in limited playing time, finishing 5th in sacks among rookies in the regular season.
- 2008 Season Projection: With Haggans gone, Woodley will step into the starting lineup with James Harrison at OLB. Pittsburgh’s LBs will be the primary strength of an already good defense (fellow Wolverine Larry Foote is a starting ILB). I expect Woodley to approach 100 tackles in 2008.
- 2007 Stats: 8 games, 4 tackles (4 solo)
- 2007 Season Review: Drafted in the 6th round (207th overall), Burgess was a backup during the 2007 season, playing mostly on special teams. His 2007 season was ended early after he was placed on IR after Week 10 with a hip injury.
- 2008 Season Projection: Burgess’s role with the Ravens will not improve in 2008. He will continue to play primarily on special teams and may be forced into the lineup if injuries befall the LB group.
- 2007 Stats: DNP
- 2007 Season Review: Ecker was drafted in the 7th round (216th overall) by Washington. He did not play at all in the 2007 season. Apparently he hurt his groin in training camp and was on the IR all season.
- 2008 Season Projection: Is he still even on the team? I don’t know, but even if he is there is no way he sees the field barring several injuries. The Skins have Chris Cooley (arguable their best receiver) with backups Todd Yoder (veteran, blocking-type) and rookie Fred Davis (rookie, athletic-type). Good luck, Tyler.
Only two? Okay, three.
1. MGoblog’s new format, which includes the diary feature
2. Scott Shafer
3. First post-fort training camp
As for number one, I couldn’t let another day pass without starting my MGoBlog football diary. So what if so nothing is happening in the UM football world to the point that this entry is going to be hopelessly rambling and offer nothing of substance or value? I’ve got stray enthusiasm to burn off.
Thoughts on the upcoming season vacillate rapidly between curiosity, anticipation, and tempered enthusiasm/dread. Rich Rod and his offense are the central players, with the offense in particular blowing the doors off of UM’s football identity. For a program whose identity is somehow almost separate and distinct from its accomplishments, and somehow equally important in the minds of those obsessed with it, the off-season was like having an arm chopped off and wondering if it will grow back. Its near impossible to parse out and dissect the tangible, the reason I frequent this site.
That’s why every time I read another blurb on Carlos Brown missing spring practice and the impact on his snaps under center, I sigh, and think about Scot Shafer. Watching UM’s offense this year will be interesting. Watching the defensive side of the ball is truly glimpsing the dawn of our new era. A solid half of the entire Rich Rod experiment rides on the shoulders of a man we know almost nothing about as a coach. I don’t claim to know the inner workings of Rod’s coaching circle, but I don’t think its too far off base to suggest that the entire defense has been more or less handed over to Shafer.
For all the dower pre-season prognostications, its easy to forget that UM is returning a terrific amount of talent and a decent amount of production from last season’s defense. Most commenting on the subject seem content to lazily write UM’s defense off as a total question mark in the same vein as the offense. I’m not on board with that assessment.
We’ll all have to wait and see on the long term and team-wide Barwis effect, but I don’t think anyone would dispute the statement that UM’s defensive players will be in the best shape of their lives once the season rolls around. Motivation should be at a peak where no player’s job is safe or guaranteed, if not to prove the doubters wrong, make up for last season, etc. The talent and experience is largely there. The schemes themselves do not need to be re-learned, although to some extent, probably re-taught. In my opinion, the pieces are in place for UM to have a top 3 defense in the conference. What will be extremely exciting to watch is how Shafer moves those pieces, and if he can take this defense to an even higher level.
As Brian pointed out in his typically excellent post on Shafer’s previous coaching results prior to UM, getting any sort of handle on what this guy is about/capable of is difficult except for one area, he is going to place a shit-ton of emphasis and focus on getting pressure. You can say this with certainty based on results. In 2005 and 2006 coaching at Western, Shafer’s defense ranked #23, and #1 respectively in the nation in sacks. His lone year at Stanford he brought the Cardinal from #111, to #11. He chopped an entire "1" off. I don’t care how you want to factor in and weigh the variables, 1) it clearly shows that pressure is a massive priority 2) its pretty freakin’ impressive.
Jamison and Graham were as highly regarded recruits as UM has anywhere on their roster, and both have battled consistency problems that could be largely attributed to conditioning issues (and in Jamison’s case some injury problems) and pizza, which we expect to be removed. Trent has the physical tools and has shown me enough gradual improvement after his position switch, and mental toughness after bouncing back from the 2006 season ending debacles to post a mostly impressive 2007 campaign. Warren probably grades out as UM’s player with the most pro potential. Those four guys in some order represent the 4 best players on the defense, and likely play the 4 most crucial positions to Shafer’s defense. I don’t know what he’s going to run, but I know that pressure defenses are most easily built around ends who can rush and corners who can cover. So two cornerstones are in place. When pundits talk about the question marks on defense, they largely fail to note that the defense is the exact opposite of the offense in that it appears Shafer inherited very good and experienced players in key areas.
