"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
OK, bye-week boredom, coupled with the disintegration of my long-shot fantsay QB, Jay Cutler, have left me seeking more attention-consuming (and enjoyable) pursuits.
I decided to see what an All-Michigan team would look like in the fantasy world. After scouring for my skill position guys, I felt like I was neglecting too many solid defensive former Wolverines, since "UM Def/Sp Teams" is not a choice in the NFL. I decided to expand my fantasy team out to a full starting lineup. Here's my version (current players only):
Offense: We're rolling sans TE, partly b/c there isn't one currently playing - can you believe it? - and partly in honor us being a "spread team" now. We will go with an Ace package in the backfield, and 4 WR's (OK, OK, more of a passing spread).
Defense: We're running the 3-4. Also, we're going man in the secondary with 3 DB's and only one safety (Woodson doesn't need one over him).
DT Branch or Watson (my only toss-up)
DE Hall (James - only name I thought might not be remembered)
LB D Jones
CB Hall (Leon)
Special Teams: Of coarse we rule earth (and space) in this category...
After putting this together, I started to think that this would actually be a pretty damn good team (so long as depth weren't an issue - man, is that sounding familiar). We just may be a favorite to win an All-Alumni Bowl. Admittedly, I haven't put together the same deal for any other teams (yet), but I challenge someone to throw one together. If you're interested, ESPN can sort by college.
Alright, so 1) I'm no Mathlete and 2) This may mean squat come Saturday, but here goes...
We've all been preached to about how our mighty Dilithium powered offense hasn't faced any REAL tests yet, with the inference that MSU will somehow be our first real litmus test. In particular, our first challenging RUN defense faced.
I've also read a few casual at best mentions, acknowledging that our past opponents defensive rankings may be slightly inflated for having played against said dilithium power. Nowhere though, have I seen anything that quantifies this effect, hence my attempt.
Looking at Notre Dame and UConn (chosen because they've played the toughest schedules of our ooponents to date), I factored out the numbers that UM hung on them, both in terms of total defensive yardage allowed, and rushing yardage allowed:
Notre Dame moves from per game avgs of 401 total yards, 153 rush yards down to 368 total, 119 rush.
UConn moves from per game avgs of 338 total yards, 162 rush yards down to 304 total, 130 rush.
For comparisons sake, MSU is currently at per game defensive avgs of 328 total yards, 101 rush yards. While it would appear that MSU does indeed have a better "D" (and specifically, RUN D) than we've seen thus far, I'd argue that their own numbers have been skewed.
Two of their opponents rely heavily on the passing game: Florida Atlantic's offensive total yards to date have been 922 pass yds to 291 rush yrds (45 yds vs MSU). Western Michigan's offensive totals to date have been 1100 pass yds to 307 rush yds (85 yds vs MSU).
In my opinion, we're going to run all over Sparty, Greg Jones or not. MSU will get their points, but I I'm not worried at all about us, I think they're a pretender.
... told me, "If you don't have anything nice to say"... but DAMN, my head is going to explode. (I'd have liked to use the "head asplode" as I generally find it humorous, but nothing is humorous anymore.)
Don't mistake my intent: I am the eternal optimist, think RR will produce a quality team here in the next few years, am excited about our recruiting, think success will be sweeter for having to suffer for it first, etc.
I'm also fine with believing we should stay the coarse with the new schemes, to get experience, work on execution, etc. I am not one of those calling for a return to Carr-esque pro-style offense/defense and am actually glad our coach isn't afraid to be accused of "adapting too slowly" just to appease the media/fans.
But for God's sake, some things just need to change:
Special teams coach needs to go, period. I'm sorry but it's been downright embarassing, plainly inept, and unexcusable. Somewhere along the way we should have realized that we needed to identify a non-starter returner who could devote time exclusively to special teams in practice.
