Peppers at 10, which seems low.
|WHAT||Northern Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena|
7:35 PM Friday
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Record. 14-10-6, 9-9-6 CCHA. The Northerns, as Al Randall bizarrely calls them, are yet another basically .500 CCHA team. Even at this late juncture six of the eleven teams are within a game of .500. Northern has the worst goal differential of any of them at –5, FWIW.
NMU has been successful out of conference, going 5-1 against WCHA opponents St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, and Michigan Tech. That has seen them through to the good side of the tournament bubble. Yeah, the bubble: even though Northern is currently tied for ninth in the PWR the margins down there are incredibly slim and a Michigan sweep this weekend could bonk them out of the tourney entirely, if temporarily.
Previous meetings. Remember this?
Yeah… that. Shawn Hunwick got booted from the Friday night game for that. You can see why he was pissed:
This started the year-long Gongshow campaign in Hunwick's crease and as a result Michigan got only a tie out of the weekend, losing 5-3 in the punch game and eking out a 3-3 tie Saturday. On Friday Michigan fell behind 3-1; after Hyman and Travis Lynch tied it up Janecyk let in a soft one to let the game slip away. Shots were 32-27 Northern. Michigan outshot Northern 28-26 the next night.
Dangermen. I'll defer to Marquette native Jason Paul on this one:
Topping my list would be big 6-foot-4 senior forward Justin Florek. He was a beast last time around against the Wolverines, who struggled to defend him in front of the net, especially on the power play. Florek has 15 goals and 13 assists in 30 games. Eight of his goals have come with the man advantage. He only had one goal against Michigan earlier this season, but he was responsible for a pair of redirects in front of the net on the power play led to rebound goals. I expect to see U-M defenseman Jon Merrill matched up with his line. That’ll definitely be the match up to watch on the power play.
Tyler Gron had 14-19-33 as well. Matt Thurber appears to be the other member of that line with an 8-15-23 line; past that there's an NMU version of Treias in sophomore Stephan Vigier (11-9-20) and a couple guys with seven goals before the dropoff into grinder territory.
Defense? I'm splitting defense and goalie because they are different things and putting a question mark after defense because let's be honest: it is impossible to scout college hockey opponents since they're never on television and honestly I don't know if I could figure anything meaningful out from a game or two anyway. Defensemen are especially vulnerable to misrepresentation.
So. Junior Kyle Follmer is the only NMU defenseman to make an impact offensively with 3-19-22. As a team, NMU is 21st in goals allowed per game but the guy in net has a huge impact on that, as we'll see…
Goalie. You may have noticed Jared Coreau's name pop up when this blog discusses how statistically impressive Shawn Hunwick is. That's generally to dismiss his candidacy for big-time awards because he's platooning, but a .935 save percentage is impressive even so. Paul notes that Coreau seems to have asserted himself as the man after starting the last three games. With senior Reid Ellington sporting a .905 and giving up almost an additional goal per game it's not hard to see why. The Wildcats are in crunch time and it's time to ride the hot guy.
This is how big a difference there has been between the two goalies: extrapolate Coreau's 2.03 GAA to a team GAA and NMU would be second nationally in goals allowed. Ellington's 2.92 would be 37th. As always, NCAA goalie sample sizes are extremely small, but they're all we've got.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||3.6||3.9|
|PP Ag / G||4.7||4.1|
The above table hasn't been much help of late. Gongshow is gonna gongshow and Red has now uncharacteristically complained about the officiating for two straight weeks. But, yeah, Northern takes a ton of penalties and doesn't draw many.
When on special teams, the NMU power play is decent, converting at just under 20% and fielding only one shorthanded goal. Michigan is still languishing just over 15%. Northern is 7th nationally on the kill; while NMU can expect to be shorthanded more often than M they perform better on special teams; this can be considered a wash.
Michigan vs Those Guys
Don't have Hunwick freak out and nail some guy but good. This is self explanatory, but it would be nice if a Gongshow ref actually called contact on Hunwick.
Keep your cool in general. This series was ugly four months ago. The Hunwick thing came paired with a couple of fighting DQs and a Northern guy got a contact-to-the-head DQ Saturday night. Pair that with Michigan's Miami dustup and increasing frustration with Gongshow refereeing you can see the outlines of an ugly, penalty-filled series short on 5-on-5 play.
This would be a bad thing. Not only does NMU play better on special teams than Michigan does but they give up a ton of shots relative to the opponent (they're –202 in CCHA play). The bulk of that disparity is 5x5—1.1 power plays per game does not make that big of a difference. If Michigan can play some of the remarkably penalty-free games they've turned in thus far they'll be in good shape.
Third line: make something pay off. The Sparks-Moffatt-Hyman line seems like it should be putting some pucks in the net but hasn't in a long, long time. AJ Treais can't keep his smoking hot shooting up forever. Unless Travis Lynch is going to start scoring against teams not named Michigan State, at some point Michigan is going to need these guys to step up.
First line: get your mojo back. Sans Brown the top line got smoked on Friday vs State and they didn't score on Saturday, which was the seemingly first time since its invention that it had not. As a huge driver of Michigan's success in the post-swoon era it will be reassuring if they get back on track.
