“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.”
Site stuff. I fixed a few performance issues* and have convinced myself the site is noticeably snappier afterwards. At this point I've knocked out almost all of the low-hanging fruit and am down to things like "serve static content from a cookieless domain" that 1) WTF and 2) don't promise much more than a few percentage points here and there. So… yeah.
Moving on in annual Brian Beats On The Site stuff: I'm also working on—and at this point it's far enough along that I think I can announce it because it will happen—a searchable UFR database. If you want to see all the video I clipped in which Tate Forcier throws the ball on third down, that can happen. Etc. Content over the next few weeks might be a little sparse as I attempt to beat that into submission.
I am still planning a spring game UFR, which is about half done. I totally forgot about converting the file into something I can clip—which is a day-long process, basically—and then converted the wrong file entirely. I am not in midseason form.
Right and just forever. "We Are ND" was begging for this but I didn't realize it until someone put it on the youtubes:
Tying that in with Brady Quinn for Heisman and Jimmy Clausen For Heisman: perfect. Also reason to go back and revisit "we have not said one word about Michigan. We have not talked about their players; we have not talked about their coaches. We'll talk tomorrow." I miss Charlie Weis intensely already.
MGObama. Yes, I just did that. Obama descended upon commencement this weekend and many people were very excited. I wasn't except insofar as being the sort of university where the sitting president drops by to give a commencement speech might help with offensive linemen in the 2011 class. (Priorities, people.) Even so, I did watch the thing so I caught what I'm pretty sure was an MGoBlog reference in the student speaker's address:
As a nation, we have found that changes can bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. We can see our ambivalence in that change here on campus as well. After the horror of a certain football game played here a few years ago, many were thrilled when Michigan hired a coach who would bring a new energy and style of football to our school. But after two seasons, change has been slow [audience laughter] and full of growing pains. [more audience laughter] Today, we must re-examine our views toward change.
Gotta be, right? Alex Marston gets 100 mgopoints.
OHL Draft. It was mostly good news from the annual exercise in subterfuge that is the OHL draft. Michigan's two 2012 commits, Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick, both went in the late rounds to teams that don't have a reputation for attracting high-end talent not already headed for the OHL. Those are pure flier picks, and we should expect to see both at Michigan in a couple years.
Other players of interest:
Matia Marcantuoni, who supposedly had a deal with Oshawa, fell to 18th after telling OHL teams he would not sign. Kitchener picked him, though, and Kitchener is one of those teams that games the draft all the time. Marcantuoni subsequently announced he would report. It would have been nice to grab the kid, but no one was banking on it.
D Grant Webermin, who had been talking up Michigan, went to Windsor at the end of the first, and everyone expects he'll report. Webermin was ranked in the 70s by scouting services, so this was the opposite of a reach: guy will sign.
Kitchener also took D Jacob Trouba in the third round. Trouba has already committed to the NTDP and the third round is late enough to suggest that Trouba—a universally acclaimed top-ten talent—will be a tough sign for Kitchener. I think at this point there's a substantial financial penalty if Trouba were to defect, and if he's going to be in the NTDP for a couple years why bother with the OHL after?
G Dalton Izyk, a Nieves teammate and high profile 2012 goalie prospect, went in the 11th as well and should be headed to college.
Jon Merrill, LD -- USA Under 18 Regarded as one of the best defenseman prospects coming out of the US this year, Merrill looks to have leapfrogged his competition and could be debated as being one of the top three best defensive prospects in the entire draft. Merrill was simply dominant in Belarus and his ability to play in all situations, including running the power play, certainly makes him all the more valuable. Merrill is explosive, gets the puck on net and creates lanes all over the ice. He is effective and reliable defensively and proves to be very difficult to win space against. Scouts are salivating at the chance to add Merrill to their rosters, as he is already a dominant player but still has a lot of room for improvement. This kid is for real.
"Merrill was never under the radar. Everyone knows how good of a player Jon Merrill is," Kleinendorst said. "But he really stepped his game up. He probably helped himself more than anybody over there as far as what he did, how he played. He went out and controlled every moment, whether it was with the puck or without it. He saved his best hockey for Belarus, no question. It was almost like he was just waiting for that tournament to start. So what you got to see was what his true potential really was. He contributed as much as anybody."
If he lives up to that hype, Michigan shouldn't experience any dropoff on the blueline despite losing Summers and Kampfer. Still nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately.
Just one more year of this. Donovan Warren, of course, did not get drafted after putting his name in early. This requires damage control from the folks around him who thought entering early was a good idea:
“Every decision is a gamble,” said Warren’s godfather, Mark Carrier, who was hired as the Jets’ defensive line coach this offseason. “I don’t think he regretted it. Obviously, I think he wished things worked out a little bit different for him. But . . . the Michigan he went to wasn’t there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden?”
Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not true. I would just like to reach the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone, where people leave the program and don't have an easy, program-bashing excuse as to why they didn't get drafted. At some point it's on you, right?
APR, now with slight teeth. The NCAA just officially enacted a few rules changes. Foremost among them is a move to a 68 team tournament, but there are changes of slight interest when it comes to college football academics:
Endorsed a recommendation that will require football players to complete a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall semester to remain academically eligible for the following season. The board said studies show players who complete at least nine hours in the fall are more likely to be academically eligible in the spring. Players who fail to meet the requirement would have to sit out four games, but could reduce the penalty to two games if they complete 27 credit hours by the end of the next summer session.
Endorsed a recommendation from the Committee on Academic Performance to eliminate waivers for penalties assessed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have players leave school after completing their eligibility and are not academically eligible. That's a problem for players who leave school to attend pre-NFL combine workouts. The board agreed that eliminating the waivers would be an incentive to improve retention and eligibility issues.
There are APR waivers for players who don't graduate after finishing their playing career? Yeesh. I've praised the APR for bringing some accountability to schools but there's still a long way to go. For example, the Bylaw Blog sort of fisked one of the annual "grraaaah NCAA" columns that fruit like morels every March. Point 1 from graaah MSM columnist:
Kentucky’s graduation rate scorecard for its black players for the last six years reads like this: 18, 17, 9, 17, 17, zero. Over the last 10 years, its black player graduation rate has never risen above 29 percent. Its overall graduation rate passed 50 percent only once, in 2001.
I thought this might be cherry-picking the federal graduation rate, which counts eligible transfers against you, but Kentucky's most recent graduation success rate is 31%. More like graduation FAIL rate, amirite? (BONUS: Kentucky's team GPA of just above two is a seven year low.)
Point 2 from Compliance Guy:
Kentucky’s most recent multiyear APR for men’s basketball is 979. That puts them within the top 10% of all Division I basketball programs and above the median for all Division I sports. So by the measure the NCAA uses to determine penalties, Kentucky basketball is not just getting by, rather it is thriving.
WTF? 979? Waivers are making a mockery of the APR. A 925 is supposed to represent a 60% graduation rate. Kentucky is barely clearing half that and they have a 979! While the thing isn't totally toothless—Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State have all seen their basketball programs lose scholarships—any system that can produce that kind of divergence is broken. Hit that Bylaw Blog post for all the waivers that have been instituted; they make my persistent concern that Michigan might find itself in the redzone laughable.
Tangent: Notice that the two changes above are football programs getting tougher on themselves. Basketball couldn't care less, evidently. The Bylaw Blog gets ornery about that, too.
Etc.: Misopogon's Decimated D Diaries get a shout-out on ESPN. Remember the epic ESPN/SEC deal that would CHANGE COLLEGE SPORTS FOREVER? Yeah, it's basically just a TV deal, one that gives the SEC the same amount of money for the next 15 years, in which time the BTN will grow until it is the size of Cleveland. You don't need me to tell you that Jeff Defran is an idiot and WTKA should can his ass, but Bruce Madej will explain it to you if you want. Michigan will wear throwbacks at the Big Chill.
i was there, and chuckled audibly at the 'horror' reference. my girlfriend (her son graduated this year) asked me what was so funny, and i whispered that i thought it was an mgoblog reference. the guy behind me bumped my shoulder and said he'd been thinking the same thing.
too bad obama didn't do a shoutout to UFR...i thought he may have said "unverified voracity is the key to your futures," but my poncho may have been messing up my hearing.
