chance of bowl: 13.6%
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at email@example.com or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the F riday Night Lights series.
(Five) Star Search!
The Gainesville Sun's Ed Aschoff gives the latest on a few prospects of mutual interest for the Wolverines and Gators. First, FL DT Tim Jernigan (at right):
Michigan, FSU, LSU and Alabama are all ahead of Florida... For now, the chances of him ending up at Florida seem to be slipping away more and more. This could all change if Florida turns around its season, so this one is not over.
...and also FL WR Sammy Watkins (recent Army All-American Bowl selection):
His favorites remain Clemson, Michigan and Miami. I think Clemson has the advantage in this one.
Both are mostly maintaining the status quo from the past couple weeks. Grant Redhead, high school coach of FL CB Dallas Crawford and Watkins, tells Tom that Michigan has a solid lead for Crawford, and that Michigan's finish to the season may have an impact on Watkins's feelings on the maize and blue. The two will set up their official to Ann Arbor soon (both of their previous visits have been unofficials). Jernigan was officially selected to the Army All-American Bowl. At his press conference, Jernigan talked a bit of recruiting:
"I grew up watching all of them," Jernigan said. "They kind of present some unique situations as far as depth-wise and great academic schools, especially Michigan, great academic school. Those are the things that really stood out to me... It is nice up there. I got time to hang out with Coach Rod and I got a chance to hang out with Denard and got to meet some of the guys around the program. Real good people, my type of people, small town guys."
That sounds downright glowing about Ann Arbor, but there are a few visits left before Timmy makes up his mind.
Rivals has rehashed their Top 100, and FL RB Commit Demetrius Hart has moved up to #17, the top 4-star on their list. Given his stats against some of the best competition in the country, there's nothing dude can do to get 5-star status except grow.
DC RB Malcolm Crockett visited Michigan for the Illinois game, as his coach tells Tom. He projects to either side of the ball at the next level, but Michigan is looking at him as a downhill-type runner and complement to Demetrius Hart. Crockett is a teammate of 2012 DC DT Eddie Goldman, whom Scout has already pegged as a 5-star for next year.
NJ TE Jack Tabb plans to visit Michigan for the Wisconsin game in a couple weeks as long as his high school playoff schedule doesn't interfere.
IL OL Chris Bryant has been out with a knee injury this season, but was expected to return to the lineup last weekend. He'll visit both Arizona and Michigan (Big Chill) early in December ($, info in header). A bit more on his junior teammate Robert Gregory below.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi is regularly hearing from Rich Rodriguez. Last week, Tom told us he's planning to set up an official to Ann Arbor.
LA DT Mickey Johnson is still considering a visit to Michigan ($, info in header).
PA DE Deion Barnes will take all 5 of his official visits, even if he falls in love with one of the schools he sees early. He looks at former teammate Je'Ron Stokes (now a Michigan sophomore) as one of his inspirations, a positive sign for the Wolverines.
With his senior season over, MI LB Desmond Morgan will now focus on recruiting ($, info in header). He tells Tom that he may officially visit Michigan for the Big Chill hockey game, and with no inside information, I wouldn't be surprised if he made a decision around that time.
Michigan has "turned up the heat" ($, info in header) on MD CB Blake Countess. According to Tom, that "heat" comes in the form of an official offer. Mike Farrell of Rivals said last week that the Wolverines may lead for Countess, a consensus 4-star prospect. Countess is setting up a visit with Michigan's coaches, possibly for The Big Chill.
MI WR DeAnthony Arnett was the infamous "mystery visitor" to Ann Arbor last weekend, and he seemed to enjoy the wide-open passing game ($, info in header). Coming off the heels of his trip to Michigan, he'll be making a decision tonight... but had some fun throwing fans for a loop last night.
Arnett has consistently stated that he's a Michigan fan, but that he had worries about not getting the ball in the Wolverines' offense. With that fear out of the way, Michigan may be a factor in his decision, but conventional wisdom has him picking Tennessee.
Happy Trails, MD Ath Darius Jennings, who has narrowed his list to 6 non-Michigan schools.
...In Walkon News
MI FB/LB Joey Kerridge "has future plans set" ($, info in header). His Scout profile now lists high interest in Michigan and no offers, so we can safely assume he plans to be a preferred walkon at Michigan.
FL QB Bennie Coney (at right), who holds a Michigan offer but was dismissed from his high school team, talks to a couple publications about his future. He say's he'll return to Plant City for his senior season, and has nothing but good things to say about his high school coach, and vice versa:
“Me and my coach, we’re good,” Coney said. “My coach is cool. We talk every day. We’ve still got our relationship...”
His coach has been in contact with college coaches to explain what happened and it’s doubtful that even a school like Notre Dame would view the incident as an infraction that would cause them to drop Coney from its radar. Coney is still interested in the Irish and, although they haven’t offered, they lead along with Florida State.
Since his coach is willing to vouch for him to college coaches, there's a chance Michigan may still be interested.
Mike Dyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Michigan is recruiting OH WR Dewayne Stanford.
OH OL Ryan Anderson visited Michigan a few weeks back ($, info in header).
In visit mini-news, I saw MI DT Dan O'Brien in the house with his dad at Friday's basketball exhibition against Saginaw Valley. His older brother, Patrick, hoops it up for the Cardinals.
OH LB Mason Monheim has visited Michigan already this fall, and is getting interest from a number of other Big Ten schools, including future member Nebraska. Orrville's defensive coordinator, Jason Haley, talks a bit about his game:
"Mason's right there with any we've had," Haley said. "He just has a knack for reading keys, and then getting from Point A to Point B. A lot of it is instincts, and watching film. He gets his read, then gets to the ball and makes plays... Across the board in college, you're not seeing that 6-3, 245-pound linebacker as often -- they're all looking for that hybrid guy who can run. Mason fits that mold."
At 6-1 210, Monheim could be a future bandit/spur type, or a guy who grows into a full-size linebacker.
Michigan is showing interest in NJ LB Jazzmar Clax, a lock for the all-name first team whether he ends up in Ann Arbor or not.
Earlier in the year Chris Brown of Smart Football offered up some clarification of a route package Michigan's running, and now I'm spotting it in key situations so I might as well Picture Page it. This will please people who complain about the relentlessly negative PPs in past weeks that are all about explaining why Michigan gave up a touchdown.
It's third and four from the 29 on Michigan's second drive of the day. Michigan comes out in a standard formation:
Smith, Hemingway, and tight end Kevin Koger are going to run a snag concept. This consists of three parts:
- The #1 (outside) receiver runs a slant and then sits down about five yards downfield.
- The #2 receiver, in this case the TE, runs a corner route.
- The tailback runs a flare.
This is what it looks like on a diagram. It's on the right:
Chris Brown on the point of this package:
The snag is a variant of the smash, where one point is to get a high-low with the corner route and the flat route (except now the flat is controlled by the runningback), with the added dimension of an outside receiver running the “snag” route — a one-step slant where he settles inside at 5-6 yards. This gives you a “triangle” stretch, where you have both a high/low read (corner to RB in the flat) and a horizontal read from inside to outside (snag route to the RB in the flat).
In previous games when Michigan's run this the opponent was in three deep and the read was simply reading the playside linebacker: throw it where he's not. Here Illinois runs what looks like a combo coverage. Just after the snap:
Illinois has a hard corner to the bottom of the screen and a soft one to the top. Robinson's reading the snag package all the way. Here he's starting at the playside LB, who's figuring out what to do with Koger.