The Big Picture
The CCHA title is likely gone. If Ferris biffs their layup against BGSU this weekend the door cracks open. That's not likely. That out of the way, Michigan can certainly aim for second and will strive to finish in the top four to get the bye and second-round home series. A split would likely assure the latter, again assuming Michigan doesn't totally blow their BGSU layup.
As far as the Pairwise goes, it's like I've been saying for a long time: Michigan can tread water with a split but to make headway they will have to do better than that. Splitting hurts slightly and will see them continue to hang out in the 2-seed band they currently occupy. Sweeping likely takes them past a team or two—they would definitely pass Ferris, for one, by becoming the #1 team in RPI. Probably, anyway. It's hard to predict exactly what will happen.
Aforementioned Michigan Hockey Net preview.
Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines may only be a sophomore, but he's already hearing from schools not only in the Midwest, but around the country. At 6'2", 265 pounds, Hines already has great size for a high schooler, and he's garnering interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oregon, Boston College, and others. I had the chance to speak with the class of 2014 prospect this week, and Brandon gave me some insight into his recruitment, including some potential good news forthcoming from the Wolverines:
ACE: You said you had some exciting news. What's happening on that front?
BRANDON: Basically, I made a new highlight tape, because I broke my hand at the beginning of the season—I had a broken hand for six games, having the club kind of slowed me down. I finally got [tape of] all the games without the club and I made a highlight tape from that, and I think I performed a lot better without that club, and a bunch of colleges seem to think so too. I decided to send that film out, and one of the first coaches I decided to reach out to was Coach Mattison from Michigan, and after I sent him my film I got some really good feedback from him.
ACE: What did Coach Mattison tell you about your film?
BRANDON: I first called him and told him the day before I sent him a text asking him if he got the tape and he said he did. He had a player in his office, so he had the player find my film for him and he told me to call him back in 30 minutes. 30 minutes passes over after I'm done lifting and I gave him a call back. Basically, to my surprise, he said they were extremely impressed and they definitely want me there. I actually talked to him about my film for a little bit and we got to know each other, and he asked me if I had any offers. As of right now, I don't have any offers, but a couple schools have been hinting and when I make my trips out to those schools I'm pretty sure I'll pull out an offer.
When I was talking to [Coach Mattison] he told me he's not going to offer a scholarship over the phone, so he asked me when I was available to come to the school. He said they're going to be on their spring break [soon], but they're going to be done in early March and that's when he wants me to come out there and watch a spring practice and meet the head coach. I'm definitely looking forward to making a visit to Ann Arbor and see what Michigan has to offer.
ACE: Have you made any other visits so far?
BRANDON: Most of my visits are going to take place now. I've been to Wisconsin twice, Michigan State, and NIU, and I also went to Boston College for their junior day. Most of my big-time visits will be taking place from this week up until the end of March, that's when I'm going to be taking my big-time visits to really good schools. First I went up to Wisconsin this [past] weekend for their junior day, then the next weekend I'm heading down to Illinois—I talked to the coach there, Coach Butkus from Illinois, and he's definitely interested, he loved my film, so I'm hoping to get some good news from them. The week after that I think I'm going to be heading down to Arkansas for their junior day, and then the week after that I'll be at Michigan State, then the week after that I'll be at Michigan.
ACE: Are there any other schools have been talking to?
BRANDON: Tennessee—I sent them my film, and that's where my parents are from, so I've got some ties there—Oregon State got my film and they really liked it, and Boston College. A lot of schools are seeing my film. Also Oklahoma State I've been reaching out to and I plan to hear from them in the next couple of days. Then there are schools that have mailed me, schools like Kansas State, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin, Minnesota, there's a long list of schools. That's what I can think of off the top, but those are some of the schools, and then a lot of other Big Ten programs have been sending me mail to the extent that they can.
Things are going at a steady pace but I definitely think if in these next couple weeks I can pick up an offer it's going to pick up a lot more. I also didn't get to send out my film to all the coaches I wanted to, so I feel that once I get that out I'll definitely be in a good position, so it's only good things to come from now on.
ACE: Being just a sophomore and getting this type of attention, what's it like for you? How are you handling it right now?
BRANDON: You know, it's actually nothing new to me at all. I've known about the recruiting process and followed most of it since I was in eighth grade. I can go back and name All-Americans from the U.S. Army game when I was in eighth grade. It's nothing new to me. I've been focused on getting a scholarship for a long time, I think I've prepared myself for it. I know what it's going to be like, I know it's going to get hectic, I know I'm going to get a lot of mail. I know the first and second days I'm able to get recruited, exactly what to expect. I've talked to a lot of other high-caliber players—I talk to [2013 TX recruit] Jake Raulerson, he's a really good guy. I've talked to Kyle Bosch a few times. I talk to [2013 Brookfield, WI DE] Chikwe Obasih, from my state, a lot of other good players. They give me advice and tell me what it's like from time to time, so it's definitely something that I'm prepared for, and I'm really ready to get these offers and hopefully narrow down my choices soon.
ACE: What type of advice are those guys giving you?