When I saw that reference, I forgot it started as an MGoBlog meme. I have moved to the point where I just presume it is the name every Michigan fan uses for that dark day in September 2007, because well, it just makes sense.
I, too, am sick of players bashing M upon leaving. I agree with you Brian, it seems that a lot of them are just using it as an excuse because it's there. Come on Donovan, you left early and didn't get drafted. Every Michigan fan was pulling for you even though most of us knew it wasn't a great decision and none of us were happy about it. But we were all still pulling for you. To then rip on UM afterwards as if it's somehow our fault you didn't get drafted is weak sauce (I know these are actually the words of his God father, but he's speaking on Donovan's behalf).
The UM that Brandon Graham committed to isn't there anymore either, but he seemed to fair OK.
Warren's assertions aren't totally devoid of backing. Michigan had produced some pretty good #1 corners for the decade or so prior to Warren's arrival (Ty Law, Charles Woodson, Jeremy Lesueur, Leon Hall) and the school had developed a pretty good tradition under Moeller/Carr. And the Shafer hiring was an all-around disaster, which has been acknowledged by absolutely everyone.
I'm not totally absolving Warren (his workouts could have been better, obviously), but the gist of what was said (that Michigan wasn't the same anymore) is true. Scouts ought to pay attention to game film, not low bench numbers and slow forty times; and when it came down to games, players were confused and Shafer's schemes were asinine. Those things obviously didn't lean in Warren's favor.
that said - many, many great players play on lousy / mediocre units during their college careers and still get found by the nfl...rodger saffold comes immediately to mind this past season, for example...arrelius benn is another. their perception wasn't completely discolored by the lousiness around them.
and scouts DO look at game film. they just watch for much different things than we do, obviously - in the case of corners, they're looking at ability to press, turning the hips, breaking on the ball, all sorts of stuff that mel kiper yaps about but which i absolutely don't understand (and don't really care about, either). if warren had shown better ability to do those things - confusing scheme or not - despite his less-than-ideal combine numbers, he would have gotten drafted.
i'm guessing, anyway...the fact is, warren was good but not great last season and never really progressed much from his freshman year. that, combined with his lousy 40 time, did him in on draft day. the coaching stuff may have kept him from piling up stats but didn't keep him from showing nfl-ready skills.
i still think he can be a good player, and he'll have a shot. i do wish him the best.
For that matter, any player having to go through this transformation has got to be wondering what in the heck they signed up for. Imagine how much worse it is for them than us.
That said, bottom line appeared to be his measurables, and that is on him, not on the program transition. If anything, outwardly it appears that Barwis' system should have done more for his measurables than Gittleson's. (Or at least that is what is advertised. I don't think I can say I've really seen it have effect on the field yet. Not like the guys they transformed at WVU. Time in system I guess ...)
So, not a nice comment by his godfather, but whatever .... I won't hold that against Donovan. I did think he was good last year. Good enough that I wanted him to stay. I hope he is able to develop as a free agent at the next level.
I sometimes think Matthew McConaughey starred in "We are Graham" so I can only point out this writer's error once. They're more similar than most realize.
Every man at some point is gonna lose a battle. He's gonna fight and he's gonna lose. But what makes him a man, is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. This game is not over, this battle is not over. So let's hear it .
Nothing against Donovan Warren or his godfather, but "the Michigan he went to" would have liked if Mr. Warren had played a bit more like the Warren who showed such promise as a freshman and sophomore, not the mediocre player that showed up during this past season and at the combine. Yes, I do agree that injuries and an inconsistent defense led to some of his struggles, but it wasn't UM that made him run 4.6 40s or fail to impress scouts at two differnet pro days/combines.
I agree with Brian that at some point, players need to start taking responsibility for the way they perform on the field. I could understand an offensive player saying that the dramatic shift in offensive philosophy hurt his draft stock a bit, but Warren's flaws on defense had very little to do with the scheme, at least initially. Sure, when Warren was being asked to play a hybrid safety-cornerback position toward the end, I wasn't surprised to see him trailing plays and struggling. But he struggled early in the season against Michael Floyd and Golden Tate (I know, top guys), and he showed a penchant for gambling more than he should have considering his less-than-elite recovery speed.