The biggest concern I have with RR is how he's handled the QB situation. How on Earth could he have picked Sheridan this week? Injury forced his hand last week, but in a system struggling this badly, consistency is a HUGE factor. It was a no-brainer to go back to Threet. Even if still dinged up(seems unlikely since he came in), he's played dinged most of the year. Even with Threet's lack of perfection, he was finding a way to produce small gains each week, while allowing us to run some semblence of our future offense. Sheridan has made major steps backwards away from any progress that was being made. It concerns me going into next year, where once again, we'll have a QB "situation". I am convinced both Beaver and Forcier will play next year, and I'm now worried about us getting in the way of ourselves as far as development of the offense goes with untimely QB moves.
Lastly, can we please stop running laterally so much????? I am sick to death of the play where RB lines up next to QB - takes the underneath handoff crossing in front of QB and runs to the sideline looking for a hole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Again, I don't want to go back to Carr-ball but for crying out load, HIT A HOLE UP THE MIDDLE ONCE IN A WHILE. In the coarse of the year we have to have realized that our O-line (even with some improvement) cannot hold up long enough to allow such a play to develop. The spread could make use of some options, or even tosses where our "speedy buggers" might have a chance. It just seems that all year we've run our Shaw/Mcguffie types between the tackles and our Minor/Brown types off the edge.
Maybe the unprecendented 8 loses is pushing me over... However, I have to be honest, I've got concerns in starting to look back at the "season" that have nothing to do with mis-matched personnel (which I've been drinking the Kool-aid of all year). I almost hope that after a successful next year, RR admits that the coaching staff just started phoning it in the end of this season to keep teams from seeing future schemes.
Please tell me it'll be okay.
I believe this game will be closer than the Illinois game. I give us a 25% chance to win, a 50% chance to prove me right, and a 25% chance it turns out that I've unknowingly been smoking one of Mario's old blunts.
We have owned PSU. I've had a decade of sheer enjoyment watching the hopes of a PSU family member rekindle each year, only to be extinguished by consistently superior Michigan teams. What started out as "Wait till next year, we're going to be better and beat you", soon turned to "Look, just don't give me a bunch of crap about it, you're probably going to beat us again b/c we're not very good this year." It has been wonderful. Granted, this is probably the year that the dominance ends; but those thoughts, entrenched by the depths of time, will be in the backs of both UM's and PSU's minds. If it's close for a while, deja vu will play a role.
Also, despite the opportunity to exact revenge for years worth of beat-downs, I think they'll be looking past us. They have NC hopes that go through tOSU next week. We, needless to say, just want to beat whoever's in front of us.
I believe (seem to be fewer of those daily) that our team will improve as this season goes on. It continues to amaze me that there are so many calls for change already. It's as though we're wondering why an 80 year old guy who had double knee replacements 3 days ago isn't ready for the Boston Marathon yet. We ARE NOT EXECUTING the basics with regularity yet offensively. Personally, I think we have gotten a little better each week, despite continually having multiple O-line adjustments, different WR/slot groups due to injury/suspension/illness, different attempts at finding a "change of pace" back who won't fumble, switching QBs etc. I completely discount the Toledo game - my diary - my perogative - due to a "perfect storm" of the above reasons (as well as key D personnel being out too).
Defensively, Illinois lit us up by executing the spread as well as anyone could the week they played us. I challenge PSU to even match it. Obviously we need to give up fewer big plays, and play better assignment football. I think we will see that our coaches CAN actually make adjustments, and that the D (hopefully healthy too) will look much better on this "re-do" against PSU's spread.
It's crazy to think that new coaches, with new players, new systems and "inadequate" (for said systems) personnel can completely adjust over the coarse of a timeout, halftime talk, even one week-long practice. That's why they call it "rebuilding", not "pre-fabbed homing". Give it time; and here, in the beginning, while it's roughest, set yourself some resonable expectations.
I still say we have a shot. I guess you can call me a fan. Guilty.
On the blue/maize Prozac: UM wins 27-24;
Marios's blunt: UM loses 38-24.