BRANDON: When I was a freshman, I thought I needed to get to the U.S. Army combine, gotta get to this combine, this combine, this combine; I went to those combines, did really well, got MVPs at most of them. Then I actually talked to Kyle Bosch about it, and he was like, "You know what man, straight up, they're a waste of money," besides the Army combine and stuff like that. He told me that you've got to get to the college camps, that's what you've gotta do, see the coaches one-on-one and just impress them that way, because it's better to see them first-hand than third-party. Jake Raulerson, he's really religious, a really good guy. That's where I get most of my faith advice from, I guess you could say. I follow that example, he's a really good guy, and he's strong in his faith which is extremely good. It's a lot of different stuff coming from different people, but I definitely appreciate all of it and it helps me.
ACE: When you head out to these schools, what specifically are you looking for? I know it's a long way off, but what's going to come into play when you're trying to pick a college?
BRANDON: School major are definitely a big key for me right now. I'm trying to see what a program is going to be like when I get there. I want to talk to a lot of the players, not just the star players but everyone, like when I went to Wisconsin I talked to Derek Watt, who I threw shot against, I talked to Darius Feaster, who went to my school, and I talked to a lot of other players who aren't the biggest big-time players but will give me the real feedback of the school. Then I'm definitely looking at the campus and the area, that's a big thing for me. I'm from a big city, Milwaukee is a pretty big city. I definitely need someplace where it's kinda populated, a big fan base for a school would be a good thing for me.
Also, the coaching staff, I have to have a coaching staff that pushes people. The coaching staff I'm with at my high school right now, I moved here [to Homestead], and they're tremendous. They're on you all the time no matter what. They will stay on you, they're going to push you, and they're going to push you past your limits. That's something I'm definitely looking for. Today I had a really tough workout with one of our coaches who's one of the to speed trainers in the state, so I'm definitely looking for some high-caliber coaches.
ACE: Looking back on your sophomore year, I know you said you were hurt for a little bit there, but how do you think you played overall?
BRANDON: Coming in sophomore year, I was nervous, really nervous. I guess you'd say my first three games at Homestead I was really nervous, because it's been a really good program, like 10-1 and 11-1. It's a lot to live up to, to play at that level. With the injury I think I performed pretty well. I think when I got to the fifth game I just built a lot of confidence, the team saw a lot of confidence with me and I exceeded [expectations] from there. I pulled in 42 tackles and six sacks. I think I pulled in some pretty good numbers and it was a solid overall season. But I think I'm definitely looking to possibly get to a state title next year. I think we have a lot of good players and we can definitely pull it off if we all work together.
ACE: What would you say your biggest strengths are as a player, and what are you trying to work on to improve for next year and to ultimately earn those scholarships?
BRANDON: I think I'm a good technical player. You see a bit more a technical side to me as opposed to a bull-rush type style. I do a lot of swim moves. I think that's my knack, I have a knack for playing like a skinny person when it comes to using moves. My key strength is definitely my strength—I think I'm pretty advanced with my strength, I think I bench 300 and I squad 405, so I think that's definitely an advantage for me. The thing I want to work on next season is my speed. I want to become a fast player. Being from the South, I think that's something I definitely have to live up to is my speed. I think if I cut a little bit of unnecessary weight I'll be a pretty good player, and that's definitely what I want to be known as coming into my junior year, is more speed than strength.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's one thing—like a hobby or something—that you like doing that has nothing to do with sports that you'd like people to know about you?
BRANDON: This is so far-fetched from what you'd think. I collect sneakers. That's an odd hobby but I'm really into sneakers and clothing. Besides football, you'll probably catch me online looking at some new shoes. That sounded weird, but...
ACE: My brother is kind of a sneakerhead, so I know where you're coming from. Is there a specific shoe that you're trying to look out for? I know there's some Jordans that are kind of the holy grail, but is there a specific shoe that you're trying to look out for?
BRANDON: I'm not tied to Jordans, but I'm definitely trying to get the Olympic 6s when they come out in July. July is when my birthday is, so they'll be pretty easy to come by. We have a coach at our school, a basketball coach, who's pretty crazy for his sneakers and is actually known for his sneakers. I think he has over 900 shoes, so he's definitely giving me some advice and helping me improve my sneaker game. His name is Brandon Maddox, he's a good guy.
ACE: Man, 900, that's nuts. How many do you have?
BRANDON: I have 45 pairs. I'll buy shoes that I'll wear to school, and then I have my shoes that I just don't touch. I'll just let them sit there, then maybe on a rare occasion like when I go to a formal dinner I'll wear those shoes out. It gets pretty intense. I have a big sneaker collection for my age. Being 15 I can't even get a job, so I don't have the biggest advantage.
Guest post by Craig Ross.
I talked to Coach Darrell Funk for a bit before his three sessions (all on the inside zone game) and asked him about his impressions re: the defense last spring. He said, “I could feel it in the spring that the defense would be good. Coach Mattison was doing little things that drove us crazy.” The coach indicated that he thought his offense would be decent, so he knew that Mattison had a chance to show a lot more than the defense had in 2010. Indeed, Coach Funk stated he had been pretty certain of his assessment.
Funk is a very engaging guy. Like a few other coaches I have talked to (Mark Smith on the current staff, Rod Smith, Scot Loeffler and Mike DeBord on prior staffs) he considers it a priority that the listener understands what he is getting at. And, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the listener is a coach, a wanna-be coach, or just some schmo off the street (me, for example). He is a teacher, first, and it shows. At the close of his last session (he was three hours in) I bugged him (well, Brian goaded me; his fault) about the offside’s guard first step into the A gap (some call this a “bucket” step, a term Funk doesn’t prefer—he likes to say the OL is “giving ground to gain leverage”), and he was pleased that I asked him, demonstrating the technique to make sure I understood the point.
He started his first session saying that he could talk “for two full days” on the inside zone, if anyone was willing to listen. When Brian joined me for session 3, (he had spent sessions 1 and 2 with Coach Mattison) he (kinda) groused about not having the background to learn the “minutia” of these blocking techniques. But after building upon the first two sessions, I could have easily have listened to a few more. Not that I can swear that I was getting more than the various tips of isolated icebergs. And, probably I have some of it twisted around. But, my notes from the first session were close to pristine, before my energy waned.
Here are Coach Funk’s basic principles from the first session [the philosophy of the Inside Zone] with the caveat that I am just an ordinary fan. [Though Funk said, “If you just get a tidbit out of this I will be happy.”] Jargon is always tough for the non-coach but I think I have most of this “right.”
When zoning, Funk and Borges are seeking “hard double teams” at the line of scrimmage. Even though it is zone, they still want physical, hard downhill combo blocks.
The hard double team at the LOS is more important than getting one of the double team blockers to the second level, though, clearly, that’s the idea. But, between late on the second level and not getting hard double team blocks at the LOS, Funk chooses “be late.”
He doesn’t want the offensive line blocking “rules” to vary. He prefers that there not be a lot of exceptions to blocking assignments; it is best if the OL have a few rules, and not a lot of exceptions. Practice time is limited, you can only learn so much. [I have heard coaches say this over and over. Get good at what you do.]
Funk wants the offensive line and the RB to work for “squareness” with their shoulders. He thinks the shoulder angles of the OL and RB should match, as much as is possible. He stressed this a couple of times so I assume this is a key point for him.
He says if your RBs are running with square shoulders and “downhill” the back has a greater opportunity to take advantage of cut backs. He prefers that the RB press the gap and stay square, implying less bounce to the outside and, when there, the opportunity to find a lane (a cut back) when the defense has over-pursued. [I found this very interesting, not something I had heard before, especially the “match” between RBs and OL.]
When they are running zone with “number 16,” they often have a read to the backside (but not always). The key for Coach Hoke “and I have heard him say this a hundred times” is that he wants the back to “press the A gap until he can’t.” Hoke stresses simplicity.
Targeting. Who is going to combo what DL and to what backer? The Coach says the guards never say/call anything but the Center (Tackles? They may communicate with guards on the 30 or Bear fronts) is responsible for making “exception” calls. In the UM offense the exceptions are (primarily) a “30 front” (odd front with a NT right over the center) or a Bear defense. Otherwise, they have primary rules to determine who is doubling and who the target LB is. My assumption is that an OL blocks a lineman if he is covered. If not covered he doubles to the next linemen to his play side. Depending upon the movement of the DL, one blocker releases and looks to the second level, the targeted LB.
OL Splits. The basics are that center to guard is about 2 feet. Guard to tackle, about three feet. But he isn’t dogmatic about this or with stance, so long as the lineman isn’t tipping run or pass.
Landmarks. Doesn’t like angles. He wants each OL to work from “his backside eye to the play side number.” He feels this gets back to principle #1, hard doubles at the LOS. And then work to square, finishing North. “Stay low, don’t stand up.” [As he shows tape in subsequent sessions, he critiques OL play primarily looking to footwork, working to square.] So, let’s say the backside guard has a DL over him. The landmark is still BSE/PSN. He wants the OL to work a line of his backside eye to the DL’s play side shoulder, thus protecting the backside A gap. In the subsequent sessions, when reviewing tape, I would say these are the keys for Funk.
Footwork. “First step, get out of your footprint.” [And gain ground.] The second step is the most important, has got to “get into the ground.” Funk makes the second step as the most important coaching point. [He provides examples.]
Get out of your footprint, “get into the ground with your second step,” work backside eye to play side number, work to square, finish north. This is the homily.
Oh yeah, “don’t stand up.” Funk says he has one, young promising OG who “will get there” as soon as he stops standing up.
Two small things that cropped up in his presentation that I found interesting. First, Funk’s theme that there just isn’t enough time to teach/practice, so getting good at a couple of things is better than doing a lot of stuff not very well. I have heard this from coaches a lot.
Second, and this wasn’t that explicit but it was clearly there, was that Al Borges isn’t a huge fan of zone schemes. He would prefer to be in a man or gap system. I think Funk can go either way, and might even lean to zone constructs, but Borges isn’t convinced. Whether or not this is a tea leaf for the future I don’t know. Coach Funk seemed to indicate that it would take him a couple of years to get his zone scheme in sync (a bit different that RR’s scheme). So, we get the zone into gear next year and then we transition when Denard graduates? Or not? Next time I get the opportunity, I will ask.
In sessions two and three there was a lot of video demonstration and refinement of the basics outlined in session 1—ergo Brian’s comment. In the second session there was a lot of talk about defenders “spiking,” specifically “spiking down.” That’s when a defender attacks a gap from (say) outside of the right guard, looping back into the A gap. Funk talked about the techniques for protecting the A gaps, which were, in fact, variations of the BSE/PSN theme, but with an OL always taking a “bucket” step to the protect the gap to his play side, even if a short jab step and if the OL was “covered.”
Programming note: Brian is out for the day and I've got a pretty busy non-blogging day myself. We've got a lot of content ready to go, and I'll be checking in throughout the day, but Friday Recruitin' will either come late this afternoon or will morph into Saturday Recruitin', depending on my schedule.
Everett (MA) OL John Montelus recently earned a place at #214 overall in the Rivals250, making him one of the top prospect for 2013 on the East Coast. Standing at 6'5", 295 pounds, Montelus already has a college-ready body and holds early offers from Michigan, Boston College, UConn, Florida, N.C. State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, and West Virginia. I caught up with John recently to talk about his recruitment and his interest in the Wolverines:
ACE: Which schools have you been in contact with the most right now?
JOHN: Right now I'm contacting pretty much all the schools that have offered.
ACE: I know you got the Michigan offer relatively recently. Who have you been talking to from Michigan?
JOHN: I've been talking to Coach Funk and Coach Mallory. Both these guys are really good and I can't wait to go down there to make my unofficial visit soon.
ACE: Do you know when you want to visit the school or is that still up in the air right now?
JOHN: It's still up in the air right now, but I'm definitely going to make a visit soon.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan as a program?
JOHN: They have really good academics and they produce a lot of good offensive linemen.
ACE: Looking back at your junior year, how do you think you performed on the field?
JOHN: I played well. I did better than my sophomore year. I got way bigger; my sophomore year I was 245 and my junior year I was 295.
ACE: What would you say are the biggest strengths of your game, and what are you looking to improve to get to that next level?
JOHN: My biggest strength is definitely pass-blocking. I can run-block, but next year we're going to run more. I need to work, basically, on run-blocking.
ACE: You mentioned wanting to visit Michigan. Are there any other schools you want to visit at this point?
JOHN: I'm going down to Florida on my April vacation.
ACE: Do you have an idea of when you want to narrow down your choices?
JOHN: At the end of the summer I'll probably have my top five favorite schools.
ACE: When it comes time to pick a school, what are going to be the main factors that you're looking at?
JOHN: Good academics and a winning team, that's all I want.
ACE: In terms of position, I know you play offensive tackle in high school. Is that where you think you fit best at the college level?
JOHN: I could play offensive tackle in college, but if coaches think I can play guard I'll play guard. It doesn't matter what position.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's something about you that you think people should know about you?
JOHN: What do I do after football? Mostly I lift in the weight room.
ACE: Always working hard, it sounds like.
Everywhere else has reposted already so I might as well throw this up top. 'Pre-gaming with' Pat Stansik posted this ode to a valentine of untied laces, performed by a band called Mind's Eyes. The lyrics you will recognize, since you made them.
Sorry to be a bit of a wet towel on this but if you've played guitar for longer than 9 months a I-V-ii-vi progression in G is something you only do if you're an Oasis knockoff for ironic effect, or as a secret track filled with dick jokes at the end of your album. Then again I thought Donkey Punch was overrated, that Tally Hall just plain sucked, and if anyone of that generation was going to "make it" it oughtta be Six Clips, so what do I know?
I know Six Clips rocked.
What I don't know is how to play lacrosse, except in that it seems to be like hockey. But hey the Canadian sports haven't missed with me yet so let's learn this. Let's see, where would we find…oh hey look it's Brooks with the beginner's guide to the rules of lacrosse. [Read read read]. Sweet, I'm now familiar enough with the regs to criticize the refs and ready for some L-A-X. Let's see, where would we find a game…oh hey look it's MaizeAndBlueWahoo with the details for M's first televised lacrosse game (plus a long recap of the first game as varsity, a 13-9 loss to Detroit-Mercy in Pontiac). Surely it's some weekday when I can't...oh hey look it's right after the Spring Game in the Big House, and versus Ohio State. And there's to be a cup between the three Big Ten teams (PSU is the other). Now this is how you launch a new varsity sport!
In a Race to Pasadena, I'll Take the
Beamer BimmerHT. Your diarist of the week Eye of the Tiger has made 2012 Big Ten Football programs comparable to 2012 model automobiles #OnlyInMichigan. Each team gets a 2011 grade, a 2012 recruiting grade, and a predicted average wins for the next three years that doesn't seem to take into account some of the vast differences in schedule strengths. It also highlights the bitter unfairness of Ohio State's players only getting free Nissans this year when they're valued at Ferrari FFs. Michigan Team 133 is a controversial 2012 BMW M5. Controversial because people in the comments are enraged that he said the metaphorically Rich-Rod model was a naturally aspirated V10 but the V10 is really traditional so he must be saying Lloyd and Mo and Bo ran spread offenses, and Hoke isn't a safe V8 and...wow guys we really just found a way to drag performance engines into an RR argument. Seriously: #OnlyInMichigan!
Picture-Paging Brilliance. On TV the Treais goal when he put back his own rebound looked downright Datsyukian, but I was afraid it might seem less so when screen capped. Silly thing to fear:
All hail CenterIce for picture paging every goal against MSU last weekend.
Sugar Bowl Every Snap. Sugar Bowl Every Snap. He also surveys readers to ask who wants Brian to stop what he's doing and sacrifice two days of his life to thoroughly picking apart a game from six weeks ago that is only marginally related to this year's team. To this you respond "hell yes!" because Brian Cook is our personal UFR monkey.
Best of the Board
WHAT IS THE AIRSPEED VELOCITY OF A BE-DREADED SPREAD QUARTERBACK CARRYING AN OBLONG COCONUT?
- WHO is your favorite new MGoBoard poster (hint: it's the Bama guy)?
- WHICH old-tyme blogger do you miss the most?
- WHAT made you come to MGoBlog in the first place?
That last is the most interesting, from the guy who found the blogspot site left open on a fishbowl computer to the old guy who finally asked his kid "how do you know so much about the recruits?"
Starting pitcher Sara Driesenga was freshman of the week. Line? Line!
Line!!!! Sara, who by reports was born crying "Hail to the Victors," is also batting .500 so far (2 for 4). This is slightly worse than her high school career, when she had an ERA of 0.40, and a .504 career batting average. Let's pick it up Sara; this is MICHIGAN fergodsakes. Softball also picked up a touted southpaw recruit this week.
GET TO THE PART WITH KATE UPTON!
Etc. Discussing blooms from Brian's post on the Mattison clinic on whether this using the SAM on the wide side always is perhaps a bit unsound—from recollection teams that tried that last year were Illinois and Nebraska and it very didn't work. College Game Day is free FYI; in return for this information the OP let us know Denard liked his valentine song from up top. Sigh: Kate Upton. The countdown begins.
Great goalies past. An emailer brings up a name before my time:
As an alum who graduated in 1979, I would nominate Robbie Moore as a great UM goalie. If you think Hunwick is tiny, just check out the vitals and (lack of) padding on Moore. Robbie was one of the first entertainers at Michigan, earning cheers from the student section when he would hop atop the goal during timeouts and just sit there, swinging his legs back and forth.
His pro career appears to just be incredibly unlucky. I'm guessing he might have had a significant NHL stay if his rookie experience in the playoffs for the Flyers had gone just a bit better. The Flyers had to replace Parent, and Robbie just got on the wrong side of Pete Peeters and Pelle Lindbergh.
Yost wasn't tricked out in those days and UM was a solid program (made the frozen four in 76, I believe) but not a consistently great one. But Moore was a blast.
I think Hunwick should do the sit-on-the-goal thing. Probably tougher these days when the thing can come out from underneath you.
Besides stating the obvious, could you please explain the difference between four-year scholarships and one-year renewable scholarships? I have never heard of a coach just flat out cutting a guy for performance (publicly anyway). Even Saban gives his kids "medical" hardships instead of sending them on their merry way. Also, what happens in disciplinary cases? Do coaches still have the power to kick an athlete off the team for violating rules? And what would happen in cases like Tony Posada's last year (coming in out of shape)? Thanks in advance.
While you haven't heard about players getting flat-out cut for performance, they do in ways subtle and not. Certain transfers in search of playing time are undertaken with the understanding that not only playing time but a scholarship will be scarce in future years if the kid chooses to stick it out. St. Saban Memorial Hospital can only be pushed so far before it becomes ludicrous…
…and at some point after it becomes ludicrous the NCAA notices. Every year Saban has to shuffle some kids out the door. We never know who they are because they have no leverage and they don't want to rock the boat in case South Alabama is turned off. If those players suddenly have leverage we'll find out who they are (or more likely Saban will just continue to offer one year deals; at least then people going into their Alabama experience are explicitly warned).
As to what the functional differences are between one- and four-year scholarships, that is an implementation issue I haven't seen details about. Clearly there has to be some ability for coaches to cut players who fail out or sucker-punch a hockey player somewhere other than Michigan State. What those are have not been made clear. Given this post on the Bylaw Blog, I don't think that's a problem with publicity. It seems like no one is certain of the enforcement mechanism:
Key to the Big Ten’s oversigning limit is evaluating why scholarships are ending and judging whether schools should be able to replace that student-athlete with a new recruit. The stability and homogeneousness of the Big Ten’s membership has made this workable. Whether it remains workable in a larger conference with more fluid and diverse membership is questionable. And the idea of the NCAA running such an office sounds like a trap for the Association.
Without this evaluation, the oversigning limit is meaningless because a coach can simply clear out enough scholarships for whatever size class he wants by nonrenewing more current players before signing day.
This is the current situation. In the future, John Infante suggests multi-year scholarships would reduce the need for such an office. This would be the way things play out:
To clear roster space, a coach would have to find a permissible reason to cancel a scholarship during the period of award and complete the appeal process all prior to signing day. Adding in an exception if a coach grants permission to contact every Division I institution (an “unconditional release”) or pairing this oversigning limit with a transfer rule that granted a great deal of freedom to a student-athlete whose scholarship was cancelled would complicate matters, but would also discourage more roster turnover.
That transfer bit is a great idea—when a school voluntarily terminates a player's scholarship he should be able to transfer anywhere he wants and play immediately—but the definition of "permissible reason" is left unaddressed. Presumably academic washouts are amongst those. What level of legal trouble would be? MIPs? Traffic tickets? Minor possession beefs leading to probation?