I'm trying not to bash Warren and his family too much because they are probably just speaking out of disappointment, but at some point you have to realize that the reason you were not drafted was because 32 teams felt there were 255 better players/fits for their team. I wasn't accepted to Michigan Law School, and the reason was because my resume simply did not match up with others they accepted. Sure, there might be a few students toward the bottom that I could have leapfrogged, but the fact remained that my raw numbers simply were not "good" enough to gain admittance. Warren and co. can complain all day about how the changes at UM caused him to slip, but utlimately it was Warren who failed to impress scouts enough this year to warrant a draft selection. Graham, Mesko, and Brown were in the same boat, and yet somehow they managed to persevere.
Warren showed promise as a sophomore? Warren's sophomore year was his worst of the three years he spent at U of M.
You don't think the coaching change had an effect on Warren? You mentioned yourself that he was playing safety as a sophomore, and all the cornerbacks were playing 10 yards off in 2008. He played off a lot in 2009, too.
You want stats to back up those assertions? In 2009 he had 66 tackles (14 more than both 2007 and 2008), four interceptions (he totaled only 2 in '07-'08), and 11 pass breakups (matching his career total to that point). He obviously didn't have a good game against Notre Dame, but he was pretty good this past year against almost everyone except the Fighting Irish, who (as you noted) had a pretty good passing game with Clausen/Floyd/Tate.
I mentioned he was playing safety as a Junior, and that was because of the various injuries/suspensions/walk-ons causing havoc in the depth chart. In 2008 he played mostly corner, at least as far I remember. He might have slid over to safety once and a while, but certainly not as much as this year. But either way, you definitely saw the potential for him to make the leap to elite corner as other UM DBs have done between their sophomore and junior years.
He was an All-Freshman performer his first year, and as a sophomore he led the team with 4 pass break-ups and looked like he could match up against the best WRs in the Big 10. This year started our reasonably well (like I said, I would not read too much into ND), but even before the move you saw a guy who gambled a bit too much and who struggled to catch up to guys when he bit on fakes. I question the 11 pass break-ups this year (the only source I found for that was mgoblue, while NCAA stats list 7), and 3 of his 4 INTs came in consecutive games (IU, MSU, and Iowa). And for the record, when I see my CB's tackles jump and he is not considered a run-defending DB, that means guys are catching balls and he has to come over and make the tackle. Sure, some were the result of him having to play more safety toward the end of the season, but it still seemed like the better passing teams were more than willing to take shots at him in coverage.
I am not going to get into a debate about the relative merits of Warren's season based on some loose numbers. I really feel bad that he was not drafted and I honestly believe that he was a good player this year. But the reason scouts didn't select him had less to do with how he was used in RR's system and more to do with the fact that he failed to run good times, impress in interviews, or show the type of instincts that top DBs have. Warren and co. need to stop blaming the coaching staff for all their problems and start recognizing their own responsibilities.
Inifintiely more tolerable than the original soundtrack version. I only made it through 1:30 of the original, so I didn't see Kelly or the Sgt. Pepper John Lennon / Michael Rosenberg love child guy. Anyone know who that is?
Maybe he would have been drafted if he ever progressed in his sophomore and junior year. I thought he actually played his best his freshman year. So instead of trying to bash the program how about you look at yourself for running a incredibly slow forty and never becoming more than a solid cornerback while you were here.
the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone
It's fast approaching. Because we're getting pretty close to the whole team being Rich Rod recruited (say that real fast 3 times), and then it's going to be kinda hard to say "This is not the Michigan I signed up for....when I signed that letter of intent...with Rich Rod....to play for...Rich Rod's teams....uh...yeah...well....THE TOWELS WEREN'T AS FLUFFY AS PROMISED!!".
I mean, a coaching change does kind of stick it to the students. I'd rather they say nothing at all, if not something nice. But those who have had to deal with it have dwindling numbers. Three of five, with redshirts, signed to play for Rich Rod (because while that first class may not have been all players Rich wanted, they all knew at that point Rich was going to be the coach). So, I'd say, 2 more years, max. Though if you're getting a 5th or medical year, I don't know that you really have or want to complain that much. So maybe just one, with a small class to decrease the odds.