Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
Since Brian has been busy providing us with real content rather than trying to emulate the MSM and putting together an obligatory midseason report on (insert team here), I decided to fill that oh-so-important void.
But to make it a little more interesting and gauge the opinion of my fellow readers, I've made this one interactive; I'm looking for responses/votes rather than just throwing out my own opinions, as brilliant (or stupid) as they may be.
So here we go:
No need to waste time here.
Gotta be Mike Martin, right? I don't think there's much dispute about this one -- just look at the UFRs to get a quantifiable estimate of his value. And it's not like our defense is filled with all-Big Ten difference-makers.
(For the rest of these, I want votes. Maybe I can compile after a couple days and put up a new post that presents some imaginary MGoBloggies.)
1. Denard's 87-yard TD run against Notre Dame
2. Roundtree's third-down catch to set up the winning score against ND
3. Denard's game-winning TD run against ND
4. Hemingway's awesome catch to set up the winning TD against Indiana
5. Denard's game-winning TD run against Indiana
6. Denard's 43-yard touchdown run against Bowling Green
Clutch-est play (yes, I'm making "clutchest" a word for lack of an alternative)
1. Jordan Kovacs forcing a UMass fumble that turned what could have been a 10-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead in a game we won by seven.
2. Denard's third-down pass to Roundtree against ND to set up the game-winning TD
3. Hemingway's leaping catch to set up the game-winning score against Indiana
4. The defense forcing three straight stops in the fourth quarter against Indiana (not really a play, per se, but still worth considering)
5. Jonas Mouton's interception on the flea-flicker against Notre Dame, which (IMO) destroyed their offensive confidence and playcalling until Crist re-entered the game.
6. JT Floyd forcing a UConn fumble near the Michigan goal line that was recovered by Obi Ezeh. Instead of UConn being down only a touchdown, we went down and scored to effectively end the game.
Best freshman (redshirt or otherwise)
IMO, this one comes down to two players: Taylor Lewan and Cameron Gordon. Lewan has been pretty dominant since taking over at left tackle, while Gordon has had two games with a handful of epic busts (Notre Dame and you know who) and a bunch of other pretty good games featuring big hits, a crucial interception against Indiana and a lot of good run support. Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson also warrant consideration. Right now, I give the edge to Lewan.
What say you?
1. Jordan Kovacs had the aforementioned forced fumble (and the recovery!) against UMass and -- for everything he lacks athletically -- seems to be in the right place a lot more than just about anybody else on defense, even the seniors.
2. How about Junior Hemingway? Had the huge catch against Indiana and has made numerous other big plays -- he's averaging almost 30 yards a catch. But I rarely hear him mentioned along with Roundtree, Stonum and Odoms.
3. Steve Schilling. Molk get a lot of deserved attention and the young guys (Omameh and Lewan) get a lot of deserved hype, but Schilling has quietly turned into an excellent guard. On plays when we don't let someone in clean (like the crappy third-and-1 plays against UMass and MSU), the left side of our line is flat-out dominant.
4. JT Floyd. I was extremely skeptical that he'd be even a competent Big Ten corner after what we saw last year, but he's made huge strides and looks like a legitimate starter going forward.
1. Vincent Smith. I'm with Brian on this one -- there's nothing wrong with Vincent Smith and he does plenty of things well (receiving and blocking, specifically), but defenses aren't respecting him right now because he's clearly lost some burst. He doesn't pose the same threat Shaw does in the running game.
2. Craig Roh. This is at least partially (and probably in large part) due to his lack of pass-rushing opportunities, but me and a lot of other people expected him to take THE LEAP this year, and that obviously hasn't happened. Hopefully he gets more opportunties to put his hand down over the next six games.
3. James Rogers? I'm not sure if it's fair to call him a disappointment or not -- expectations were fairly low to begin with -- but I held out hope that our secondary would be something resembling functional, and he's probably the biggest reason that it has instead been a nuclear crater.
4. Obi Ezeh. No explanation needed.
5. Will Campbell. I wasn't expecting a huge jump this year, especially when we found out Martin would be starting at nose tackle, but man ... so much hype for a guy who's stuck behind Adam Patterson on the depth chart right now.
Brock Mealer touching the banner. I started to list some other stuff, but I don't think anything else compares.
Update: A couple additions based on comments: To "most disappointing" I've added Obi Ezeh (seems obvious in hindsight) and Will Campbell. To "clutch-est play" I've added the JT Floyd forced fumble against UConn. To "unsung hero" I've added JT Floyd.
Also, I considered a "worst moment," but I figured that'd basically just be a list of the most frustrating plays from the MSU game since we won all the others.
Update Part II: In hindsight, praising Lewan and Cam Gordon as best freshmen seemed to be a devastating jinx. I hate it when that happens.
Since everybody here at Mgoblog obviously needs a Denard Robinson wallpaper to fully demonstrate their Michigan fandom, I put together a few I thought you guys (and gals) might like. If there's one you think is totally awesome except you'd prefer a slight adjustment/addition/subtraction to what I have here, just let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Also, I realize that this post won't be very visually appealing, but I'm leaving the photos in ginormous form for your downloading pleasure.
Here are your options (so far):
I admit that I don't really have 200 words to meet the diary limit. I'm relying on this note from Brian at the bottom of the requirements section:
Something that requires effort you would like to keep around for posterity's sake should be a diary.
Trust me, I put plenty of work into this. I can't take any more of the emo posts about Beilein and RichRod and the NCAA investigation and "How many games does RR need to win to keep his job" and so on and so forth. We need something more WOO FOOTBALL and less WHY DOES LIFE HATE US?!?
With spring practice ready to start, hopefully this gives everybody a few warm fuzzies and gets you excited again about what we can be. I present to you "Sometimes When You're On: 2010" (and yes, this is the only appropriate song at this point for a Michigan football highlight video):
The resolution option isn't showing up for me yet, but it should be available in HD. Enjoy. Be happy. Go Blue.
To steal a fellow Mgoblogger's signature (sorry, I can't remember whose it is):
"When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing!" - Bo Schembechler.
I also work with an excellent columnist who I believe does his research and asks all the questions as thoroughly as anyone I've ever known. He is very good at what he does (this obviously rules out the Detroit papers).
I'm not a columnist or an investigative reporter, but I can honestly say that for the sake of journalism in general, stories like the one in the Free Press are incredibly frustrating. When I can look at the story and immediately say, "they're jumping to an incorrect conclusion about time spent, because some of this -- like meals -- obviously isn't mandatory," there's a problem with the reporting or the editing (or both).
I just don't understand how an educated reporter could look at that and not even attempt to figure out the breakdown of "required" and "voluntary" activities. Just because I often spent 12 hours on the Michigan campus on weekdays does not mean that I had 60 credit hours per semester, and that's basically what Rosenberg and Snyder are saying when they total up the hours and say that the players all spent "two to three times more than the NCAA allowed" on required activities.
The same holds true with the comments about "mandatory" workouts resulting in punishment. This could be the key to the investigation here if they would only ask the question, "What was the punishment?" If players were forced to come in for extra lifting or run stadium steps, that would be meaningful information.
But like Brian said, it would appear that they didn't ask these questions -- if they did, they simply left out the details and explanations because it didn't fit their version of the story, which is even worse (and obviously unethical).
I just wish more people were aware of research like what's been done here by Brian and the mgoboarder who dug into the NCAA rulebook (sorry, I don't remember the name).
I truly believe that most journalists do their best to report the facts and stay unbiased, but that doesn't always mean a whole lot by the time the story is written and gets to the general public. It's unfortunate that for most people, the news they receive (either from TV or a trimmed-down story in the paper) is often a very one-sided or poorly reported version of it.
* As for the bankruptcy issue, I don't know what it holds for my paper, only that I really, really hope I still have a job at the end of the week. I have a wife and two kids to support, and while there are other things I could do (PR, etc.), I at least feel some satisfaction in trying to accurately report things the best I can rather than spin them in favor of the all-powerful corporation holding a paycheck over my head.
I was going to post this as a comment on another thread, but it got long enough that I decide to separate it into its own entry.
I've heard quite a bit of criticism about our playcalling against Illinois, and I think some of it is warranted - on the surface. But I think there's something that most people aren't thinking about.
As Michigan fans, we are used to competing for Big 10 titles on an annual basis. It has been a long, long time since our team was in analysis mode. What I mean by that is that this year, it's not about competing for the conference. That's a nice goal, sure, but the true aim of the coaching staff should be implementing the system that they believe will make us the most successful, and with as many freshmen as we have, that's going to take A LOT of teaching.
But back to the playcalling topic ...
Are the coaches being stubborn and running a lot of plays that probably aren't going to be successful? Sure, I don't think most of us will argue that.
But I think RR has made it more than clear that no matter how ugly it is, he's throwing us full-bore into the spread offense. He's not going to half-ass it this year and run a tiny section of the playbook, or a simplified version, in an attempt to go 8-4 instead of 6-6. We're going balls to the wall - he's finding out who can do what, what works and what doesn't, and he's not going to ignore the possibility of doing something just because it doesn't seem to fit our personnel.
I think RR knows that realistically, Threet isn't going to be successful as an option QB. So why are we seeing option pitches from him to McGuffie (two of which have resulted in fumbles)? Simple: He's finding out if Threet can prove him wrong. You might as well see if a player can do something before you dismiss it out of hand. He's already proven more effective as a runner than any of would have expected, and if RR believes that those plays are going to help the offense reach its maximum effectiveness (and obviously he does), he MUST find out if Threet can run it. Why is Shaw in as a lead blocker? Why is Moundros flaring out into the flat as a receiver? These are things that these guys have never been asked to do, at least not at the college level. Putting them in that situation isn't likely to result in anything positive - not right now, anyway. But what's the worst that can happen on that option play? We fumble, the other team recovers, and maybe it costs us a touchdown. The flipside? What if Threet shocks us all and runs the option beautifully? We've suddenly added an entirely new dimension to the offense, not just for the rest of this season, but possibly for the next four years. Again, as a coach, you find out if those guys can make those plays, because if they CAN ... well, then you're starting to figure out how to make your offense the best it can be.
If there's one thing that RR's track record demonstrates, it's that his transitions are ugly but ultimately successful. Go back and look at his first year at each school. Then look at the years right after.
Glenville College: 1-7-1 the first year, 5-5 the next, national title the fourth year. As OC at Tulane: 7-4 the first year, 12-0 the second. As OC at Clemson: 6-6 the first year, 9-3 the second. At West Virginia: 3-8 the first year, 9-4 the second, Sugar Bowl in his fourth year. There will be adjustments, but the coaches have to figure out what they have - and what those guy can do - and that takes TIME.
I'm not saying that I won't question anything we're doing strategy-wise. Like I said, there are clearly some things that have raised eyebrows, mine included. But you have to realize that each playcall, each substitution, etc., is not done in a vacuum where the only thing that matters is end result of that play, or winning that game - which is what most of us have become accustomed to. RR is thinking long-term, and there are going to be some very ugly situations and questionable (on the surface) decisions that are done with a lot more in mind than the average fan realizes.
I'm curious as to what other people think about Ohio State plummeting about 10 spots in the polls this week - and completely out of some of the blogpoll ballots.
Frankly, I think a large majority of people expected USC to win pretty handily - especially considering that OSU was playing without Beanie Wells. That said, I still feel like Ohio State is easily the best all-around team in the Big 10 (although Penn State might give them a run). And the way the Trojans' offense looked in that game, I think they would have beaten almost anyone in the country pretty badly, especially at the Coliseum.
Personally, I would still have OSU ranked in the 5-10 range. I would have to drop them behind Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, etc., but I just can't justify having Wisconsin, East Carolina and others ahead of the Buckeyes.
The only argument that could be made at this point is that if Chris Wells is unable to play - or far less than 100% - for a majority of the season, their offense could definitely have some issues.
This might be more of an argument about the polls in general - basically, if you lose to a team you're expected to lose to that everyone now agrees is the CLEAR No. 1, I don't see how that suddenly makes you a much worse team.