"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
As alumni and fans of the University of Michigan football program, we demand a clear explanation of the significance of a Uniqname. It seems that Uniqnames have taken on an increased level of importance in the day and age of the Internet Stalker, and the public information available on the Umich directory will decide the fates of not one man, not one team, not even one program - but the fates of many lazy, pimple-faced, cyberspace inhabitants as well. I hope you do not cower under the weight of such intense pressure.
Does getting a Uniqname mean that someone is enrolled? Or does it simply mean that they might want to play football at the University of Michigan and the opportunity to Bind or Unbind could excite a star football player into committing to our great program?
We want to know!
As the steward of this public university - and a slave to the Freedom of Information Act - we require an answer from you at once. We will not leave our computers until we get one (or on January 3rd, whichever comes first), and you don't want a bunch of scoliosis lawsuits on your hands.
Magnus and the MGoBlog Community
P.S. Or if you can just tell us whether William Campbell is enrolled, you can forget about the rest of this letter. Thanks.
Shavodrick Beaver, who had been committed to Michigan since the spring, has changed his commitment to Tulsa. There had been rumors of him wavering, but he recruited heavily for Michigan and spoke publicly about how he couldn't wait to come to Michigan, was ready to compete for the job, etc. But now the #8 dual-threat quarterback is staying close to his home in Texas.
This event affects the perception of Michigan's program, but probably not the program itself. Most analysts and fans expected fellow QB commit Tate Forcier to compete with holdover Steven Threet for the starting quarterback job in 2009. A common scenario had Threet starting the season and slowly giving way to the more talented, more athletic Tate Forcier. If this scenario had played out, Beaver probably would have redshirted.
Looking forward, Threet is scheduled to run out of eligibility after the 2011 season. Forcier, if he doesn't redshirt at any point, would finish his four years in 2012. If the aforementioned scenario took place, Beaver would have redshirted, hung around for four years, and perhaps started as a fifth year senior in 2013.
Let me say that again.
Very realistically, Beaver's decommitment affects the 2013 season.
Now, depth is obviously a concern. Every team wants great players waiting in the wings to take over from great players. But is that realistic? Probably not. Assuming Forcier sticks with his commitment, we'll have two 4-star QB's over two classes of eligibility - and that doesn't include possible replacements for Beaver in the 2009 class, such as Tajh Boyd, Eugene Smith, or Denard Robinson (all 4-star players themselves).
Michigan will be okay. The Wolverines will plow through and be successful. The offense started to hit its stride at the end of the 2008 season, especially running the ball. If we can run the ball effectively without an effective QB, imagine what type of offense we will have when Threet improves his accuracy or Forcier steps in with his pinpoint accuracy and good athleticism.
We need not worry about the loss of our third string quarterback.
Rumors are flying about the potential transfers of three more players at the end of this 2008 season. This comes on the heels of two of the most notorious transfers in recent memory, Ryan Mallett and Justin Boren.