It turns out he goes with Koger:
The hard corner is taking away the flare and this linebacker is turning his hips, so the snag route itself (Hemingway's) will come open. Denard should probably be throwing the ball now.
He should definitely be throwing the ball now.
THROW THE BALL AAAIAIGH
Hemingway's about a half yard short of the first down and is fortunate that Martez Wilson read the route package about as fast as Denard did. He's still two steps away from Hemingway, allowing Hemingway to take that orbit step wide receivers to do evade overpursuing tacklers…
…which gets him past the sticks for a first down.
Maybe Michigan's passing game isn't as unsophisticated as the spread n shred used to be? This is a favored package around the NCAA right now, which is why Smart Football could bring it to my attention—he'd seen it in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, despite having a quarterback who's going to break the all-time rushing record for his position and possibly Tim Biakabutuka's Michigan rushing record, this is not the West Virginia offense. Disclaimers about Tate cameos and catchup ball apply, but Michigan's running 61% of the time this year. That's not far off from Carr's last three years, which were 56% rush (2007), 61% (2006), and 55% (2005) and it's a far cry from Rodriguez's Pat White offenses that ran 75% of the time.
Despite missing a game and a half, Denard already has more attempts than White did as a sophomore and needs just 22 attempts per game to match White's 274 attempts as a senior (which wasn't even an RR offense anymore). Michigan's 14th in passer efficiency, which says a lot more when you're throwing it around at a semi-normal rate.
- But maybe so, or maybe not. Previously in this series we've broken down the curl/flat combo (twice) and frequently mentioned the snag. Here Illinois runs a combo coverage that blankets the curl/flat to the top of the screen and probably should do the same to the snag but for Wilson's tardiness. They're prepared for this play. On the other hand, they were completely unprepared for the all-hitch routes that Roundtree kept dropping, and Michigan got their bomb on. So maybe nevermind.
- The game is still slowing down for Denard. This is the euphemistic way to say "he's not reading defenses fast enough yet." (For a given definition of "enough," anyway. He's 11th in passer efficiency.) He's late here and I think he was late a couple other times. It's hard to tell whether certain balls are inaccurate or thrown in the right zone window, but thrown too late. I think the fourth and nine Roundtree touchdown may be an example of this. He couldn't hit Roundtree in the numbers because of the safety coming over and forced a moderately difficult catch out of him.
- Great protection. This happened all day. Robinson sat back there like John Navarre, most prominently on the second(!) 75-yard completion to Roundtree where Michigan slid the line and he re-enacted his throw to Roundtree from the spring game except without the guy coming into his face.
- Maybe this is why he never scrambles? He seems uncertain about his reads still so he sits in the pocket wondering if he's missing something when he should just run, Forrest, run. For a guy with his ability on the ground he's got a weird antipathy for taking off. I've got him for four scrambles on the year.
Profiling, again. The Daily continues its streak of crushing everyone out there with Michigan football profiles, this time hitting up Deerfield Beach for the Denard Robinson story. Cue adorable child who doesn't like you stealing her soul:
Also let's not forget that making Shoelace, Denard Robinson, for uh, shirt, you know, within the NCAA—that isn't legal.
The story itself is another epic five-pager. Sounds like he was a natural:
“He loved to run that ball,” Huggins says, looking over his old stomping grounds at Westside Park. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, call quarterback sneak!’ I’d tell him no, to hand it off, and so he’d fake the handoff and keep it and run for a ton of yards.”
Zone read from the start. This is a read the whole thing situation.
From "it won't work in the Big Ten" to this. Illinois blog Hail to the Orange (wait… what?) on Saturday:
The difference is, and the major problem on Saturday, was that with Michigan when we bit, we paid dearly, every time. It seemed as though just one missed tackle, one bad angle and the punishment was a touchdown. We were running a contain game most of the day against Denard, and we paid because there was relatively little pressure against him, giving his receivers too much time to get open, and when combined with a play action always were open. The result: 305 PASSING yards from the Nard dog.
There were of course some bright spots. We have continued the trend of taking the ball away from the other team and not giving it back. (Five TO's recovered, to one lost.) Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win.
We will not see another team this offensively talented this season (pending a bowl bid) generally we can improve our decision making in the secondary enough to not give up constant 75 yard bombs, at least I hope not.
Here's the crazy thing: that first bit on "paid dearly, every time" isn't even true. You know that interception Denard zinged over Webb's head? That's either a touchdown or Webb gets run down from behind as Michigan switched up the QB Lead Oh Noes from the slot receiver to the TE. The safety who intercepted the ball was headed for Roundtree and dead meat until the ball went ZING. I've got two separate RPS+3 plays that end in disaster for Michigan already. If anything, Michigan's immolation of the Illinois defense is even more impressive on review because it could have been considerably worse if Denard makes a few better throws. I think we've established that Denard's not going to make great throws all the time, but man… in the UFR Michigan's going to have a huge RPS number.
The whole thing's driven Vic Koennig to despondency:
"They get you in a run, run, run mode then they drop back and hit a pass on you. They had us running around and not doing anything well."
Fair? No. Accurate? Yes. User Tom Pickle with the win.
Sorry about nearly killing you. That guy who got plowed on the sideline during Tate's double personal foul keeper in overtime was actually Channel 7's Don Shane. The two shared a heartwarming moment afterwards:
He's got the flags to prove it, Don.
More advanced metricing. Michigan's moved up to #3 nationally in FO's S&P ratings… on offense. They're just behind Auburn and Boise State, #1 on "standard downs" and #6 on pass downs. Ohio State(!) is a surprising #5, and then the next Big Ten team is #17 Wisconsin. Michigan is #98 on defense. Woo.
I also asked Brian Fremeau for Michigan's kickoff numbers to see if that aspect of the game is actually hurting them much. I asked him last week and never got around to posting them, so these are a little out of date. In an effort to reduce confusion I'm going to flip signs so negative is always bad and positive is good. The units here are in average points away from expectation.
Kickoffs: –0.054 (79th)
Kick Return: –0.099 (95th)
Punts: +0.101 (13th)
Punt return: –0.023 (77th)
What this means is for every ten Michigan punts Michigan has saved a point in expected field position; for every ten kick returns they've lost a point in expected field position. So.
- Points on kickoffs (58): -3.1
- Points on kick returns (56): -5.5
- Points on punts (30): +3.0
- Points on punt returns(40): –0.9
Grand total: around –6.5 pending how Michigan's performance against Illinois changes the numbers (I'm guessing it doesn't change much since Michigan gave up some good returns but also busted the long one before the half).
Meanwhile, Michigan's no longer national-worst kickers (up to 117!) are –1.0 per FGA. They've attempted 11, so the field goal situation is almost twice as damaging as the rest of it. All told Michigan's losing about two points a game on special teams, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that flipping that stat would take Michigan's scoring margin from +5 to +9.
Belated Free Press denouement. I had football to talk about and didn't get around to this but a few bits and pieces to wrap up the jihad. A national take from Doc Sat:
The tepid infractions that came to light as a result of the Freep's digging are the minimum you'd expect to find at any sprawling program operating under a massive handbook, as the basic cost of employing fallible human beings while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile coach who almost immediately cleaved the fan base down the middle. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan that was forced to roll its eyes and slap itself on the wrist in halfhearted contrition as the "probation" label is applied for the first time in school history.