As far as Posada goes, he left of his own volition and Michigan would likely be able to get his scholarship back. If he decided to stay and take advantage of his four-year scholarship he would have to participate in team activities, something he may not want to or be capable of doing. At that point the mutually beneficial solution would be to find a medical reason he should not participate. Like "I am very heavy."
Is that a satisfactory answer? No, not really. The NCAA has a lot of issues to hammer out. Again, virtually all of this would be solved by replacing the roster maximum with a yearly cap on new scholarship players.
Personal relationship with bowls.
With Michigan getting back to a BCS bowl this past season, I found
myself wondering about your personal stance on attending bowl games.
Considering your (justified) disdain for rich old dudes in yellow
blazers, I guess I always assumed that you avoided giving your
hard-earned cash to such operations. I certainly could have
overlooked it, but I don't recall you discussing your attendance at
the Sugar Bowl or any other bowl game since mgoblog's inception.
Then, in a recent UV column, you stated: "I'm probably not going to Dallas this year because I can get a generic NFL stadium experience at many bowl games."
I assume this was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but I figured the long
and boring football offseason is a good time to discuss this stuff:
(1) Which bowl games (Michigan or non-Michigan) have you attended?
The only bowl I have been to is the 2007 Rose Bowl. (The one against USC that was 3-3 at halftime and then ended 32-18.)
(2) Under what circumstances, if any, would you attend a Michigan
"bowl" game? National Championship game only (maybe only at the Rose
Bowl)? National Semi-Final right next door at Ford Field in Detroit
(assuming the system evolves/devolves that way)? Insight Bowl in
Tempe vs. Oklahoma (assuming you're already stuck in the desert on an
ill-fated family vacation, and tickets are $10)?
I'll be interested to hear you discuss some scenarios and your
rationale. I assume you attended, or at least really wanted to
attend, the 1998 Rose Bowl - but if you tell us you've attended every
bowl game since the mid-'90s there might be a collective "head
asplode" moment. Thanks for your work on the blog.
I strongly considered going to the Sugar Bowl but the timing did not work out well. The people I usually do these things with had work issues, my wife couldn't go because she is currently an adjunct at Michigan and classes started the day after. I had the option of flying down for one full day and thought that was not a good expenditure of money and time, especially because I'm expected to put out a ton of content in the vicinity of a football game. Without those annoying restrictions I probably would have taken the opportunity to hit up New Orleans.
The Rose Bowl moves the needle. I haven't gone to many in the past because I was an idiot ('98), a child (pre-'98) or being frugal (2004, 2005) just after exiting college. In the future I'll probably go to most Rose Bowls.
I can't imagine wanting to go to any other bowl. The problem is the locations. I have created a diagram to demonstrate.
(Los Angeles is debatable but the Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl.) I'm not the kind of person who finds happiness wandering around somewhere screaming "OH MY GOD IT'S WARM." I would go to a bowl game in Denver or Santa Fe because I could pack in some skiing around it—the Frozen Four in Denver was fantastic—but there aren't any Big Ten bowls in ski destinations. Northern California is the closest place that actually has a game. Unfortunately, the Big Ten's relentless insistence on making the cities the least appealing ones possible means the bonus parts of your trip are going to Epcot Center or… uh… whatever they do in Tampa. Orson says that's do meth and strip. Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Scottsdale are the Applebees of American cities. I can't think of any reason on earth to go to Houston or Dallas. It's bad when you lose San Antonio and your bowl destinations get worse.
My ideal bowl locations are in order: Denver, San Francisco, New York, Santa Fe, [NARRATOR CONTINUES FOR HOURS], a Vietnam WAR POW prison, a Honduran prison, Guantanamo Bay, Orlando. Since available destinations will forever be non-overlapping Venn diagram circles, it's the Rose or nothing unless Michigan makes a title game or gets sucked into the Sugar Bowl again.
Am I wrong about this? Is Orlando a fun place to go? Please advise.
Retro lingo revival.
I was reading this article about a "cyclorama" of the Battle of Gettysburg, and something caught my attention. Basically, a "cyclorama" was a giant painting (this one was four hundred feet long) displayed on the interior of a rotunda. The Gettysburg one was considered a masterpiece of the form and was hugely popular. Naturally, that success inspired copycats:
These pirated works were known as "buckeyes," a pejorative commonly applied to things of inferior quality and, in the art world, used for painters and their works aimed at the commercial market.
Surely this excellent 19th century definition could use a 21st century revival. For example, say you got a new phone that wasn't as good as your old phone. Instead of saying "It's a real piece of crap", you'd say "It's a real buckeye". Or instead of saying "my cheap sandals broke", you'd say "my buckeye sandals broke". Bing is a buckeye, as is ESPN the Magazine, examples abound. It'll take some getting used to, but I think we can bring this back.
As I was saying, the Big Ten's bowl destinations are all buckeyed up.
In preparation for Michigan's College Gameday-featured extravaganza against Ohio State on Saturday, I asked Sarah Hardy of Eleven Warriors a handful of questions about the Buckeye hoops squad. For a Buckeye, she provided some very insightful answers, which you can find below. I did a similar Q&A over at 11W; you can check that out here. Thank you to Sarah—who you can follow on Twitter @sarbucks—for taking the time to provide the OSU perspective on the game.