Sam McGuffie, RB. McGuffie sent his letter of intent late on signing day 2008. He was a strong Michigan commit during his senior year, but that faded as time passed. He was apparently enamored with the Cal Bears on signing day and unsure of whether to go ahead with his Michigan commitment or sign with Cal. He stuck with the Wolverines. Even before signing day, Michigan fans touted him as the Wolverines' next great running back. Many guessed that he would be the starting running back at the beginning of his freshman season, leaping in front of returning players like Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, and Kevin Grady. Indeed, he started the year as the #1 running back, taking advantage of untimely injuries to Minor and Brown. In the second game of the year, he gained 178 yards against Notre Dame in the rain and garnered even more support from fans. However, due to a lack of power, the improving health of Minor, and a concussion against MSU, the majority of the touches were given to Minor, who seized the opportunity. I expected Minor to start from the beginning and was disappointed when he lost what I thought should have been his job. Minor's fumbles were a drawback, but he also had big-play potential. As the season has progressed, though, it is interesting to see the blind fervor with which Michigan fans have rooted for McGuffie. In my mind, he will undoubtedly be a good college running back...someday. But entering the Ohio State game, he sits fourth in yards per carry with 4.1; he is behind Michael Shaw (5.8 ypc), Minor (5.2), and Brown (4.6). Perhaps that is due to the poor offensive line play early in the season, but it is an interesting stat nonetheless. I have an uneasy feeling that a significant portion of McGuffie's following is due to his race. His high school stats and highlight videos are truly remarkable, but other gifted running backs in recent memory (Darrell Scott and Noel Devine come to mind) haven't received the same level of national acclaim coming out of high school. I also find it interesting that Michigan message boards have reflected panic in the fan base even though McGuffie might not even be the best back in his class (I'm talking about you, Michael Shaw). McGuffie had late doubts about coming to Michigan but stayed; Shaw had been committed to Penn State but realized Michigan was the better place. Would we be hearing the same uproar if Shaw were transferring instead of McGuffie? According to a reliable source on this board, McGuffie had asked to switch positions to slot receiver, which I found interesting because I had suggested that he move to slot receiver in my post-Toledo diary. Maybe he's homesick, maybe he's upset about his playing time, maybe he doesn't think he can cut it as a Big Ten running back. Regardless, I doubt Michigan's team will suffer greatly due to his loss. There is plenty of talent left, either currently on the team (Minor, Brown, Shaw) or in the class of 2009 (Teric Jones, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jeremy Gallon, Vincent Smith).
Zion Babb, WR. Depth is somewhat of a concern at wide receiver, but Babb's 3-star pedigree didn't exactly excite the fanbase. Babb is a player with good speed and athleticism; there have also been rumors that he doesn't work very hard and dogs it at practice. If those rumors are true, it's no wonder Babb found himself behind players like James Rogers and perennial benchwarmer Laterryal Savoy. With young, emerging players like Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum, Martavious Odoms, and Toney Clemons, it's not a surprise that Babb wants to take his talents elsewhere. His athleticism might serve him well with different coaches and with more opportunities to make plays in game situations. I would not be surprised to see him have a successful career elsewhere.
Artis Chambers, S. Chambers entered Michigan in the class of 2007 and earned immediate playing time on special teams. Unfortunately, a record keeping error was made that negated his eligibility for the remainder of his freshman year. The Rodriguez regime seemed less excited about Chambers's abilities and relegated him to the bench for most of the 2008 season. Chambers was ineffective early in the season as a strong safety/weakside linebacker hybrid and hadn't played much since that experiment failed. This is a blow to the safety depth chart for Michigan, which loses two safeties this year (Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart). As it currently stands, the 2009 Michigan team will have junior Steve Brown, redshirt sophomore Michael Williams, redshirt freshman Brandon Smith, redshirt freshman JT Floyd (who may be a corner instead), and an influx of true freshman safeties (Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, Justin Turner, perhaps Vlad Emilien, some of whom may be destined for corner or linebacker). Even though Chambers probably would have been buried on the depth chart by Mouton at WILL, Brown at SS, and Williams at FS, he could have provided depth in case of injury or underperformance. I doubt Chambers will be a star anywhere, although I wish him luck. He stuck through the transition and has obviously decided he doesn't fit with these coaches. That's much more than I can say for...
Justin Boren, G. The son of former Michigan linebacker Mike Boren, Justin came in and played sparingly as a true freshman in 2006. He started at left guard and blocked a Minnesota defender out of the back of the end zone in 2007, one of the coolest plays I've seen. Rumors flew about why he decided to transfer to Ohio State in the spring of 2008. His reasoning was that the Rodriguez staff represented a loss of family values. Some said that the coaches cussed too much. Others suggested that he didn't like the Barwis workouts. The most feasible rumor I heard - although I have no assurance of its voracity - was that Lloyd Carr had promised to offer a scholarship to Justin's younger brother Zach, a fullback/linebacker/defensive end type, who would be graduating high school in 2009. Rodriguez and his staff deemed the younger Boren unworthy of a scholarship offer, which upset the Borens. This could explain the "lack of family values" that Boren mentioned to the press. Justin Boren subsequently became a Buckeye and Zach is an OSU commit as well. In Justin's stead, Michigan plays a guy who was a defensive tackle at the beginning of the season.
