at least it's not just us?
Fear and Loathing in Ann Arbor Volume II
The 2010 Regular Season
Disclaimer: The following diary is a combination of a narrative for the 2010 Michigan football season excluding the Gator Bowl and a collection of work from author Hunter S. Thompson. I made minor changes to his work such as places, names, coaches, players, etc to make it relevant to our 2010 season. The work in this diary was lifted from the pages of Dr. Thompson’s work in “Hey Rube”. If you wonder what lines were his and which were mine, thank you for the compliment and then get the book. Enjoy the second installment of Fear in Loathing in Ann Arbor...or don't!
They were all laughing at me. I grabbed some whiskey off my leather-covered icebox and went outside to be alone with my thoughts and humiliation. My worst fears came true. I was a public Dupe, soon to be jailed for crimes of cruelty to myself for investing so much damn emotion and confidence into a game that ended with me stone drunk and stone naked on my porch. How had it happened? Had I finally loved Michigan too much?
October 16th, 2010. Iowa. I made it to the television set to watch the game. After the MSU debacle, I thought for sure a wormhole would open me up, swallow me whole, and deposit my carcass on the streets of Columbus with nothing but a Michigan themed unicorn tattoo on the small of my back for everyone to aim at. This wasn’t the case. I had to take a step back and realize that the defensive problems were voiced before the season started. The season must go on, we were 5-1, still ranked, and heading into Iowa with a level head and a hope that last years close call will turn in our favor because of our lethal yet friendly QB, Shoelace D Robinson.
Iowa has seemed to be a team that could beat anyone on any day, especially when you play in Iowa City at night time. Many teams have come out of the visitor’s locker room that resembles a clean vulva only to run into an Iowa team that spreads high concentrate sucrose syrup on their field while they bowl you over with their heated Nike Vaseline IIIs. One would think they would be a perennial powerhouse if this was the case. Not so. Kirk Ferentz has a fine eye for two and three star recruits that become valuable assets to his team. The progression of his players has something to do with their first year training. Most freshman are redshirted at the bottom of his family’s corn silos and will only see the lights of Kinnick Stadium by eating themselves out and sprinting to the field twenty miles down the road. The Hawkeyes may be losers individually, but as a team they are a reliable bet, most of the time. Let’s say a 77.8% of the time, which is not a bad clotting average for Iowan hearts.
The much anticipated rebound game to prove we aren’t Michigan 2009, never came. At one point the Hawkeyes were pulverizing us by three TDs. We had four turnovers, Denard looked human and injured, and we lost. The only bright spot was Tater Nutz coming in and exacting his revenge on the Iowa secondary in a way that made it seem like they brutally shit stomped his pet dog the night after Christmas the year before. The loss was not as bad until the immediate thought that popped into everyone’s head a second later. The thought of shitting the bed with no change of sheets hit us like a high-speed collision. Everything else in your world disappeared into a bright yellow flash. No pain because the thought rendered you frozen and unconscious like a dead fish. No noise, feeling, or sight could distract us from it. We were “on our way out” as Doctors like to say. The thought? We were now one step closer to reliving a nightmare that would even scare Charles Manson, the nightmare of repeating 2009. Shoelace D Robinson’s injury was unknown, and we felt like we lost to someone we should have beaten like an ugly stepchild. Oh God! This can’t be happening, again! At least we had a bye week and thought of it as an incubator bringing Denard back to life as well as our team against a struggling Penn State team and their freshman QB. I would be in attendance to see the resurrection of the team in one of my personal most hated teams to walk on the face of this planet besides that gang of toothless junkies in Ohio.
October 30th, 2010. Penn State. Hot damn, it was Halloween again. I was ready to get weird in public. What better place that State College, Pennsyltucky? If there is any place to get weird it would be here where those freaks should all be put to sleep. I arrived at my tailgating position and set up Weird Camp. I was clearly not welcome, but no shit was given. The freaks that worship a man older than god had the audacity to send a meek and unwanted guest to my camp asking for beer as if I owed the bastard even one hair from my scrotum. After I held my tongue and respectfully declined his request for an alcoholic beverage he began berating me for being alive and wasting my body on the colors of maize and blue. The man-child didn’t know he was dealing with the king of weird that was about a 5th of the way through two bottles of rum. I unkindly explained he was another jackass looking for attention that he didn’t receive from his parents at a young age. After he didn’t take to that too well, I conveyed that I would give his lame ass a severe beating if I ever caught the sleazy little freak sneaking around my camp again. In my way of thought, I was sure my team was thinking the same thing about the Penn State Geriatrics.
As soon as I arrived to my seat, an ominous tone that has been spoken of before raised its ugly head once again. I got the pleasure of getting to sit amongst my Michigan brethren for the first time at Beaver Stadium, but I noticed a Michigan sister paler than the white pom poms the jackwads in PSU’s student section were holding. As soon as I noticed her complexion, she tossed her Coors Light in a warm puddle all over the bleacher in front of her and next to me. I could tell she hadn’t had any food at her camp from the insides that laid next to me. Her friends quickly rushed her out of the stadium after I did a quick clean up job with her scarf. To sooth my nerves and uptick my buzz from the legal and illegal substances I engrossed myself in at the Weird Camp, I drank their unopened 24 oz. Coors Light can they left behind and lit up a cigarette at my cold lonely seat. They came back eventually, but either did not notice or care that I drank their beer that they so ever carefully smuggled into the game.
