“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Via Hail to the Blue in the comments, "The softball team is in action today, tomorrow, and Sunday in Lafayette, LA at the Ragin' Cajun Invitational. Follow @umichsoftball on Twitter for live updates. Couple of tough games against UL-Lafayette today and tomorrow down here."
Pitchers and Catchers! There used to be a day sometime in the late summer every year when I start to get really excited about football. This tingling would progress to a low hum when practices started up, and would be a spinal vibration by the time I'm racing into the stadium for whatever MACrifice we're starting against. I miss that. Last year we were doing the basketball book so August was just a bleary eyed gauntlet, and the year before the season started in Jerryworld. This year I already know that excitement will be damped down by a month's worth of reliving The Horror.
Pitchers and catchers reporting isn't so much an event, or even a day on the calendar, as it is a metaphor: It is the day that winter's back begins to break; a promise that day follows night.
W All Track Combined
You can't dampen pitchers and catchers day, not when Omar Infante is the rookie you're praying will lead the offense, not you're seeing his back plus Prince Fielder's and your 4th best pitcher's because the expense of being so awesome has passed what awesome can net.
Sorry, this is supposed to be about Michigan not the Tigers. Ah but it is, for it's a lead-in to Raoul's comprehensive preview of Michigan's baseball team. It's still tough for a northern team to be more than a good mid-major in this sport, but Bakich seems to have Michigan heading in that direction.
When baseball is really good (e.g. their 2006 run) they're the fourth sport in these parts. Are they Michigan's true #4 sport? There was a interesting thread this week where the question of that sport's identity was posed by Wolverine Devotee. To that discussion I added the list at right from Michigan's Title IX reporting. Some of those teams (like lacrosse) are benefiting more from ticket sales/TV revenue generated by opponents' fans. I tried to compare where each stands among other universities, but many schools lie their asses off in those reports regarding women's sports revenues, for example West Virginia says their W Track & Field team takes in what Michigan's hockey team does. My guess is this gets them around a Title IX provision but I don't know which. Either way it makes the stats useless.
My bloody valentine. Sunday there will be a whole bunch of recruits who don't have drivers licenses yet watching the Wisconsin game at Crisler. Next week there will be a large and star-heavy group of those who can drive, and who can also say things like "I'm committing to Michigan," say, for example, if they were suddenly taken by a wave of euphoria that might accompany an effective conference title clinch over a rival. This is not crazy; it has happened before. Go make our football team good, basketball.
FWIW HopeInHoke's diary shows winning the conference from here is possible, but nowhere near a certainty. MSU's only road loss in-conference is to Wisconsin; remember when that was a thing we used to just chalk up to "happens to everyone"? LSA's weekly stats report shows Michigan's superior to an average of remaining opponents in everything but rebounding.
[After the jump: things Marcus Ray et al. say about Michigan's 2014 secondary]
Things Learned at Go Blue Bowl Kickoff Last Monday Brian and I were invited to attend an event to kick off the Go Blue Bowl, an event in April to benefit Marlin Jackson's Fight for Life Foundation. Donors will join flag football teams coached by Marlin, Jason Avant, Jerome Jackson, Donovan Warren, Chris Perry, Cato June, Tim Massaquoi, Marcus Ray, Jeremy Gallon, Roy Manning, Brandon Williams, and Jamar Adams (so far). I have this dream we'll raise enough to field our own team, grab Jeremy Gallon as our player-coach, and have Heiko throw him a bubble screen.
I got to interact with several luminaries, including my first face-to-face with Lloyd Carr who, true to form, asked what I majored in before anything else. He was far more interested in seeing his old players than interacting with a member of the media, which, come to think of it, not having to do that anymore is probably the thing he appreciates most about being retired.
Marcus Ray: great secondaries have roles. [Desimone via Ace ha ha I made people find your old blog].
Marcus Ray had some interesting thoughts on the secondary. He said a unit needs players who can fulfill a certain role: an enforcer, a lockdown cover guy, a field general who can read the defense quickly and tell everyone where to be. On the '97 team Hendricks was the enforcer, and Woodson was the cover guy and field general; Marcus declined to credit himself with a role so I pointed out he was the safety valve. We agreed Kovacs was both that and the general, and they missed him last year. They've also missed an enforcer—he didn't say it but I wondered, if Tommy Hendricks was roaming around out there, if opponents would have been as comfortable throwing over the heads of the linebackers.
Marcus disagreed with my assessment that experience for the safeties would make a big difference; he said that's innate, and once a player's learned the defense he'll be what he is. Qualifier 1: Marcus didn't start until he was a redshirt sophomore, i.e. the same age as Jarrod Wilson in 2014. Qualifier 2: he said the same thing about the OL, pointing out that Backus and Hutchinson started on a national championship team. He hopes that Dymonte Thomas, now that he's up to speed, will be that enforcer; Wilson's "alright" but Marcus's blanket statement about the safeties not being aggressive enough, I'm guessing, is on him.
He also admitted when pressed that guys like himself and Woodson would probably have gone to Ohio State nowadays. Michigan was 8-4 the year he was recruited, but they also beat two Top 10 teams (PSU and OSU) and started the season #3. Perception is everything.
Among the other guys, there was plenty of unhidden contempt for Rodriguez, which is is understandable with so many defensive backs around. The general breaking point for the consortium of former DBs was when Donovan Warren was told to play in the parking lot vs. 2009 MSU. From that UFR:
15 (Pen -5)
Seriously, what the hell: Donovan Warren is playing twelve yards off the line of scrimmage on this play. So a hitch is wide open(-2) for a zillion yards. That's just easy. I guess Williams is supposed to get out in a flat zone here but he fakes a blitz first, which makes his effort to get out futile. Reason he was pulled? Play comes back because this receiver was covering up a TE who went downfield. Hitch on the other side of the field was just as open, FWIW.
Apparently all of our efforts to find sense in that were futile except that incompetent nitwits sometimes get to run things, and by now everyone who isn't from West Virginia agrees that Gibson is an incompetent nitwit. There was an even stronger consensus around Roy Manning (who was going to be there but couldn't make it); apparently even going back to their playing days they've all thought Roy's going to be a head coach of a major program some day.
I was asked to give a speech, and cut it short when I realized I was the only speaker who didn't have an obvious reason for being up there, but in my conceit I've put the full text of it in a diary. Go there only if you like sappy Michigan things.
Best of the Board
GOODBYE REST OF THE DAY
Via Corn Nation there's an interactive map of recruiting you will now spend the next six hours playing with. The more stars the bigger the logo. Michigan versus the two big rivals above.
"Among the other guys, there was plenty of unhidden contempt for Rodriguez, which is is understandable with so many defensive backs around. The general breaking point for the consortium of former DBs was when Donovan Warren was told to play in the parking lot."
Seth - that is a story I'm unfamiliar with. Can you expand it on it a bit more?
I'm shocked the lacrosse team brings in $2 million+. That's good news, considering its such a young program. Part of the reason it makes so much is because there are very few scholarships - only 12.5.
But, I think it will raise more in the future and could be a good spring sport for the athletic department. College lacrosse is a good spectator sport and after the team builds a presence on campus the games could bring out good numbers of students and local M fans. Teams like Syracuse, DUke, UVA, UNC and even ND & Denver bring out big local crowds. Even Marquette averaged 2,679(!) last year in their first season. I would love to see solid crowds of about 3-5,000 at the Big House or Oosterbahn a few years down the road.
They have a game tonight at Oosterbahn - go check it out if you're in town!
...gave me false hope that this was going to contain substantive information about Michigan Softball. The softball team is in action today, tomorrow, and Sunday in Lafayette, LA at the Ragin' Cajun Invitational. Follow @umichsoftball on Twitter for live updates. Couple of tough games against UL-Lafayette today and tomorrow down here.
I cut my softball update since that section was getting long. I added your comments, which are as helpful as mine. My softball analysis isn't very substantive at this point in the year since I start following them in earnest never, and follow them casually once they come back to Ann Arbor.
They're the college softball version of the 2013 Detroit Tigers: awesome starting pitching, an infielder who's among the game's best hitters but probably shouldn't be playing a high-frequency defensive position, and one outfield spot that seems like a constant sore spot.
Assoc. Editor & Business Manager, MGOBLOG email me for advertising | Alias: @Misopogon
Thanks a lot! Didn't mean it to come off as a complaint or anything, just commenting. If you need any softball information throughout the year, stats or game updates, let me know, I'm in a position to provide that.
Are you really that surprised? Should Michigan have turned away guys in the '90s who came here because it appeared Michigan was the most likely team to win Rose Bowls and national championships in the region so that later they could claim to have won only with guys who came here for the academics and a childhood adoration for the helmet decals?
Give him credit for being honest. Some of Michigan's greatest players ever are guys who came to Michigan because it was on par with the hometown Buckeyes plus a better academic rep.
Assoc. Editor & Business Manager, MGOBLOG email me for advertising | Alias: @Misopogon