Ryan Mallett, QB. Mallett came to U of M from Texarkana High School as the quarterback savior, a 6'7" gunslinger with a supersonic rocket attached to his right shoulder. He played fairly well as a true freshman in 2007 when senior Chad Henne got hurt; everyone in Wolverineland expected Mallett to be the next great QB. It was a match made in Heaven. Except Lloyd Carr decided to retire, Michigan hired a read option coach, and Mallett didn't think NFL scouts were big fans of the read option. He headed off to Arkansas as soon as Rodriguez was hired. Meanwhile, Michigan's passing game has been anemic with redshirt freshman Steve Threet and walk-on sophomore Nick Sheridan. Mallett would have had a couple reliable targets in Greg Mathews and Martavious Odoms, plus a couple big-play guys in Stonum and Hemingway. But the two best receiver options for 2008 - Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington - headed off to the NFL. I'm guessing Michigan's passing game would be more efficient and more dangerous with Mallett at the helm, but considering he only completed 49% of his passes as a freshman and he is probably less mobile than either Threet or Sheridan, I doubt his presence would have made much of an impact on Michigan's current 3-8 record in 2008. Still, if my plans for the future entailed playing in the NFL, I would probably also shy away from a guy whose biggest quarterback success story was Shaun King; then again, Arkansas's best QB in recent memory is a cokehead wide receiver for the Jaguars, so maybe Mallett figured, "If I'm going to be a failure, I might as well fail close to home."
Justin Feagin, change-up QB. From all indications, Feagin isn't ready to be a full time quarterback in the FBS. He has some issues with mechanics that can be seen on high school game film and college practice film. He also seems to lack some arm strength, and Rich Rodriguez has hinted that he also lacks the ability to make the right reads in the passing game. That being said, Feagin obviously held some potential to play quarterback in college. High school film indicates that he has the ability to make some plays with his arm, which means he can be a threat to throw the ball. This threat seemed to be enough to keep Minnesota's defense off balance when Feagin played QB. Even though he never threw the ball, you could tell that Minnesota's defense was just a little bit hesitant to come up in run support when he had the ball. This could serve the team well as this season - and, potentially, future seasons - goes on. I liked the way that the coaching staff sprinkled Feagin throughout the game. They didn't give him a series or two. They put him in for a play or two at a time. No matter who the starter is in future weeks - Threet or Sheridan - Feagin should continue to see occasional action at QB.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Harrison, SS/LB. At least for now, Rodriguez and Scott Shafer decided to do away with the 3-3-5. After the Purdue nightmare, they decided to go back to a four-man front. They should never have veered from that set, but that's neither here nor there. For much of Saturday's game, Michigan employed a 4-2-5 against Minnesota's spread offense. The Wolverines limited Minnesota to six points (two field goals) and 188 total yards. Brandon Harrison played closer to the line than usual and came up with some key plays, especially a sack of Minnesota QB Adam Weber. This should continue for Northwestern and possibly Ohio State. Thompson is a decent run stopper, but he's ineffective on pass plays, whether he's covering or blitzing. If the team wanted to stick to a 4-3 this year, they should have kept Thompson at MIKE and moved Ezeh to SAM. But they didn't. Now Thompson has been effectively benched against spread teams (presumably, unless things change this week). Harrison is adept at run support and also has excellent speed to chase plays down from behind. Unless Michigan encounters power run formations in which Thompson would hold up better than the 205-pound Harrison, the SS should stay near the line and Michael Williams or Charles Stewart should play deep. This was a nice adjustment by Shafer.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
This was the best defensive game of the season. The entire team tackled well and maintained their responsibilities.