After my Turkish tobacco stick, I realized our good chances of beating this team. Their freshman QB had suffered a concussion the week before and now they were forced to play a walk on sophomore that named rhymed with McGroin. Life was good. I felt I was floating. Couldn’t tell if it was a predictive feeling or the buzz I had. As the game reached halftime, I was looking for my parachute cord to no avail. I instantly wanted to find the poor girl who vomited to use her soothsaying powers for the second half. Michigan was down 28-10 at half time and I could only imagine my ex girlfriend sitting somewhere in the student section snickering until she collapsed due to affixation. Well, I bought the ticket; I might as well take the ride. Maybe the second half would bring the supreme comeback of the year. I found out that that was the joint thinking. Michigan performed valiantly, but ended up on the short end of a 41-31 stick. The weirdest thing about this game in the freak kingdom was that Michigan was outgained in total yardage by a team with a first time starting walk on QB. Maybe this was not an anomaly, but the ineptitude of an ever growing liable defense. Michigan could not stop PSU on a third down even if GERG threatened to pluck out his beautiful locks of hair and sacrifice them to the Bull God. The positive note? Shoelace D Robinson returned to his usual form passing for 190 yards and rushing for 191 with 4 TDs. He was 19 yards away from being the only player with three 200/200 yard games in a season. The next game on the schedule was Illinois, the land of my birth. Also the land that shit stomped PSU 33-13 and held the number 15th defense in the nation. I thought we were doomed, lost like pigs in the wilderness- a gang of squabbling losers with no pride, shame, and no hope for the next 20 years. Guaranteed fear and loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for weirdness again. Get familiar with cannibalism.
November 6th, 2010. Illinois. In years past, Illinois was a notch above a bye week. The starters would only play half the game and the Illinois cheerleaders would be passed out from a combination bender of booze and hashish. Not this year. Since Monday (Sunday was a blur of a hangover and Dido songs), I was in the grip of agony. Things went downhill in a hurry since the Michigan State game. Besides the impending slip into football abyss on my mind, my dentist botched my root canal, and I slipped on a balcony ledge and sustained a nasty subdural hematoma that almost ended my life. After getting past a heavy week I thought to myself that not long ago I looked forward to Saturdays in the fall with a certain giddy expectation, like a vacation coming up. No longer, not after these past three seasons of continual pain in my stomach equivalent to blue balls. For the past three years we were beaten and disgraced. I did not assume it would change against an upcoming average offense and a stout defense that crushed the opponent that de-pants us the week before. I had my blotter sheet and razor blades ready for the inevitable. I was at least leaving this world in a ball of fury and excessiveness.
The first quarter ended 7-6 in favor of the good guys. The defense looked surprisingly better. Could this last? The answer was no. At this point I would have covered my tongue with some tiny leprechaun stamps on my coffee table however Illinois’ defense seemed to catch the same disease we have been ailing from the whole year. At halftime the score was a dead heat at 31 all. This is why I don’t gamble. If given an over/under I would have most likely picked under. The offensive explosion that unraveled before my eyes could have shocked Larry King so much that his pacemaker would have exploded on air even if his interviewee was Ted Koppel explaining the electoral votes of Wyoming in the 1916 election. After halftime the horserace continued. It was like watching two speed junkies racing the wrong way on a one way street in order to score a fix that’s end would not only be dangerous, but leave the defenses disgraced. Thankfully most football games end after sixty minutes. Not this game. Not this day. The rocket race to win the 2nd worst defense award ended after three electrifying overtimes. The game was so intense and gripping that I didn’t notice my dog gyrating all over the place and trying to stab the cat with its damn dewclaws. I did notice that my blotter sheet was missing. Anywhoo, to get back on track from that train wreck of a situation, I was blown away when the play to finally end the game was a defensive stand by the Michigan defense. This told me something. They may be rag-tag division II backups, but they were my rag-tag division II backups and they lived up to the wolverine namesake. Frequently outsized and out popularized by other four legged beasts, they were willing to break their own neck to make that single play to seal the deal and protect the bounty that their offense was hoarding on frequent kills.
One thing was for sure on the well lit streets of Ann Arbor that night. That Saturday night even fools could cut loose and take risks that would be out of the question on any other night: get drunk, shoot guns, dance naked in the streets, and hack into the Pentagon database. If Sunday is the Lords day, then Saturday night belonged to the Devil. It was the only night of the week he gave out free passes to the Late Show at the Too Much Fun Club.
November 13th, 2010. Purdue. 13 has always been a quasi mark of the beast, at least a mark when he unleashes his demon spirits upon the world. The poor number 13 has been stigmatized for decades. This day was no different. I attended the Michigan-Purdue game the year before in Ann Arbor when it was uncharacteristically 65 degrees and sunny. The weather gods fooled me. Michigan jumped up to a 24-10 lead and looked well on their way to a bowl eligible year only to come out and get chewed up and spit out to lose. I was incensed. I burned my ticket and drank the rest of my Miller High Life cammo cans as my ex-girlfriend sneakily giggled inside at the loss of my sanity. Not only did Purdue beat them, but their slime sucker of a coach made it a point to get full embarrassment out of it by having a player suspended for not following the rules assist him in finding mid-field to blame Rich Rodriguez for the situation. After burning my ticket was complete, I raved, babbled, and threatened to piss down their spines to consummate my feelings for them. I claimed that this year Michigan would beat them. They were a puffball team with no soul and we would beat them like the sick rats that they were. It was really stupid, vengeful stuff. It was ugly and wrong. It sounded like something you would hear out of a sleazy drunken sot, which I was at the time. I still did not hide how much I wanted to destroy them this year.
It was monsoon season in central Indiana. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see it in person as much as someone that goes out to sea for eight days and nights on the ocean with no engine and no radio. It would be madness by any nautical wisdom. Only a fool or desperate man would even think about it. The risks were too high and our chances of escaping unharmed or dead seemed to be 1-44. Denard would be slowed down by the lakes on the field and our turnover bug would rear its ugly head again.
Purdue let that little shyster coach take over the once respectable program that enjoyed his slimy role as a pimp and prostitute all at once by playing clearly injured players to beat his new boogeyman, Rich Rodriguez. It was by no means a pretty ugly game with ten turnovers combined. If this were a healthy Purdue team, there would have been cause for concern, but a crippled team will never beat a healthy team. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for Hope’s players. I still rooted against them vehemently because Hope was a backstabbing punk with the soul of a rat and the heart of a filthy virus. The NCAA should have had him committed to a state mental hospital and locked down with restraints until he gets his entire body dyed bright maize, which will stay on his skin forever. At halftime we were up 14-10. Only leading by four points left me with a queasy feeling in my stomach. Why was I all of a sudden plagued by memories of false hubris and total collapse again? Am I fool? Thankfully Michigan escaped with a victory, albeit an ugly victory. I could still celebrate though. The victory against them was a moment to slip the dagger between Hope’s rib cage and twist. The true Hope haters out there loved the fleecing, whipping, cruelty, and stabbing feeling that Hope must have felt. When you can physically feel their pain, that is what makes winning so fun, it is wonderful. The feeling in Ann Arbor was that this was an ugly win. Winning can be ugly but it is another universal language along with simple mathematics, cold beer, and wild sex with Jimsonweed. Any traveler conversant in these tongues and football too would find friends that night in Ann Arbor. Take my word for it.
Impending doom lurked ahead. A two headed pig monster in Wisconsin and Ohio State lay ahead. It was definitely going to be a tough road ahead, but at least the feelings of not going to a bowl were put to rest and we gained a little momentum going into these fights with overgrown swine.
November 20th, 2010. Wisconsin. Those just checking out of the hospital bed from pneumonia thanks to the deluge in West Lafayette and checking into their own bed to catch the late night sports news may have had a heart condition to revisit a hospital for. During the everlasting water balloon fight at Purdue, Wisconsin was drubbing Indiana as a world power would in a war with Tajikistan. They were like your neighborhood bully that spent weeks training in his basement with rabid pit bulls, a Bo-Flex, and lead weights just to beat your ass. The upsetting part about Wisconsin this year was that their meathead coach was more unlikable than usual. I don’t know what his deal was/is this year. Most likely he found out he was a crossbreed love child of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock and a hormone injected T-bone steak that set him off on a point rampage the second half of the season. He came to Ann Arbor with his band of cheese heads that wouldn’t know the difference between a carrot from a poison meat whistle.
Wisconsin had a QB by the name of Scott Tolzien, who has a bitching arm and a nice habit of lulling a defense asleep with normal stuff and suddenly breaking their backs with long weird strikes to the heart. Right down the middle-so fast that it catches you flat footed, two steps behind and stupid. If we were going to win this one, it was going to be a shootout. In order for us to participate in a shootout, our offense made one big mistake at least in the first half. They forgot to score points. It was ugly. I was left at halftime smoking half a pack of my cigarettes trying to catch cancer as soon as possible. The game was over at halftime, but after two halves the score ended 48-28. It wasn’t 83, but it might as well have been. The Wolverines were ripped to shreds. They were utterly demoralized. It was painful. They were like helpless bums being chewed up and spit out, right in front of our eyes. They withered and turned to jelly. I felt sorry for the poor souls. The players seemed to be suffering the whole game from a severe dose of ether. You lose all functions of your body but your head still knows what is going on. Until the same is done to Bielema and his meatheads, I fear I will have recurring nightmares about it, causing me to wake up sweating and screaming like some kind of pig being eaten my meat bats.
Next week wasn’t going to get any better. Our brutalized Wolverines were going into the dumbest and most dangerous city in America for anyone with an IQ over 23, Columbus. If you haven’t started with cannibalism, you better start. The Detroit Free Press was arms and legs ahead of anyone.
November 26th, 2010. Ohio State. Hatred is a funny thing. It is usually viewed as a negative attribute of someone’s character. Those that think this have obviously never been stabbed, beaten, or walked out their front door in their lives. That or they are lying. There of course is the feeling of intense anger. That is what everyone knows about hatred. What most don’t know, or won’t admit is that hatred is also balls to walls pleasurable. If we didn’t have hate, what motivation would we have had in creating fast food, the second amendment, and the death penalty? Motivation was in huge order for our boys. They were just humiliated by Wisconsin and faced an opponent unabashed to show hatred for them and intellect. The hate didn’t only come from their players and coaches, but also their fans. The Buckeye nation is beyond doubt the sleaziest, rudest, and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled under a single “roof” so to speak, anywhere in the English speaking world. They are a profoundly disagreeable cult that meets every Saturday from August to January.
Days before the game, the Buckeyes release images of the jerseys they would wear for The Game. I was expecting them to sport numbers no higher than three on a vest with nipple holes cut out of the chest. It was worse. We would be playing bloody tampons honoring the smartest class that ever graduated that godforsaken college, the 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes. Over 12% of them graduated that year. All I could think is how any of us could need this public lewdness in such a time of fear and depression. I believe we were 18 point underdogs. I am surprised Vegas just didn’t take us off the board coming off a lackluster performance against Wisconsin. I was hoping for anything to give us an advantage before the game, maybe with luck Jim Tressell was caught in the act of fondling a foreign flag on his vest while prancing around the streets of Columbus in black tuxedo thong. This however never came to fruition. We were going into this game as heavy underdogs. There are many things in life that suck waking up to. Ague fever, shin splints, chicken pox, projectile vomit, rickets, and even black hairy tongue disease, which is highly contagious, are all better than waking up knowing you lost to Ohio State the day before.
High noon. The Game begins. The first quarter blew my mind away. We looked as if we were controlling The Game. A 0-0 tie at the end of it. I would settle for that score because it would piss them off more than us. End the game oh god; end it now with a good old fashion dust storm. As proved true the whole season, the gods were not with us. After competing at a high level for most of the half in a 10-7 ballgame, things immediately went south. After kicking the ball off to the Buckeyes, they returned it all the way to make it 17-7. I knew then things would unravel for our uncannily young and hobbled team. The score at halftime was 24-7. We were flogged, flummoxed, and humiliated on worldwide TV. By halftime I felt stupid and wrong in every way. It was like dying and going to hell. We lost the game as expected, 37-7. Losing to Ohio State was bad. Luckily or unluckily my friend hid every sharp object in my house. This loss was worse though, it was seven in a row. I longed for the nostalgia of the days of that poor sap John Cooper. Hanging with Mr. Cooper was fun because we owned him.
We lost two in a row in disgraceful fashion. A spiral that goes straight down at unholy speed is called a vortex, I think, and a spiral that whirls straight up is called a tornado. The only sure difference between being sucked down a bottomless sinkhole and getting sucked up in the air while strapped into your car and then dropped like a bomb on a schoolhouse 12 miles away is that your scrambled remains will be easily identified if you fall from the sky on a schoolhouse. Your family will be disgraced and their auto insurance will be canceled for unexplained reasons. Winning becomes a habit and losing does in the same way. When failure starts to feel normal in your life, work, or even your darkest vices, you won’t have to go looking for trouble, because trouble will find you. Count on it.
November 27th, 2010. End of regular season. The autumn season is coming to a close. In comes Old Man Winter whose breath reeks of death and uncertainty. Some say this season was a joke. To which others viscously disagree, to which I say there are no jokes. The truth is the funniest joke of them all. Actually I didn’t say that, Muhammad Ali did. The harshest lesson one can learn when being an avid and rabid sports fan like I, is that there is a difference in having fun and being smart. It is the only thing that keeps me sane. Most “experts”, including myself expected a seven win season, eight at best. After seeing the possibilities on this team I could lose what’s left of my mind in trying to live for just fun. The smart in me is telling me that this season was just reality, case closed. We are now in a limbo period of slow football news. Every injury update, word, tweet, and tidbit of news drives us to be rats in heat clawing amongst each other. It doesn’t help that the inflammatory so called journalists hailing out of Detroit are making things worse. The dumbness of Detroit sportswriters is a subject long thought to be settled and exhausted, but let’s hit on it one more time, just for fun….Many, or maybe just I have described them as “a rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks” and “more disgusting by nature than maggots oozing out of the carcass of a dead animal….” But they keep coming back for more like pimps and real estate agents, and this season my patience is running out with them. They are hell bent on destroying our program from outside and within by printing lies and shit a dog wouldn’t even eat out of a catbox. It has been quite painful to sit and watch as everyone involved in the program twist in the wind until those swine are put in their place and the truth is brought to the light.
Of all the shocks and pain that the past three football seasons brought, the worst of all is the ending of it. Fortunately this season bucks the trend. We were invited to the Gator Bowl to play the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. All I know about Mississippi is Brett Favre, Eli Manning, and disturbing scenes from the movie Deliverance. None of which are very popular right now. However the chance of redemption whirls in the wind. That wind takes us to Jacksonville, Florida. It is no accident that this viscous mess has come to a head in Florida. I have known great happiness in Florida and I still have a certain love for it. But I also know it to be the most corrupt and profoundly degenerate state in the Union besides Ohio. More murders and rapes go unreported in Florida each year than in Corsica and Sicily combined. The state has no income tax and essentially no laws. Its cities are ruled by depraved sots and its universities are snake pits of cheating and random sex in public. To redeem our season, we must dive deep within the cesspool filled with said snakes and grab victory from the jaws of a team of overweight bulldogs. Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished, hoarded, worshipped, and fondled like a diamond necklace around a beautiful Amsterdam hooker.
I will root one more time this football season for my beloved Wolverines with everything I have left inside me from this rollercoaster of a ride they call a sport. I am more than just a serious Wolverine fan. I am a lifelong addict. I was addicted from a young age, in fact, because I lived in Michigan and I learned, early on, that habitual dominance was a natural way of life. The first time I managed to suit up for football practice, I knew I was destined to lead the University of Michigan to another Big Ten and national championship. Even now, so many years later, I still believe Michigan will go undefeated and win everything when August and Autumn roll around again.
That is it for now folks. There is no more until after the Gator Bowl. Hail to the Victors.
Author note: This got long. Real long. My bad.
In this diary I build off of the foundation laid out in the White Rainbow entry over the weekend to size up the QB around the Big Ten as well as other QBs of particular interest to Michigan. This is a list of player expectations going into the season based on the investigations I’ve conducted previously. This list is presented in order of worst to best expected year end pass efficiency for each category.
Before I begin, I wanted to share a technique for ranking QBs that came to me after I published the White Rainbow diary. In that diary I talk about how I think passer rating does a decent enough job at determining large differences between players but a poor job at distinguishing subtle differences between them. Well, after playing with the numbers a bit, it looks like taking the average ranking for all four categories yields a method for differentiating players with similar QB ratings but vastly different subjective quality.
The following table* shows an excerpt of the NCAA QB rankings for the 2009 season.
|1||Tim Tebow, Florida||QB||SR||164.17||67.83||9.22||6.69||1.59|
|2||Kellen Moore, Boise St.||QB||SO||161.65||64.27||8.2||9.05||0.7|
|3||Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame||QB||JR||161.42||68||8.76||6.59||0.94|
|22||Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin||QB||JR||142.99||64.33||8.25||4.88||3.35|
|23||Daryll Clark, Penn St.||QB||SR||142.64||60.89||7.88||6.3||2.62|
|25||Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.||QB||SO||142.63||60.37||8.17||5.79||2.74|
|48||Richard Stanzi, Iowa||QB||JR||131.62||56.25||7.95||5.59||4.93|
|51||Joey Elliott, Purdue||QB||SR||131.13||61.66||6.99||5.08||3|
|57||Juice Williams, Illinois||QB||SR||129.38||57.71||7.19||5.29||3.08|
|58||Mike Kafka, Northwestern||QB||SR||129.25||64.84||6.97||3.25||2.44|
|59||Terrelle Pryor, Ohio St.||QB||SO||128.91||56.61||7.1||6.1||3.73|
|64||Tate Forcier, Michigan||QB||FR||128.15||58.72||7.3||4.63||3.56|
|67||Ben Chappell, Indiana||QB||JR||126.44||62.62||6.87||3.97||3.5|
|98||Adam Weber, Minnesota||QB||JR||114.66||52.04||7.04||3.54||4.09|
If you take that same data and rank each player for each of the four categories then average that ranking, you end up with what I’m calling the QB Prism Score yielding the following final ranking.
QB Prism Score
|Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame||3||6.75||1|
|Kellen Moore, Boise St.||2||8.5||2|
|Tim Tebow, Florida||1||8.75||3|
|Daryll Clark, Penn St.||23||31.25||21|
|Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.||25||33.5||24|
|Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin||22||37.75||34|
|Joey Elliott, Purdue||51||50.25||44|
|Mike Kafka, Northwestern||58||52.75||48|
|Juice Williams, Illinois||57||58||57|
|Richard Stanzi, Iowa||48||60||62|
|Terrelle Pryor, Ohio St.||59||61.75||64|
|Ben Chappell, Indiana||67||62.5||67|
|Tate Forcier, Michigan||64||62.75||68|
|Adam Weber, Minnesota||98||85||100|
Notice how this technique improves differentiation between similar QBs using the exact same data and very simple math (rank and average). At the very top we see that the all three guys had awesome numbers, but Tebow had the worst INT % of all of them. The method distinguished Clausen as a higher overall performer than Moore and Tebow.
A similar thing occurs when looking at Big Ten QBs. The traditional passer rating ranks Daryll Clark, Kirk Cousins, and Scott Tolzien as virtually identical passers; Prism score separates them substantially.
Now look at the log jam between Ricky Stanzy and Ben Chappell; only 5 passer rating points seperate 7 players. The Prism Score breaks these into main groups: Elliot-Kafka and Williams-Stanzi-Pryor-Chappell-Forcier.
Some bunching still exists but the bunches are smaller.
Anyway, I thought that might be a useful and easy technique for people who are so inclined to apply. On with the purpose of this diary.
Adam was ranked 98 - of - 100 in NCAA passer rating for 2009. I would actually rank him 100 - of - 100. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception rate were terrible, especially for a redshirt Junior in his third year as starter. His touchdown rate ... I'll be good and listen to Thumper's dad ("if you don't have anything nice to say..."). Eric Decker did get hurt, but that's not the reason Weber wasn't throwing TDs. Of his 13 TDs last year, 5 were to Decker, 5 were against Michigan State, and the other 3 were flukes. OK, so that last part was mean. Recall that MSU's secondary was worse than Michigan's in 2009.
Going into 2009, Minnesota had 10 returning offensive starters available to them; that was a mature squad. My previous QB-centric work has shown that by year 3 as starter, QBs are what they are. Adam Weber is bad at passing. Phil Steele thinks Weber will end his career on a high note, I don't. Alas, I think Thumper's dad is disappointed in me.
Side Note: Minnesota's D only has 2 players returning and Phil Steele points out that they play USC, Penn St., Ohio St., and Iowa at home so they'll have to go on the road in order to try and win. That's just mean. Short Minnesota; with leverage. When do we play them again? Oh ... sweet.
I make no bones about it; I think Stanzi is hugely over rated. He throws a worse ball than Brady Quinn and is inaccurate to boot. I tried to find a picture of him throwing a pick but couldn’t confirm the result of the pass shown. There’s a 5% chance that what you’re looking at is a pick (no joke) so I’m assuming that it is until proven otherwise. Relax, I’m mostly kidding.
Anyway, last year he actually had the highest rating of the next four QB in this list, which were in a tight cluster, but his high YPA and solid TD rate obscured the fact that his completion percentage and INT rate were the worst of the bunch. The two categories he was good in, YPA and TD rate, are highly influenced by things outside of the QB himself (receiving corps, O-Line, run game, opposing defense). The two things he has direct influence over, Cmp % and Int rate, he was really bad in.
Coming into his third year as starter he should improve somewhat and has McNutt and DJK returning but loses Bulaga and Moeaki. Net, net, I think Iowa sees modest improvement in their passing efficiency. The problem is, they need more than that.
Now excuse me, I’m about to get kicked out of the country by the Americanzis.
Apparently, I hate senior quarterbacks with oodles of experience. That has nothing to do with the fact that Michigan doesn’t have any, I swear.
In all honestly, I think Chappell is a fine QB and a great find for Indiana. He has progressed nicely so far and should take another step forward this year if Indiana’s O-Line can absorb the losses of two 4-year starters. Maybe, maybe not.
As far as the quality of his passer rating he is the opposite of Stanzi; He did the things he could control (Cmp %, Int %) well, but didn’t do so well in the things he needed help in (YPA, TD %). The latter two categories should take a step forward this year as IU’s top 5 WRs return this year. Again, if the O-line holds up IU should be a pretty saucy passing team.
All in all, I expect there to be a significant gap between Stanzi and Chappell. He’s slotted here because the support he has around him isn’t as good as that of the others ahead of him.
Originally I was going to do a spotlight diary on Forcier similar to one I’m working on for Denard Robinson but, since Forcier is more of a known quantity in terms of style and actual production evaluating his prospects is much more straight forward.
As most Michigan fans know, Forcier was a Godsend for Rich Rodriguez in 2009. From his pedigree to his tutelage by Marv Marinovich to his early enrollment, Forcier’s freshman performance didn’t exactly come without signal. Based on my previous work on QB maturation, Forcier’s freshman year was solidly that of an average true freshman 5 star recruit which is well above that of the typical first year starter. Considering that 5 star QB recruits almost always go to very good, if not elite, football programs and are therefore surrounded by elite and mostly mature talent (see Chad Henne), Forcier proved that all the fanfare that accompanied his arrival in Ann Arbor wasn’t just optimistic hype. And he sustained a meaningful injury to his throwing shoulder early in the season.
What’s more remarkable to me is that as polished as he was, he still showed room for tremendous growth. In terms of performance metrics Forcier was ahead of schedule in completion percentage and YPA, and he met expectations for TD rate and INT rate. The four picks he threw in the Ohio State game took his INT rate from 2.5% to 3.5%. If he had maintained the INT rate had going into the game—resulting in 1 INT and 3 INC instead of 4 INTs—his final passer rating would have been 2 points higher with all else being equal.
Those keeping track will note that, true to his hype, Forcier was ahead of schedule in terms of the self-controlled parameters (Comp. %, INT %) and solid in the team help parameters (YPA, TD %). Michigan has a stable of high potential receivers with extensive starting experience and development time and also has the best offensive line it has had since 2007. With reasonable personal development and the supporting cast he has around him, Forcier has every opportunity to be all Big Ten this year. Michigan might not have a senior QB in the strict sense, but it has one in the practical sense.
As insurance against Michigan slappy-ism, I’m placing him further down the list than I think he’ll end up.
Terrelle Pryor, JR, Ohio State
Say what you want about TP, no one would think twice about him if he weren’t a baller. As a true freshman, he a had a high passer rating that met the long term quality thresholds establish in the White Rainbow diary. Last year was a step back statistically for him as he regressed in completion percentage, YPA, and INT rate; his TD rate remained solid though. The regression makes some sense between the expansion of his responsibilities in OSU’s offense and the breaking in of new contributors at the skill positions.
Another difference between his freshman and sophomore years is that Pryor ran less often in 2009. This is a bad idea; if Pryor is allowed to flash his running ability explicitly, opposing defenses must respect the threat which would leave easy opportunities in the passing game. Josh Nesbitt is the uber-example of this effect. Nesbitt rarely throws and is inaccurate (46.3%) when he does, but when he connects, the result is a big play. Nesbitt’s YPA in 2009 was a staggering 10.5 accompanied by a good TD rate (6.2%) and solid INT rate (3.1%). I’m pretty sure Nebitt’s YPA was the highest (by over a yard!) in the FBS, and certainly the highest in BCS conferences. He’s not a great passer, but that doesn’t stop him from doing extensive damage when he throws.
This season Ohio State has everybody coming back except for the tight end. Pryos has already shown how much damage he can do when he puts it all together; if you don’t know, ask Oregon. This year he will be better and will have high quality support around him. The result is likely to be an emetic wave of OSU/Pryor hype. Chin up though, chances are that this is his last year on campus.
Cousin’s superiority over Keith Nichol in 2009 was apparent to everyone except Mark Dantonio. Maybe Dantonio had a problem with the fact that it looks like Cousins likes to rub his butt up against his lineman’s during a wind up. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Even though it was his first year as starter, Cousins put up the numbers of a seasoned veteran. His YPA of 8.1 was above the threshold of good QB play, and his Comp.%, TD rate, and INT rate were just a hair’s width away from the thresholds; that’s close enough.
Coming into 2010, Cousins will lose his top receiver in Blair White along with a bunch of other knuckleheads who ain’t going out like dat, son. But, because of Dantonio’s preference for only disciplining players that are either expendable or not worth the heat of benevolence, Cousins has some good to very good WRs retuning in B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell, along with non-knucklehead Keshawn Martin.
The challenge for Cousins will be finding enough time to hook up with his receivers. MSU loses 3 starters from a so-so offensive line in 2009. I don’t expect that to slow Cousins down too much though.
Tolzien and Cousins were neck-and-neck for best returning passers and based on 2009 numbers alone, Cousins actually wins. Both had the same-ish YPA and Tolzien had a better completion percentage, but Cousins had a better TD rate and lower INT rate along with an adequate completion percentage. However, when you look at the team Tolzien has coming with him, his prospects for 2010 look higher and that give him the nod in my book.
The Badgers have a monster offensive line coming back all of which are either returning starters of have substantial starting experience. Running back John Clay was the Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. Tolzien has his top wide receiver back, too. So yeah, there’s absolutely no reason why Wisconsin’s passing attack shouldn’t be very, very good this year.
I don’t have much else to say except that I think Bucky Badger is dumb, and that makes me feel better. What? That’s totally germane to the topic of this diary.
Scheelhasse was a rivals.com 4 star recruit who also received offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and bunch of other solid programs according to Rivals. That’s solid endorsement, but his supporting cast is likely to be a drag. The Illini need to establish all new receivers this season and also need to replace two multi-year starters on the O-line. Beyond that, Illinois is bringing in a new offensive coordinator this year, so there are strong headwinds against Scheelhaase.
Despite grim sounding early returns, 4-star and one time Michigan recruit Kevin Newsome should be the guy for Penn State this year. He has been around for a year and therefore has time invested in a collegiate strength and conditioning program, play book study time, technique development. Penn State has to find a new combination at O-line, but there’s plenty of talent available to make that happen. They have their top 2 WRs retuning as well as really good running back in Evan Royster to take the heat off.
Dan Persa, RS-JR, Northwestern
Persa was a rivals.com 2-star recruit in 2007 who’s biggest offer besides NW came from West Virginia. So, theoretically, Rich Rodriguez thought this guy had some skillz. Northwestern has a solid supporting cast around him with all 5 starters on the O-line returning this year, as well has two WRs who each caught more than 40 balls last year and the teams leading RB (Kafka was the team’s rushing leader in 2009). I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up having a better year than all of these guys.