Chait drops Chaitbombs to the point where the fiancée thinks she should use this…
Here's the headline of one report: "RichRod gets win, but still needs more on field" Here's the headline of a second: "UM's violations deemed major, but not serious" And here's a third: "NCAA's verdict: Rodriguez ignored rules; U-M gets more probation"
Those headlines came from ESPN, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. You can probably guess which was which.
“We apologized yesterday because we made mistakes. I’m kinda waiting for somebody from the media to apologize for mistakes they made. And I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but that would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?”
And of course the guy who asked if Rodriguez would be fired and got a death glare was Drew Sharp. Brandon should have asked "when is the Free Press going to fire you?"
Etc.: Wisconsin's John Clay and starting center Peter Konz are "iffy" for this week's game against Indiana. Sounds like they should be good to go for Michigan but sprains can be weird. This Week In Schadenfreude does not feature Colorado because no Colorado fans care anymore. Anything can happen in dead coach walking situations and fans will just shrug and talk about who the next guy is going to be. Michigan State is 9-1 for the first time in a million years and they still can't sell out their game against Purdue without resorting to two-for-one deals.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
Game Of The Week:
OH OL Jack Miller and OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last Week: Miller's St. John's Jesuit defeated Brown's Fremont Ross 45-35. I was there, so enjoy some MGoBlog original video. You're watching #55 in blue (mostly early in the video) and #3 in white (mostly later in the video):
My apologies for less-than stellar filming at times, as I wasn't sure how to deal with filming guys on opposite teams. I managed to get most of the key plays, aside from a 35-yard reception from Brown.
I've seen Miller in person before, and my scouting report hasn't changed. On defense, he's a strong rusher off the edge. Ross used double- and even triple-teams in an attempt to slow him down, and usually ran their plays away from him. On offense, he's a vicious blocker who never seems satisfied unless his man is pancaked. His quickness in pass-blocking isn't the greatest, but Ross didn't have anyone who could make him pay for that (and he won't have to deal with it as much playing on the interior of the line in college). He could have an impact on either side of the ball in college, but he looks like a future David Molk(!), nasty streak and all.
Brown, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as impressive. He's a bit stocky, and played exclusively outside linebacker on defense for Fremont Ross. Even at a position closer to the ball, he rarely seemed to be in on any plays, despite having a chance on some of them. As a linebacker, he only covered tight ends from the slot in pass coverage, and did an adequate job staying with a guy half a foot taller than him. On offense, Brown was only in on every second or third play, partially because he was bringing in the plays from the coaching staff, but it seemed to me that it was also because he was expendable on a lot of offensive plays. His speed wasn't that impressive, and he was thoroughly outplayed on both sides of the ball by Cheatham Norrils of St. John's (#3 in blue), who scored three defensive touchdowns, including one on a pick-6 that went through Brown's hands. Brown did manage to get deep once or twice, but only came down with one of them, because Norrils was all over him. Brown also ran one play out of the Wildcat, and got decent yardage, but didn't blow anyone away with his athleticism.
There are also a few local media recaps of the game. I unofficially have Miller down for 2 tackles, 3 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hurries, and one holding penalty drawn. Brown had a 43-yard kickoff return, 4 receptions for 61 yards, 1 rush for 9 yards, a tackle, and a pass breakup.
This week: Ross's season is over with a 9-2 record. Miller and his 10-1 St. John's Titans will face Medina (upset winners over Canton McKinley) next week in Round 2 of the State Playoffs.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona was crushed by Winter Haven 0-42. Sousa's coach tells Tom that Kevin finished 9/14 passing for 128 yards, in addition to 5 rushes for 29 yards.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
|Lake Wales||L 6-42||14||21||66.67||199||9.48||0||1||13||64||4.92||1|
|Winter Haven||L 0-42||9||14||64.29||128||9.14||0||0||5||29||5.80||0|
This week: Lake Nona visits East River on Friday at 7:30 in their season finale.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Last Week: Hart entered the game 2 touchdowns shy of the all-time conference record. Game preview. Dr Phillips pasted Freedom 56-13. The Panthers clinched their district with the win, and set the Division's scoring record for a single season in the process:
The Panthers have scored 476 points, surpassing the Class 6A record of 473 held by Miami Northwestern. The Panthers (9-0, 5-0 in 6A-6) are within reach of the state regular-season record, of 526 points set by Jacksonville Trinity Christian in 1999.
DP needs "just" 50 points (3 below their season average) against West Orange to set the record. Dee rushed 23 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns, and notched a pair of receptions for 26 yards. Stats and image come from the Dr. Phillips Athletics website. Video:
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips hosts West Orange on Friday at 7:30.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Plant pasted Chamberlain 42-7, clinching the 5A-5 District championship.
Next week: Plant closes the regular season at Robinson on Friday.
OH DE Chris Rock
This week: DeSales's season ends at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
“We were ready,” Plymouth senior linebacker/tight end Brennen Beyer said. “We came out and we played physical, we played our butts off, it was great. And the fans are great ... we have a crazy student section. Our fans are great, they helped us pull this out.”
Beyer (five solo tackles on defense; three receptions for 34 yards on offense) said Plymouth’s second-ever playoff win (the Wildcats defeated Saline on Oct. 30) was “so much sweeter” than the first one.
PlymouthCantonSports.com has more detail on Beyer's day, a forced fumble (pictured at right).
This week: The 9-2 Wildcats will travel to Detroit Catholic Central on Saturday at 1.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Kellen was a beast. Had about 14 tackles by my count. 4 or 5 where he absolutely stuffed the A gap and stood up the tailback for no gain. He has great instincts and dropped into coverage and covered the flats really well. Almost blocked 2 field goals straight up. Took great angles and read the guards really well.
Jones tells Tom he notched 13 tackles (10 solo!), to go along with 3 QB hurries and 2 tackles for loss.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
|St. Thomas||W 28-10||11||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 37-13||9||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 49-7||8||1||1||1*|
|St. Thomas||W 33-28||13||2||0||0|
* Blocked punt.
This week: 9-1 St. Pius hosts San Antonio Antonian on Saturday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech beat Dearborn Fordson 32-13. No mention of Hollowel.
Next Week: The 11-0 Technicians host Macomb Dakota in the Regional Finals of the State Playoffs on Saturday at 1.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and 11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards. Seaholm's coach resigned following the final game.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
Happy to get to a bowl game, but the job isn't done. Every win from here on out is to improve bowl standing. "I think that's added motivation for us... We love our teammates, and our seniors mean a lot to us." Glad to send the seniors out with a bowl game.
Doesn't care where the bowl game is "as long as it's warm."
Hopefully the team can get wins in all three remaining games.
Denard is harder to understand in the huddle than Tate. You have to go by the signals, because otherwise you won't hear the right play.
"After those turnovers, we picked each other up, we didn't hang our heads." Molk was saying that they had a full 60 minutes to play - maybe not counting on the extra time. Have to keep spirits up after mistakes, because you can't go back and change that.
"When Roy first got here, he was an outside receiver with us." That summer, he put in the work to get bigger in offseason workouts. "He's still working hard, he was in the weight room today working extremely hard."
"I didn't know [about setting a record] until after the game when Dave [Ablauf, UM Associate Athletic Director] pulled me aside and said I had broke the single-game record." It amazed him that he had done so much. "In high school I had one, it was a playoff game that went into overtime and we won that. I think I had 15 catches for 2-something... It ain't nothing like playing here and breaking the record."
When he talked to his cousin yesterday, it sunk in that he had outdone a bunch of Michigan's historic wideouts.
Both quarterbacks are leaders of the offense, it doesn't matter which one is in. "I don't know man, we exploisove everywhere, we got threats everywhere at every position. If we play like we can play, I don't think nobody can stop us." Denard was still involved in the game despite injury. "He just told us that we gotta keep going." Even though he wasn't in, he wanted to give encouragement.
"I try to play everybody like it's my last." No special feelings for Purdue. "I think every time we play throughtout our season gonna talk smack to throw you off." The fast tempo offense doesn't give them a lot of chances to say anything. Committed to Purdue as a junior. Told RR "I don't think I'm going to West Virginia." Once he came to Ann Arbor, it opened Roy's eyes. "I think I made the right choice."
Came in weighing 152 pounds, now 178. In his first year on scout team "I'm like 'Man, they just killin' me.'" In the offseason, he hit the weights, made it his "best friend." Wants to get up to 185-190 "I'll get there man." Really embraced the offseason to get faster. "I'm willing to get faster."
"I just try to block out everything" once he's at study table or practice, he manages to get focused.
"Man, Junior is a great football player, man." Receivers just want to be the best once they hit the field.
On the #1 jersey: "I mean hey, I still gotta work for it... When it's time, it's time. Oh yeah, I want it."
Sense of relief after the last play. "It was exciting, and my heart topped a couple times, but we pulled it off." Good feeling to win in overtime. "It's a lot more emotions involved, and there's more at stake because you're invested so much already." Crossed his mind what it would have been like to be on the losing end. "Of course it's not something that would be pleasant."
Good emotional boost to win. Need to carry that forward into the coming weeks. It's good to clinch a bowl game, but they need to continue winning to earn spots in a better bowl. Everybody showed lots of emotion after the game because of the circumstances, not necessarily because it clinched a bowl.
Offense wants to continue clicking, and minimize the times when they aren't quite on the same page.
"Running on the field, I wasn't even sure Denard was out yet." Didn't notice until the huddle, when Tate gave the play. Easier to understand because Denard talks really fast.
Will Campbell "Big guy, he's a strong guy." He's making progress, learning the ropes on the offensive side of the ball. "He could be somebody that could help us down the road."
"We were aware that the investigations had wrapped up, and we didn't fully understand everything that was going on, but we were confident in our coaches... When things turned out in our favor, we were jut glad to hear it."
Ryan Van Bergen
Everybody excited for the sixth win "A lot of pressure off a lot of guys' shoulders." They're confident after a win, and are motivated going into next week. Ryan feels pressure lifted from his shoulders to be a team leader that got the team back to a bowl game.
On the final 2-point conversion, Michigan was running the same defense against the same offensive play that Illinois used to convert for 2 in the first quarter. They executed better and were able to get the win.
Defense played 100 plays, and they were exhausted "I literally had no more gas left in the tank." Were glad to end the game.
Defense can't be excited about giving up 65 points, but they played well off turnovers and from bad field position. "There's some things we definitely could have cleaned up, but I would say as a leader of the defense, we made some tremoundous strides last week."
Only two Big Ten wins is not acceptable to them, they need to keep going. More excited to play Purdue than he has been to play in a long time. Defense finally has a bit of swagger and attitude.
Purdue has good size on OL, but so has the rest of the Big Ten so far. "just excited about an opportunity, moreso to prove ourselves."
Defensive line improved with Roh on it. More pressure off the edges forced at least three holding calls. Didn't register many sacks, but were able to pressure Scheelhasse. "I really like when Mike [Martin]'s in the game." It opens up 1-on-1s because teams have to worry about handling him inside.
"It's early to speculate about the future" but the young guys that are getting experience now will be great in the future. "Next year, or two years from now, these freshmen, all of them are going to be veterans."
Forcing more TOs. "Disguising our coverages a little bit... getting around the football a little bit more." Now that they're making solid tackles, they need to get at the ball.
3rd downs: "We were highly motivated on third down. We talked about it all week. Something we were embarrassed about against Penn State." 3rd downs were the reason they didn't beat the Nittany Lions.
Ndamukong Suh's missed extra point: "I know I would have made that. There's no way I would have missed an extra point." Kicked in high school - long of 46. "If I got called upon, I would make an extra point for this team, for sure."
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Denard was suffering symptoms similar to a concussion, so they held him out Saturday. Trainers came to Rich and said Denard should be held out. He was tested yesterday and should be fine. Will be full-go this week. Might have been the helmet-to-helmet, not positive. Denard's arm "felt a whole lot better" against Illinois, the knee isn't 100%, but it's good. "I'm hoping he'll be feeling as good as he's felt in weeks this weekend."
Teric Jones has a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the season.
Mike Martin is better, Mouton is limited with a chest muscle issue. He might be held out of full-contact tomorrow. Not sure if Mouton will be available this weekend. "I'll know more tomorrow." He was able to play through it for part of the game, so it may not be that serious.
Will know today if Fitz Toussaint will be available this weekend.
Perry Dorrestein could have played against Illinois if they needed him. He's a lot better now than he was the past couple weeks.
JT Floyd had his surgery. Troy Woolfolk is out of his walking boot, working out upper body only. Mike Jones is good after his surgery. Tae Odoms "is fine after his surgery." Not sure if any of those guys will be able to go in spring practice, but they're doing well.
"I think Craig [Roh] - that move putting him at end is probably gonna stick." That's his better position, and he's more physically suited for it than he was last year with more bulk. "Playing him at end, especially at open-side end is better for him." JB Fitzgerald played pretty well in the same spot. "Obi's got some experience, Kevin Leach played a bit too." Mark Moundros should be in line for more playing time.
Illinois and Team
They rotate through the backs by feel. Vincent Smith is the most well-rounded, Michael Shaw has good burst, and Stephen Hopkins is the big guy. If a fourth guy steps up, they'd like to roll 4 backs in and out.
Roy Roundtree is a good athlete with great ball skills, and he's getting bigger. He has a good feel for getting open. "Roy's got kind of a natural feel for that." They saw that when he was in high school. #1 jersey - "I'm not touching no number things... Nobody's asking for it - it might be because they don't want to deal with all the drama either, I don't know." Roy likes #12, even if it's not a top seller in the stores.
Mark Huyge has done well in place of Perry. "We wouldn't hesitate at all to put Michael Schofield in there either. Michael Schofield can play too. He's just a redshirt freshman, but he's ready to play." Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury are also good young players on the OL.
Been good most of the year with not turning the ball over outside of a couple games, but they're disappointed in their inability to gain turnovers. "We're not quite creating turnovers, and we talked about that a lot with the defensive staff." Are they not in position to make plays, or not causing confusion for the opponent? There's no simple answer, but they're addressing it. Through the turnovers, the team managed to bounce back.
"The things that our guys kept doing was they kept competing." Didn't matter if they were down, up, after a turnover, etc. Young guys kept their poise, even though many of them should be redshirting in a perfect world. "There's a lot of growing lessons happening." There was no one particular thing that led to turnover problems. There was a great play by Illinois, poor ball security for Gallon, Tate coming off the bench cold, a couple missed reads. "It wasn't all just one thing."
In light of some of the inexperience the defense puts on the field (which really doesn't happen anywhere else), they competed well. Forced a few 3 and outs, 5 or 6 stops. The offense put the D in a couple bad spots with turnovers, and they responded well.
"Illinois is one of the most athletic teams in the league, and we frankly have to get more athletic." That comes through development - size too. Have to address it in recruiting as well. "Recruiting is going well, and our strength staff I think is the best in the country."
Not sure why the wheel routes were open - not same RB, not same coverage. "To be open is one thing, to be that wide open is another thing." A couple guys just made mistakes in coverage. "I would expect we'll probably see a play similar to that in every game going forward (laughs), so we'll be working on it quite a bit."
"I thought we tackled OK. we didn't tackle great." Didn't get off blocks well, especially on the perimeter on options. Part of that is Illinois's ability.
Not worried about offensive swagger "but our defense needed some." A defensive play won the game at the end, which will hopefully give them confidence going forward.
On the final 2-point conversion, Illinois was running a rub route, Michigan was bringing 7 rushers. "They got us rubbed off pretty good, but the pressure got to him first."
If you had veteran corners, you can blitz more. Michigan doesn't have that, so they have to be careful and pick their moments. "Nobody wants to sit there and die a slow death." Working a lot on mixing up defensive looks so opponent won't know coverage pre-snap.
"I'm the hardest one on our defensive coaches, because I think there's a certain standard we should be playing at." Playing this many freshmen and young guys is probably unprecedented. "It was a perfect storm of injuries and misfortune that got us here."
Quinton Washington played goal line and short yardage D. "I think that move may stay." Not sure how long it will take until he's ready to play in base defense. "Hopefully he'll get a little closer this week with that."
Kenny Demens - "He was really pretty consistent in the game Saturday. This was one of his better games." He was in the right spot and made some big tackles. He's not really experienced, but this is his first extended playing time.
Ray Vinopal is a young guy, so will make some mistakes. He was well-coached in high school, and is a smart football player. "We make all of our own judgments on our guys. These recruiting sites really do a pretty good job for the most part rating them, but we don't ever make our judgments based on what a recruiting site rates them."
Courtney Avery - "They got the one touchdown on him, and he wasn't that far out of position." He was nervous, but didn't show it. "I think he'll be able to grow from that, and I'm really excited about him." Getting quality experience will add depth when Troy and JT return too.
Worry about opponents' athleticism for kickoff coverage. "We had been pretty solid all year covering kicks, but we let a couple get out of there Saturday."
When there's not dropoff between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams, you'll be a good football team because you can handle injuries. "We're there at some positions this year, but most positions we're not." QB, RB, and OL to a degree. "Nowhere on defense are we there."
Winning an exciting game is maybe even more important than getting the 6th win from an emotion level in the post-game celebration. "The guys have been through a lot, they have been. That's why I've been so proud of the focus that they've kept." Even when they've faced adversity, they know that have to move past it. "If it helps them have a little enthusiasm and a little pep in their step, that's good" to get confidence, etc. after a win. Even if some people didn't play well, they'll be more confident after a win and that's positive going forward.
Hasn't had a conversation with Danny Hope about what happened last year. Have only briefly spoken during the conference meetings.
Motivation won't be an issue, especially with Purdue getting wins in the past two meetings. Purdue has had some QB injuries, fast skill guys, two good defensive ends. "I want our guys to feel good for a couple days" but that doesn't mean they'll overlook Purdue.
They match up in certain spots with Purdue, particularly at QB and WR, but Purdue is athletic up front on the OL. "Defensively, we have some athleticism, but not enough. Not enough speed yet."
Not yet sure which quarterbacks Purdue will have back this week - if Rob Henry will be available.
On getting to a bowl - "No question it was a sense of relief, not only for the staff and the players, but particularly for the seniors." They earned the chance to extend their college career for one more game, and they'll get another month as members of the team.
Important if you have a lot of young players to get those 15 bowl practices. "We have a lot of young players that they're going to have to develop and they'll have to get ready to help us, especially on defense." Early enrollees can't participate in bowl practices. RR thinks that's a good policy.
Not necessarily more injuries (across the country) now, just more public. Guys are getting bigger and faster, so maybe there are more injuries. FieldTurf has probably saved 25% of knee injuries vs. Astroturf.
Injury report - want it to be fair to the kids by being accurate from the source. Families know first, but don't want to have incorrect reports published.
Won all three times he's been in a triple OT game. Couldn't imagine how tough it would be to lose one. "We have a hard time sleeping anyway as coaches. I can imagine how many plays you'd replay in your head over at night... there's so many plays that can make a difference in the game, and if you win them, you think about them and move on." If they won a 10-7 overtime game, it would be a shock (to only score that much), but they'll take any win they can.
Wins help the players stay confident for the future, prevent spiraling. "Even though it might not have been a really good game for them individually, it was a good game for Michigan." The guys get to enjoy that moment.
Assistant coaches tell Coach Rod about negative recruiting stories they hear on the road. "I think we have enough positives here that we can accentuate the positive."
Has never had a non-kicker/punter have to attempt an extra point. Thought Suh's kick was going to be good, and he just barely missed it.
This past weekend's thriller had a few visitors, including instate prospects DeAnthony Arnett and Desmond Morgan. The game wasn't just exciting for the fans but the recruits as well. Reactions and other recruiting news:
6'1", 225 lbs.
This was Morgan's second time attending a Michigan game this season. This one was a little bit different for him since he now has a scholarship offer from Michigan.
I enjoyed every part of the game, it was really exciting. Last time I was there I thought how cool it would be to be noticed by them, or get a chance to play for them. This time I thought that could be me next year, and I have a chance to play on that field. I appreciated that feeling.
Desmond was escorted to the game by his dad, who is also a big Michigan fan. They got to experience some firsts together, and started thinking more seriously about the recruiting scene.
We met Coach Rodriguez and Frey, and that was the first time we've met both of them in person. We got a chance to walk around the locker room, and anytime you get a chance to walk through that tunnel it's pretty special. My dad liked it a lot.
As I reported previously, Morgan wants to take his time with his recruitment. He is a Michigan fan, but doesn't want to rush into anything, but this visit was a step in the right direction for Michigan.
I talked to the coaches about making an official visit. We're going to try to get that set up this week. They mentioned the Big Chill hockey game (Dec. 10th), so that's a possible date. I really had a lot of my questions answered already. The main thing was spending time with the coaches and getting to know them better. I wanted to feel welcomed there, and I really did feel that.
Desmond should have his official set up by this week. He also plans on visiting Northwestern this weekend for the Iowa game. Things are looking good for Michigan, though.
5'10", 185 lbs.
Fort Myers, Florida
Dallas Crawford has been high on Michigan for some time now. I wanted to get some perspective on him from his current head coach on where Michigan stands with both Dallas and his teammate Sammy. Coach Redhead:
Dallas has Michigan as his number one school because of his two visits there and the atmosphere. Sammy still has Michigan in close second to Clemson. It's a little harder for me to get a read on him, but Michigan is close. They're in the hunt for both of them. I don't think it should matter, but I think it might matter how both teams finish for Sammy. [ed: ie, coach doesn't think it should be relevant but it could be anyway.]
Redhead has had some good prospects come through the schools he has coached at, but he has some strong feelings about both Crawford and Watkins.
Dallas is a solid character kid, and one that I never have to worry about. He has some of the best instincts I've ever coached, and that includes the big name kids. Dallas has that football IQ. He knows where to be and when to be there, and he's always in the right spot. Same thing with Sammy. They both just do what they're asked of them.
For any head coach, it's important to be able to trust the coaches recruiting their athletes, and it seems as if Michigan has earned that trust from Coach Redhead.
Greg Frey recruits down here, and I've known him since he was at Florida State. I know he's going to take care of our kids. When we know they're good people and they care about the kids, and not just wins and losses, it makes it easier on us. That's the good thing about the Michigan coaches, they all care about these kids.
Both Dallas and Sammy are focused taking their team deep into the playoffs. They will be scheduling an official visit to Michigan in the near future. Sammy will most likely take an official to Clemson as well.
6'0", 170 lbs.
DeAnthony Arnett was at the Michigan game this past weekend and has put Michigan back on his list. I caught up with his brother Ralph, who let me know about the visit a little while ago, about Arnett's plans for this week.
The visit was nice. We picked the perfect game to come to. We talked with all the coaches, and Coach Singletary. They never stopped recruiting DeAnthony, and he told them that he wanted to see them play before he came for a visit. They had their receivers go off, and it was a great atmosphere.
The visit on the field was great, but what they were shown off the field was possibly just as important.
As far as the visit, it was outstanding. DeAnthony got one on one time with the academic advisors. They stress time management on the kids, and a lot of schools don't talk about that. It can get overwhelming, and they said they don't let the freshman fall behind, and they pay close attention to them. That was great.
Arnett has already been out to USC, Cal, and Tennessee. He obviously has had plenty of exposure to both Michigan and Michigan State. His brother let me know what the plans are from here.
DeAnthony will be announcing his decision this Wednesday at 9 AM at Saginaw High. He will be calling the coaches on Tuesday to tell them what he's decided to do. We'll go over his notes and see what he wants to do from there.
The family has kept everything close to the vest, but Michigan does have a chance. We'll all know Wednesday.
Also, here's film from four of DeAnthony's games this year.
- Four star Maryland defensive back Blake Countess was offered this past week. Look for Michigan to shoot up his list, potentially as his favorite. This could be a big pickup for Michigan if it works out.
- DC running back Malcolm Crockett is still on his official visit. I will hopefully have an update with him once he's back home.
- The Demetrius Hart scare has been resolved, and ended up just having to do with his high school, and early enrollment problems.
- Rich Rodriguez said at his press conference today that Craig Roh will most likely stay on the defensive line. Probably mostly due to this.
11/6/2010 – Michigan 67, Illinois 65 (3OT) – 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten
At the risk of convincing everyone that the first impossibly apropos moppet was fiction, let me tell you about this impossibly apropos moppet a few rows in front of me.
He was about ten. He was wearing a number seven jersey and when he took his hat off for the national anthem his hair was staticky. Before the game he was hopping up in down in an attempt to burn off nervous energy, and when Michigan ran out to touch the banner his mind was blown. He exclaimed "this is so AWESOME" as only a ten-year-old boy can. The words forced themselves out in self defense—if they hadn't the pressure would have given him an aneurysm. I know what that excitement is like. I remember getting a Nintendo.
I can't imagine what his mind is like four fighter jets, three overtimes, 132 points, and one last-play win later. He's probably sitting at his desk right now, mouth slightly ajar and drooling, involuntarily twitching out the words "so" and "awesome" as the rest of the class learns to count to 15 in Spanish. Plans to put him on ritalin have been temporarily shelved. His father has been asked "what did you do to the boy?"
The father can only shrug and say "talk to Ron Zook, Rich Rodriguez, and Greg Robinson."
What can you say about a game like that? You can say it was entirely appropriate for Special K to play the Bed Intruder song. Yes. Michigan and Illinois just went Rasputin on that barn. They burned it, then they napalmed it, then they nuked it, then they shot up the radioactive wasteland for the hell of it, then they poisoned a flat expanse of glass with holes in it, then they dug it up and threw it into the river for it to drown. And then it was halftime.
While the kid was getting the football equivalent of heroin in his eyeballs it seemed like the rest of the stadium was strangely muted once it became clear that touchdowns were more like baskets than goals. Any individual event was far less important in a game that would last until mid-day Sunday.
I was with them. I still remember thinking "that's 30% of the points we need to win" after Michigan's first touchdown in the 2006 Ohio State game. I was raised on three yards and a cloud of dust, and while I could not be more grateful that Michigan's offense now has run plays beyond "zone left" and "zone right," this style of football is all frisson. It piles up and up and up. It's amazing, but when you're not ten your mind only has so much to give before it gets complacent. Things don't build up, they just happen. So when Roy Roundtree scores on the first play of the game you're happy but you're also wondering how they're going to blow it.
The answer was "in all ways possible with a special emphasis on running back wheel routes." But they kept setting things right until Jonas Mouton leapt over a cut block and Craig Roh stunted inside and Nathan Scheelhaase finally had nowhere to go but down. My reaction to this was very strange. After feeling dampened most of the day I cracked and hugged my fiancée—making her annual pilgrimage—long and hard and relieved. So relieved.
This team isn't good at all but I love it. If Craig Roh gets to class early he runs up and down steps in his spare time. Roy Roundtree does a Donald Duck impression and wakes up hungry. Tate Forcier's gone from sulking on the bench and "out" to leaping around like a madman after leading a comeback win over Illinois and coming somewhat close to the same against Iowa. And then there's Denard, and the most put-upon man on the planet, and I just want them to succeed because it will make them happy.
A lot of sports fandom does degenerate into rooting for you in that sad Nick Hornby way. While I'm not anywhere near sports Buddhism, more and more prominent among the millions of reasons I want Michigan to win is because of how it will validate all this crap they have to put up with.
Even if that goes with the territory at Michigan, what's gone on the last three years long ago crossed the line from disappointed and upset to nastily personal, on everyone's part.
Almost everyone, anyway. After the game we're walking up the bleachers and the kid's right in front of us, trying to show his father his hand. His father seems to acknowledge the hand, but not enough for the kid's taste. "I'm never washing this hand again," he says. "Denard gave me a high five." He wears an Adidas wristband like the players. He doesn't care about anything other than Michigan won and I touched Denard and this is awesome. I think about White Noise, a Don DeLillo book I don't actually like that much* about the paralyzing fear of death driving middle aged academics literally insane, and how the only moments of respite in the book are thanks to the presence of an infant named Wayne or Warren or something.
So Saturday was awesome, and this is my favorite bad team ever, and goddammit I'm going to their nondescript bowl.
*(The moment in American literature when ironically capitalizing marketing messages to assert that the background radiation of advertising has become our national discourse has mercifully passed—David Foster Wallace got away with it a few times but only just, and not always.)
Non-Bullets, Amazingly Long
Head injuries. Michigan's bombing Illinois with Denard and pulls him because of a headache and some concussion-like symptoms in a game that is almost make or break for Rich Rodriguez's career. And he could even see:
"Certainly for his safety, you're not going to put him back out there," Rodriguez said. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you where he is, but he had a smile on his face and he was talking, but obviously, you're going to be precautionary.
"Anytime you get hit there and you've got some headaches, you're going to watch that."
Is there anyone who's been unfairly demonized more than him? "Win at all costs." Right.
(HT: the Wolverine Blog.)
Skill position contributions. My takeaway from the offense other than "duuurrrr" was that's what it looks like when the skill position players are adding yards of their own. Vincent Smith made a lot of great glide cuts on the zone stretch, spun through a couple tackles, and had his best day as a runner at Michigan. Junior Hemingway's sideline rain dance created another touchdown from 15-20 yards, and Roy Roundtree was finding epic YAC. That's something we've been missing most of the year save for Stonum's screen touchdown against UMass, which is UMass and was not the #15 defense in the country entering the game.
Stretching it. Speaking of the stretch: it came back. Michigan had gone almost exclusively to an inside run game earlier in the year, and that worked well enough, but I think part of the issue with getting Denard some zone keepers has been that move away. The stretch makes it tough on the backside defensive end because if he's going to tackle the tailback on a cutback he has to flow down the line hard. On all the inside zone stuff Michigan's been running he can hang out and do whatever and still have a decent chance of making a play. That's why Michigan has been blocking the backside guy all year and probably why I'm always a little frustrated by Denard never keeping the ball.
They brought it back for Illinois and I'm pretty sure what I'll see in the UFR is an ass-kicking day from David Molk. On Michigan's last touchdown they went to the stretch on second and goal from the five. Corey Liuget, who is an all-conference type of player, shot into the backfield; Molk walled him off and eventually sent him to the ground. There wasn't a hint of a hold on the play, but a frustrated Liuget did the flag motion thing to the referee and just stood there exasperated as Michigan celebrated a touchdown that came on a gaping hole from the five because Liuget had just gotten owned.
The stretch also seemed to revitalize Vincent Smith, who had the opportunity to make darting cuts past traffic and find the creases as they developed. I'll be interested to see how it holds up on film.
End of half game theory stuff. Reverse on the kickoff was a beautiful playcall because in that situation if you get hammered for a loss you can probably just run the clock out. A perfect time for that call and one that got Michigan in scoring position with a minute on the clock. That's a win.
In retrospect, the decision to kick was not so much. I didn't think about this at the time so I'm not blaming anyone else for not thinking about it either, but with Michigan's defense and 42 seconds (IIRC) on the clock the argument for going for it is a lot stronger than it would be with 12, because if you get it you're robbing Illinois of the opportunity to get that last possession in. Even if you don't get it, most coaches will just head to the locker room if they get the ball on their own 15.
Defensive moves. While the defense remained horrendous, it wasn't nearly as horrendous as it was against Penn State (and Matt McGloin did just bomb Northwestern for 35 points despite Robert Bolden playing the first two series, so that performance was only 90% completely awful). PSU had 41 points on nine real drives; Illinois had 45 in regulation on 16, many of which started in advantageous field position after Michigan turnovers and one Hagerup punt from his endzone.
Moving Craig Roh back to defensive end seemed to pay immediate dues, but Michigan kept flipping between three and four man lines with the fourth guy on the line either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald. Illinois ran right at that and had good success—that was the setup on the first and twenty option that went the distance, though I'm pretty sure the culpable party there was Mouton. Anyway, Cam Gordon looked a lot better in his second game at spur and you can tell the difference in tackling technique between him and Ray Vinopal—Vinopal uses his arms. Sweet.
Gordon looks like a much better fit as his current position. He was surprisingly adept at blitzing—he'd get the edge on the Illinios tackle and come around to flush Scheelhaase a few times.
Demens, yo. Another thing that will have to wait for the tape but: I'm pretty sure Kenny Demens had a great game unless he blew a lot of coverage (which is possible). The number of runs that were heading outside the tackles for what looked like big gains until they were suddenly cut down by Demens after he cut through a block seemed like it was around a half dozen.
Not a controversy but not a clear cut thing either. I was thinking this myself but Adam Jacobi already wrote it and blockquoting is easy:
Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
The frequency of Denard Robinson dings has seen Forcier enter most games this year, with extended relief appearances in the fourth quarter of the Iowa and Illinois games. When Forcier comes in Michigan generally punts quickly (or Forcier yakety saxes an unforced fumble). Forcier gets his feet under him a bit later and things are fine. It may be time to put Forcier in on the regular, say two or three drives a game. This would reduce wear on Robinson, have Forcier ready to play each week, throw defenses a curveball, and lessen the chances a desperately-needed Forcier lights out for somewhere else after the season. The offense doesn't seem quite as good when Tate's in there but the difference isn't vast and the benefits are tangible.
Special K, I hate you. The level of odiousness from Special K was exceeded by a factor of 100 on Saturday when he played "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and "Down with the Sickness." We've gone from minor league hockey to WWE. Thanks, Special K. This is the no-BS one thing that makes me think the Brandon era will be something other than a success: he hasn't taken this guy and put him in stocks on the diag.
Some photos from an Illinois guy. AnnArbor.com has an extensive collection as well.. Purdue blogger guarantees victory over Michigan. The Hoover Street Rag riffs on A Better Son/Daughter. Doc Sat's take:
If for some reason you were kidnapped by maniac who forced you at gunpoint to make sense of Michigan's roller-coaster season in 12 words or less, you'd probably settle for something like this: The offense is unstoppable. The defense is horrible. Denard Robinson got hurt.
If you hadn't seen a single one of the Wolverines' first eight games, that would pretty much bring you up to speed coming into today, except for one minor detail: Against a string of respectable competition over the last month, you could also add "Wolverines lose."
And a random video of the Michigan drumline:
There's another one on the tubes as well.
An finally, Maize n Brew headline:
Hallelujah!!!! Holy S@#%
MGoBlog Ballot - Week 11
|3||TCU Horned Frogs||1|
|4||Boise St. Broncos||-1|
|9||Michigan St. Spartans||3|
|10||Ohio St. Buckeyes||3|
|11||Alabama Crimson Tide||-5|
|12||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||5|
|19||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||1|
|20||Virginia Tech Hokies||5|
|21||South Carolina Gamecocks||-3|
|23||Nevada Wolf Pack||1|
|24||Texas A&M Aggies||--|
|25||Central Florida Knights||--|
|Dropouts: N.C. State Wolfpack, Florida St. Seminoles, Baylor Bears|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
- At the top, Auburn has a few more impressive pelts on their wall, but Oregon has been winning their games more convincingly. The two are essentially tied at the top.
- The big win over Utah bumps TCU ahead of Boise, despite the Broncos' similarly convincing win over Hawaii. Utah is a much better victim.
- LSU and Stanford are essentially tied. Just like at the top of the poll, the SEC team has less convincing wins over a slightly better schedule.
- From 8 to about 19, there are arguments for reordering the teams. I'm certainly open to hearing them in the comments. I sort of want to move Alabama down, so if you can provide good reasoning for that, let me know.
- I was struggling to find teams for the end of the poll (like usual). Texas A&M has only one "good" win, that being over Oklahoma, but their three losses are to my current #12, #16, and #18 teams, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
The resume chart lives here, if you're interested in the raw data. Comment away.
I used to be mad at my school. The defensive play was not cool. But I can't complain.
Sports fans and pundits often make the mistake of treating the last contest as too exemplary of the current state of things. Michigan's offense isn't so good to typically put up 500 yards on an okay Big Ten defense by halftime. Maybe its defensive mean isn't giving up 65 points after three overtimes. We probably won't give up five turnovers, or leave receivers on our 1 yard line with acreage of openness like -- what was it, two, three times? -- in every game.
But I will say that yesterday's 67-65 triple-overtime victory over Illinois is Michigan 2010 in extremis: the defense isn't going to stop anybody; kickers will miss; and with Tate or Denard, our offense won't stop unless it stops itself.
Sgt. Barwis's Lonely Harts* Club Band
White Boy, if you're out there, GET HER BACK TO WORK! You're our only hope.
4th quarter, man! Remember when not too long ago we were rooting for a team that routinely struggled to hold a two-score lead in the 4th quarter**? If it's possible to overstate the transition from Massey-Eat-Pizza to Eeeeee Barwis!, surely this blog will get there without me, but how happy were you, when the rounds of this game starting piling up like a Rocky Balboa fight, that we were the guys with the wolf-man's conditioning program?
This is a Rich Rodriguez team: more deserving of admiration than awe. It's both by design, and a design flaw, because Justin Turner giving 80 percent is probably better than Ray Vinopal's 110% effort, and the going theory is that we don't have Turner because 80 percent of anything doesn't get to play for Michigan these days. It's inspirational, and maddening, and really young, and it apparently can beat an average Big Ten team 67-65 in triple overtime.
I don't need a reason to root for Michigan, but I like to have one. I rooted for Lloyd because a man who could coach football and speak intelligently about Emerson was unique and good. Rich Rodriguez's team earned their playing time not just be being better than the other guys, but trying better. They are the ones who went through Barwis hell. They are the ones who stayed.
* Cause they've all got HART, get it?
** and when 7-5 was a "Year of Infinite Pain?"
Beating Illinois 67-65 isn't an end, unless it is made so. We have a sophomore offense and a freshman defense, and regardless of what traspired yesterday or in the next month, we have very good reason to think we'll be better. Let me show why...
Do You Need Anybody?
This comes from a conversation this week in response to an excellent diary by I Blue Myself about the huge leap Michigan is expected to take next year, simply by returning most of what's already a very good offense, and the defensive starters being more than a few months from senior prom.
Allow myself to quote... myself:
Would you trade Schilling, Webb, Dorrestein, Mouton, Banks, and the backup NTs and MLBs for another year of experience for Denard/Tate, the entire RB corps., Koger, the entire receiving corps., the other three offensive linemen plus all of their young backups? Maybe.
Would you trade them for that plus a magic wand that gets Jibreel Black and Craig Roh 40 lbs. heavier, puts another year under (and within) the belts of the young and hyped linebackers, transforms freshman DBs into sophomore corners, and transforms James Rogers into Troy Woolfolk. Um, yes please.
This got me thinking about when the last time we expected such a leap. I know this place likes charts, so I made a big one (er...three) for other recent annual transitions. What it does is try to put a value of performance that Michigan attained from each position in the years 2006 to '10, and project that of next year.
The positions are weighted, so like out of 56 "points" of performance that the offense can attain, 8 are attributable by the quarterback, 6 by the running backs, 5 each for linemen, etc. A 100-percent score for any given position is what you would expect from a well-scouted 4-star upperclassman. Ryan Van Bergen is a 100-percent positional fulfillment. The thinking goes that a team getting RVB production at every spot is the kind that can beat any team in the country.
For guys like Brandon Graham '09, there's an extra point awarded beyond the positional weight. A team full of these guys would not only be able to beat any team, but would be favored to do so. But that's not our expectation, and I'm trying to create an expecation percentage. Think of it as the chance that a given team will be an average (Illinois) Big Ten team.
The full spreadsheets are here (same link) so you can see how I rated everybody. Tabs at the bottom get you to different pages. Feel free to argue my numbers. Below are the conclusions:
The returning numbers are the weighted percentage of returning starters by position, so if a quarterback's coming back, that's 14% of the offense returning, whereas a returning fullback is 1.7% of an offense returning.
So if nobody gets hurt or transfers or makes a major regression, etc., we can look at the 2011 team and say they will about as good as the last Lloyd team. The point is that we're set up next year for a huge year-to-year progression:
|'06 to'07||'07 to '08||'08 to '09||'09 to '10||'10 to '11|
And Rocking Horse People Eat Marshmallow Pies
Am I fooling myself? I'm certainly worried about it. After all, this was said by Brian:
So… yeah. Michigan's defense improves in real, non-running-in-place terms. Maybe not much. But given the schedule they should claw their way to slightly above average, just like the offense.
...in the 2009 defensive preview. That preview projected improvements in BG, Ezeh, Mouton, Steve Brown replacing Thompson, Warren getting healthy, and Woolfolk taking over FS. It expected Mike Martin as a sophomore to be about as good as Taylor as a senior, Cissoko as a sophomore to be equivalent to Morgan Trent as a sophomore, Mike Williams to be on par with Charles Stewart, and then dropoffs from Will Johnson to RVB and Tim Jamison to Herron. How did that work out?
Better than expected: RVB being okay, and Roh being a better Jamison than Herron.
About as expected: Graham Beast Mode, Brown being good at linebacker, Woolfolk at FS when he could be a free safety, Martin.
Worse than expected: Ezeh>Ezeh, Mouton>Mouton, Warren>Warren, Cissoko=Trent, M.Williams=Stewart
Nothing in that preview mentioned a walk-on playing safety, Mike Williams being worse than said walk-on, J.T. Floyd as the best cornerback option opposite Warren, or the nuclear test site that was free safety.
I ran this again, using expectations as of the previous November, to see if this overrating of the future was endemic.
It is, especially the last couple of years. This is the result of all of the attrition and busts and whatnot. Each of these years we've been expecting Mouton and Ezeh to turn their respective lights on. We figured Martin would remain healthy. We figured the backfield this year would have a senior 2nd team Big Ten candidate (Woolfolk) opposite a sophomore blue chip (Turner) at corner, a 4-star sophomore (Emilien) or maybe a 5-star freshman at deep safety, and for Kovacs to be the worst, rather than the best, player in the backfield. Voila: minus-22.
Considering this exercise, I am starting to think the problem is not in our expectations for the future, but in a serious problem, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, to meet generally conservative expectations for improvement. Injuries to the defense's best two players can't be helped. Obi and Mouton should have some noticeable improvement. Your 4- and 5-star defensive backs (Cissoko, Emilien, Turner, Dorsey) should, as of mid-way through their sophomore years, be...I dunno...if not on the field, at least on the friggin' roster.
has destroyed so much goodness in the world that it would take a herculean effort by incredibly talented, system-perfect, quickly trained and generally healthy offensive players coached by a football genius to make up for it. (more about that in a minute).
The point of this is to see whether we should expect such disappointments again next year, and adjust accordingly. Here's the things that I am expecting to go right:
- Mike Martin returns, is healthy and an NFL-ready beast (+3)
- Jibreel Black makes a sophomore jump (+1)
- Roh makes a Junior jump, and is used at DE instead of LB (+2)
- Two of Jones/M-Rob/Furman/Fitzgerald/Herron are as good as Mouton and Obi have been this year (hold)
- Demens improves as a junior, isn't Ezeh in Sept-Oct (+2)
- Gordons become sophomores (+1)
- Kovacs remains Kovacs-ian (even)
- Woolfolk replaces James Rogers (+4)
- Floyd/random sophomore 3-star project is the soft corner instead of, like, a guy who was a high school QB this time last year (+2)
- Dime and nickel backs are sophomores, exist (+2)
That's 17 improvement points, not including any surprises or freshmen playing. Most are some version of replacing a guy who has played his position for two months going to a guy who has been there a year or more. Injuries will knock that back some since we are thin all over the place. But if I even yank that down to 11, we're talking about the same improvement the offense had between 2008 and 2009.
(flip the disc for Side 2)