Its college football, so every team is going to have unknowns on both sides of the ball. For UM’s D, its at safety and linebacker. But where Stevie Brown is being talked about as the most talented defensive back the new defensive backs coach has coached, and Ezeh is talked about as one of the most talented players on the defense in general, what UM lacks at those two positions should not be enough to prevent Shafer from putting his full stamp on this defense.
I guess the question is, what exactly is that stamp? A lot of folks around here have been looking at old WVU games for glimpses of what to expect out of Rich, despite the fact that UM’s personal will make it impossible for the 2008 O to appear anything like his offenses of the past. Is anyone out there pulling old NIU tapes to see how Shafer gets his wicked pressure? Is he a Tenuta-esque crazy ass blitzer, or a guy who mixes and matches pressure from the front 7? Is he playing aggressively behind the front or trying to minimize damage? Seeing what Shafer does with a caliber of athlete he’s never sniffed before should be worth the price of admission for ‘08. Hopefully his play calling and the performance of the defense as a whole is not impacted by the offense to the point of rendering ‘08 a poisoned sample.
Which brings me to my final thought, our first training camp without the Fort. How will the mainstream media react to the opportunity to write substantive articles on a regular basis? Are they going to step up to the plate or will it be the typical stream of regurgitated spring practice quotes and fluff? What will the access be for non-traditional media? So far, it seems that there has been enough during spring and camp periods to keep a steady and informative flow from bloggers and ex-coaches turned posters. Will the assistant coaches grant the interviews Rich allows, and if they do, how much is a guy like Shafer willing to discuss in terms of schemes, philosophy and personnel?
Whatever the outcome there, coverage is going to be a hell of a lot better than what we’ve had to deal with in our entire lifetime as UM fans. And we’re getting close.
For those non-Michigan graduates:os·si·fi·ca·tion // ", "6"); interfaceflash.addParam("loop", "false"); interfaceflash.addParam("quality", "high"); interfaceflash.addParam("menu", "false"); interfaceflash.addParam("salign", "t"); interfaceflash.addParam("FlashVars", "soundUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fcache.lexico.com%2Fdictionary%2Faudio%2Fahd4%2FO%2FO0140200.mp3"); interfaceflash.write(); // ]]--> <a href="http://dictionary.reference.com/audio.html/ahd4WAV/O0140200/ossification" target="_blank"><img src="http://cache.lexico.com/g/d/speaker.gif" border="0" /></a> Audio Help (ŏs'ə-fĭ-kā'shən) Pronunciation Key
- The natural process of bone formation.
- The hardening or calcification of soft tissue into a bonelike material.
- A mass or deposit of such material.
- The process of becoming set in a rigidly conventional pattern, as of behavior, habits, or beliefs.
- Rigid, unimaginative convention.
- The process of becoming set in a rigidly conventional pattern, as of behavior, habits, or beliefs.
- Rigid, unimaginative convention.
Is there a more appropriate word for the last years of the Lloyd Carr regime? I believe it applies to all coaches generally and football coaches in particular.
Are the days of the terrorizing Michigan defenses over? It certainly appears so on the recruiting trail for linebacker and DE, where Michigan has had much success in the past. Is anybody else concerned that the heart of our defense for 2009+ is a little 3 star guy? And that there's a noticeable dearth of ANY defensive end recruits? We can have 4 star defensive backs all we like, but if we can't generate any semblance of a pass rush or anchor our defense against heavy running games (see annual foes such as Wisconsin or Ohio State), we're going to be toast.
RR's defenses at WVU were actually quite good (#15 Rush defense, #14 Pass defense, #7 total defense all for 2007, all ranked above M... in the Big East take that for what you will). I don't know what this Shafer guy is cooking up with his newfangled blitz-happy defense (*gulp*), but if this is the personnel he's satisfied to recruit, I think we're in trouble. Any comments on the future of the Michigan defense?
I know im not the only one who is concerned with the qb situation this year but I think richie will be able to use some smoke and mirrors to cover up the lack of talent at the position.
I dont really hear anyone talking seriously about the possibility of Justin Feagin starting some time this year or maybe starting the year off at qb if he picks up the system fast enough. Hes got great insticts and can run so why not let him have a chance? hes the BEST FIT. He can run, thats the main thing in my opinion. im not saying hes going to be pat white at all, its just that i think rich rods offense works best when the qb is more of a run first option and it would be more of a seamless transiton than having threet back there this year then newsome or whoever the next.