Robert Marve, RS-JR, Purdue
Marve originally committed to Miami (FL) as a 4 star recruit in the class of 2007. He also received offers from Purdue, Michigan State, and Alabama. He started as a RS-SO at Miami but split time heavily with Jacory Harris. He was suspended for the first game in 2008 for disciplinary reasons related to his arrest for a misdemeanor mischief charge during his redshirt year. He was also suspended for the bowl game for missing class. Oops, I got carried away with the Google-stalking. What can I say, I was fascinated. Besides, I think its worth wondering how this kid handles adversity. This is basically the anti-Tom Brady story.
He transferred because of an apparent falling out with HC Randy Shannon; but Jacory Harris flat out beat him head to head that year. Marve was pretty inaccurate (54.5%) and had an extremely high INT rate (6.1%) and a low YPA (6.0). Marve is coming off a torn ACL suffered just before fall camp last year. His knee is probably fine now, but he had to have missed a lot of pratice time rehabbing his knee rather than working on his accuracy and timing with the receivers.
If he’s grown up since his Miami days Marve has a shot at being the best new QB in the Big Ten saving for a certain someone. Purdue returns the Big Ten’s most prolific WR of 2009, Keith Smith, but is pretty thin at OL. The running game took a big hit when Robert Bolden tore his ACL this spring so a lot of pressure will be put on Marve to produce.
Other QBs of Interest
Kyle Havens, 5th Yr, UMass
I wasn’t going to write anything about UMass because they’re an FCS team that was sub-500 last year and who lost their top rusher and receiver from that team, but then I saw this video from the spring and figured people might get a kick out of it. Madre. Same team, dude.
Anyway, I thought it’d be rude to link that video and not do a write up so here it goes. Havens was actually a rivals.com 3-star JUCO recruit in 2009. He played in and started 10 games last year but his prism stats were terrible: 55.3% Completion percentage, 7.2 YPA (OK, I guess), 3.4% TD Rate, 5.7% INT Rate. That’s against FCS competition.
BGSU had a crazy prolific passing attack last year. They’re all gone, only 4 offensive starters are back this year. As far as QB there are four guys vying for the gig: Matt Schilz, RS-FR, 3 star; Aaron Pankratz, RS-FR, 2 star; Kellen Pagel, RS-FR, not ranked; Caleb Watkins, FR, 2 star.
Pankratz is the only guy to have thrown the ball in a college game (13 attempts), but Schilz was purported to have the inside edge in the spring. Watkins had a bunch of offers from MAC teams, but, his Rivals profile also lists Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Cincinnati, for whatever that’s worth.
Frazer is another senior QB with a lot of experience that I’m turning my nose up at. It’s not me, it’s him. I promise. This will be his 3rd year with meaningful playing time as a starter. His passer rating for the last two years has been dreadful: 103 in 2008, 116 in 2009. Running those numbers through the prism shows that he was indeed a bad passer. Last year was an improvement over 2008 as he improved his completion percentage, YPA and TD rate by normal amounts while improving his INT rate by a large amount. Unfortunately, all of those numbers were bad save for TD rate which was sligtly below average.
This year Frazer has a solid to good RB and an experienced offensive line returning but loses his top 2 WRs from last year. Frazer should be able to improve is Cmp % and INT rate of his own accord, but he has a significant way to go in order to reach high quality veteran numbers and this is his last year to do it. As for YPA and TD rate, my opinion is that you need help from the rest of the offense to get good numbers there, and while the O-line and running game should be solid, having 2 new starting WRs to break in will cut into the progression there.
The Notre Dame offense has a lot going on this off season, new head coach, new offensive scheme, and a new starting QB. Sounds like a tough transition, huh? I actually don’t think so. I don’t see the transition from a Pro Style offense to a Passing Spread to be all that different. Both systems need guys who can pass block, throw, and catch; Notre Dame has all of that, in spades. Crist is a new starter but he was a 5 star recruit who has been on campus working out and improving his technique for two years. Sure, he has to learn a new playbook but Brian Kelly’s system is notoriously simple making it easier for inexperienced players to step right in and be effective. Crist will have a whole off season to learn the system. Sure, he won’t be flawless out of the gate, but I can’t imagine that he’ll be a liability either.
As for the team around him, Crist and Kelly inherit Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph who have already established themselves as elite players at their positions. The O-line has three 4-star recruits returning as starters and the other two spots are likely to be filled with 4-star recruits as well. The retained talent fits the new system like a tailor made glove lined with memory foam. Are we really to believe that Brian Kelly wouldn’t have recruited these players himself?
Some people look at Notre Dame in 2010 and see a situation similar to what Rich Rodriguez walked into at Michigan in 2008. They are wrong. Oh, so wrong.
And there it is. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these players, how big a threat they pose to Michigan’s secondary, and anything I may have overlooked/understated in my assessments. Also any feedback on the Prism Score would be helpful as well.
*Can someone please explain to me how to format tables so they show up with Maize and Blue row and column headers? I’ve tried many things, I’ve failed many times.
/desperate plea for assistance.