Stephen Schilling, RT. Despite the loss, the offense scored 35 points. It's hard to pick a particular player - with a viable backup - who performed poorly. Threet's performance was frustrating for many reasons, but largely because he refused to keep the ball on the read option. The backside defensive end was crashing every time and Threet seemed not to care. But since Sheridan is clearly a worse option, my vote goes for Schilling. I don't know if I'm frustrated more by Schilling's play or his seeming underperformance as a former five-star lineman. Either way, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, he made Purdue's defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, look like Vernon Gholston. Schilling got bull rushed straight back into Threet for a sack at a crucial time - when Purdue was only rushing three defensive linemen. Perhaps Perry Dorrestein and Mark Ortmann should be the starting tackles. I don't know that it would be better, but it would be less frustrating because I expect three-star linemen to get owned.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Scott Shafer, Defensive Coordinator and/or Tony Gibson, Secondary Coach. Shafer has weakened Michigan's best position group by taking one defensive lineman off the field to run the 3-3-5. Gibson has taken several promising defensive backs and turned them into sieves and/or umbrellas. With a very athletic and fast secondary, Michigan isn't making interceptions. Cissoko came out of high school with coaches and recruiting gurus raving about his technique and his backpedal. A cornerback with a great backpedal is a very dangerous weapon, because he has the ability to break quickly on passes thrown in front of him. It also lengthens the time he can keep his eyes in the backfield before a receiver breaks his cushion and forces the cornerback to open up his hips to turn and run with a deep route. But every time I see Cissoko in anything but press coverage, he immediately opens his hips (as do the other corners). This is a big reason that so many passes are completed in front of Michigan's corners, because as soon as they open their hips and turn to run, opposing wide receivers break off their routes to run outs or hitches. There's no reason a lousy Purdue team should rack up 48 points - more than undefeated Penn State and explosive Illinois did - on Michigan's defense. None. Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, and Brandent Englemon were solid players, but the defense should not have fallen off this much with seven returning starters. In 2007 Michigan only allowed 35 points to Heisman winner/national champion Florida, 39 to then-Heisman front-runner Dennix Dixon and Oregon, and 14 to national championship game participant Ohio State.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Steve Brown, FS. For God's sake, Steve Brown. For God's sake. For. God's. Sake. I had high hopes for Steve Brown. I really did. I watch him run and he's fast. I see him body slam people to the ground on special teams and I cringe. The kid has some sort of mental block or confidence loss when he's at free safety. I don't know what it is, and I don't know how to fix it. I feel bad for him, because I always hear good things about him and I honestly think he tries hard and feels bad when he screws up. But the screw-ups are mounting too quickly for the coaching staff to ignore anymore. I was watching the game at the bar yesterday, so I was distracted a little more than I wanted to be. But he missed an easy tackle on former walk-on Blair White that led to a 61-yard TD pass. He was also the one targeted on the long pass down the left sideline (to Mark Dell, if I remember correctly) where he was in position but just failed to find the ball and make a play. Brown isn't completely useless, since he did make a sack and force a fumble. However, his shortcomings are too significant. I don't care who they put in there. Normally, I'd say Michael Williams, but Williams got a concussion in yesterday's game. Charles Stewart. Move Morgan Trent to free safety and plug in Cissoko at corner (Trent was benched for stretches, anyway). Artis Chambers. Insert Mouton at SS and move Harrison to FS. Hell, burn JT Floyd's redshirt and plug him in there. Something. Anything. But if Brown isn't going to improve (and at this point in his career, I have a hard time picturing significant improvement), the coaches need to start grooming someone to take over the position. The offense will improve in 2009 with every significant player returning. But the defense will have a maximum of two seniors in 2009, and both of those guys are defensive ends (Brandon Graham, if he doesn't declare for the NFL, and Adam Patterson). On such an inexperienced defense, we can't afford to have such horrible safety play. Get a youngster some experience now.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB