While the end of Michigan's bowl streak is disappointing in and of itself, there's more than pride at stake. Specifically, I haven't heard anything about the value of the month's worth of extra practices that come with a bowl bid. It seems as though a team such as Michigan, with all of its youth and inexperience, would benefit quite a bit from the extra practice time. Any thoughts on this and if it sets back Michigan a bit?
There is indeed some value in the extra practices that would come from a bowl bid, but quantifying that is impossible. I don't think the effect will be huge; these days college football is a year-round activity and the hours the players don't spend in supervised practice will be spent doing some other sort of football-related activity. Any effect there will be small.
Have you ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? At the end of the movie the bad guys open the ark and everyone that is looking at it is melted (or something along those lines). I'm convinced that this will happen if I ever watch Michigan's offense again when Sheridan is in the game. Is there a way to watch this that will not cause me to go blind/die?
- Drink. Bob Huggins has actually seen the face of God 46 times with no ill effects.
- Blind yourself now. This will prevent you from having to do it later.
- Bet on Michigan's opponent. This is called a "hedge," and works great in the financial industry!
- Remember that football is just a game, and that you have a beautiful wife and children and a job you love and that your life is going to be okay just as soon as the game is over. If you don't have the wife/kid/job thing going for you, there's always disassembling and re-assembling pens.
- Look into Buddhism, which teaches you to let go of earthly cares other than three-man lines on potential running downs. Even Buddha hates that.
A three parter on the future:
Given the generally mediocre play of our offensive line this year, I was wondering if you had any inside information that you could share with your readers about some of the freshman who are redshirting. Are any showing great promise in practice? Given the performance - or lack thereof - of our O line, I am concerned that some of the freshman may be even worse than those who are currently starting and playing.
The two names that keep coming up are Ricky Barnum and Patrick Omameh. As far as I can tell, most insider expect Barnum to be starting at one of the interior line positions—most likely left guard—next year, and for four subsequent ones. Omameh is a surprise name, as he was one of the last additions to the class and was by far the lowest-rated, but he saw a senior-year growth spurt that got him offers from State, Michigan, and (eventually) Ohio State; there's obviously some potential there.
Rocko Khoury, meanwhile, got some buzz earlier in the year as a guy who was doing well and might actually step in at center if Molk struggled. (This, of course, is the tantalizing possibility of a Moose and Squirrel combo on the interior OL.) He could push for time next year. Dann O'Neill has a great frame and should be very good eventually, but came in needing significant work with technique and strength; next year might be too early from him.
I haven't heard much about Mealer or Wermers. Mealer had a shoulder injury that kept him out much of fall practice, so his absence from the whispers is understandable; Wermers has no such mitigating factor and would appear to be slightly behind.
I am hopeful that that is not the case and that the coaches are letting them develop slowly to help next year when, in all likelihood, we'll have a new starting QB. Similarly, our linebackers have been inconsistent, at best, and not particularly effective. Fitzgerald was a prized recruit, but is only playing on special teams. Any word on him or anyone else who may be redshirting?
Linebacker is going to be rough. Redshirt freshman Brandon Herron hasn't seen the field at all despite playing behind a motley crew and appears on his way to Brandon Logan "oh, yeah, that guy" territory. We saw Marell Evans briefly, and then not again. And two of the true freshmen linebackers are already gone. So, the only guy on the roster we'll see next year is Kenny Demens. Demens is a WLB, though, and Mouton appears to be turning into serviceable player, so he might have to wait a couple additional years before seeing playing time.
Everything relies on extensive improvement from the two starting sophomores and Fitzgerald panning out in a big way; Michigan has no margin for error here until the 2009 recruiting class is ready to play.
I've heard pretty good things about both Demens and Fitzgerald, FWIW.
Other than BooBoo, I cannot think of any freshman DB who can be counted on for high caliber help next year. Let's face it. This year is dismal. Id rather think about the future. While I'm hopeful that we'll continue to recruit well and bring in new talent, I wondering about some we already have. No one seems to be reporting on it.
Well, Brandon Smith and JT Floyd are both redshirting and may be of some assistance; also Michael Williams is working himself into some playing time and doing sort of okay.
In the aftermath of another 3rd and long -> disaster scenario, I'm wondering if Shafer has any proven track record against the pass. Does his scheme actually work, or does he just rely on pass rushing to cover up for a weak secondary? Although our safeties are obviously questionable, our cornerbacks should not be, and the pass defense seems porous at best. When Shafer was hired at Stanford, people assumed the major drop in pass defense was just due to an improved run defense, but could there be a systemic flaw here?
There is another possibility: Michigan's pass defense last year was overrated by the numbers. Opponent pass efficiency ratings in groups (I consider 60 to be bad despite being "average" because all BCS teams these days inflate their statistics in the nonconference schedule):
- The Good: Oregon (#42, but Dennis Dixon was #3 when healthy), Florida (#2)
- The Eh: Appalachian State (#6 but in I-AA), Purdue (#48), Michigan State (#44), Wisconsin (#40)
- The Bad: Penn State (#74), Northwestern (#66), EMU (#85), Illinois (#80), Minnesota (#76)
- The Horrific: ND (#113)
- The Not Applicable: Ohio State (#12)
(Ohio State, of course, got a small lead and entirely stopped passing, so their #12 is meaningless.) By my count here every common opponent to date save Wisconsin is better this year as all return quarterbacks or replace Anthony Morelli with Not Anthony Morelli; trading Dennis Dixon for Brian Johnson isn't that far off.
Meanwhile, at Michigan out went the two starting safeties. And how much of Michigan's tragic fall in pass efficiency defense is due to the near-total incompetence of their replacements? A hell of a lot. How much of that is the fault of the new staff? 10%.
I'm beginning to get as disillusioned with Scott Shafer as all the rest of you are, but it is way, way too early to draw any definitive conclusions.
However: yeah, Michigan's insistence on bringing an extra safety (or two!) on the field in nickel situations instead of a corner is mystifying, as is their inability to keep four DL on the field in that package. Michigan fans were told Shafer was a blitz-happy, man-to-man guy; this year we've gotten almost all zone coverage and a lot of three-man rushes. I don't get any of that.