Other than free throw percentage (9th in the Big Ten), the Buckeyes don't appear to have a weakness. OSU's record supports this. Am I missing something?
Jon Diebler. Or, I should say, Ohio State is missing Jon Diebler. With him, this team could easily be undefeated. Instead, there’s no reliable outside shooter, and without that threat, it allows the defense to focus most of their efforts on Sullinger and, to a lesser extent, Buford. By forcing the opponent to account for him at all times, Diebler’s mere presence opened up the floor for his teammates.
Now, Ohio State’s most accurate three-point “specialists” are Sullinger (11/23) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (19/47), neither of whom attempts enough treys to make a significant impact. That really levels the playing field against a team with less talent but one that can score from behind the arc with regularity.
I'd ask about the Michigan State loss, but the Spartans are about as different a team as possible from the Wolverines. Illinois and Indiana did manage to beat Ohio State. What did they do to make that happen?
The Illinois game was one of those situations that OSU falls victim to at least once a season: an opposing player (Brandon Paul in this case) turns into an evil sorcerer for the night, and no matter how closely he is guarded, his black magic will not allow him to miss.
Still, it was a close match throughout and it ultimately came down to Ohio State’s Achilles’ Heel: three-pointers. They hit just 5/15 from downtown while the Illini were 11/18 (the Dark Lord alone was 8/10). At the end of the game, Paul came through with key shots and no one for the Buckeyes stepped up to do the same.
Against Indiana, they again couldn’t close it out, but the circumstances leading up to those final minutes were different than in the loss to Illinois. Visiting Assembly Hall, where refs must have PTSD from the days of Bobby Knight, Ohio State was getting called for ticky tack fouls that ended up dictating the game. Sullinger and Craft were both in foul trouble early, and in the second half, everyone was too scared to play defense, so they gave up an unusual amount of easy baskets.
Also, the Bucks were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, especially Craft with a career-high six turnovers.
In the first matchup, Michigan effectively limited Jared Sullinger by playing a lot of zone, which is unusual for the Wolverines. Have other teams deployed this strategy with any effectiveness, or do you see that as a one-time occurrence? Do you think Sullinger bounces back in this game?
Against Minnesota on Tuesday night, Tubby Smith switched to the zone after the Buckeyes went on an early 20-0 run. After that, Ohio State finished the first half with 8 points on 2/10 shooting. I checked with one of our lead basketball writers at 11W, Chris Lauderback, and we agreed that the main reason they struggle against the zone is because they start jacking up 3s, often unsuccessfully.
In January when these teams met, the zone helped limit Sullinger to 13 points and 5 rebounds. He was also in foul trouble early, so I have to believe Beilein will employ it again. It’s Michigan’s best bet to counter against someone who presents the kind of matchup problems that Sully does.
However, if the Minnesota game was any indication, he will play better this time around against the Wolverines. On Tuesday, he notched 23 points and 8 rebounds and even when Andre Hollins tossed an inbounds pass off his crotch, he wasn’t as visibly frustrated as he was versus the likes of Michigan and Michigan State.
I think most Wolverine fans are aware of Sullinger, Aaron Craft, and William Buford as being the main stars for OSU. Who else should Michigan watch out for on Saturday?
Lenzelle Smith Jr. came up huge the first time these two teams met (17 points, 12 rebounds). He has that jack-of-all-trades quality that made David Lighty such an invaluable member of the Buckeyes for all his 20 seasons. Like everyone except Sullinger and Craft, Smith is not always consistent, but he will the ability to emerge when his teams needs him.
While Deshaun Thomas is still a gunner, his shot selection is better this season than last, when his sometimes poor decision-making cost him playing time. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, and he’s erratic from behind the arc, but he’s proficient around the basket, grabbing boards and putting back missed shots.
Although Matta has gone with a deeper rotation than in years past, there’s usually not a lot of production from the bench unless the game is a blowout. Lately, freshman Sam Thompson has been the first one off the bench. Similar to almost every other player on the roster, he needs to work on his jump shot, but he’s extremely athletic and can block shots, hit the glass, and throw down glorious dunks. Even other teams’ fans seem to enjoy his gravity-defying moments.
How do you expect the Buckeyes will try to neutralize Michigan's offense, which is mostly predicated on getting to the hoop with screen-and-rolls and creating open three-pointers?
Last week, Mark Titus wrote a Grantland article that discussed how Ohio State’s defensive weakness is defending ball screens. Depending on the opponent, Matta uses a variety of strategies, which sometimes leads to information overload. Then, the defenders become out of sync with one another. In that case, they’re most susceptible to allowing open 3s or easy layups.
Still, Ken Pomeroy ranks them #1 in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. Matta will probably stick with the same strategy he used the first time against UM, when they only put up 49 points. He’s a simple Midwestern man, so for him, if It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I'll ask the same potentially-blasphemous question you asked me: If you could add one Wolverine to the Buckeye roster, who would it be?
I want to say Trey Burke, just so Michigan wouldn’t have him on the roster for another three years, but I don’t know where he’d play. While Aaron Craft does not have the same offensive production as Burke, I wouldn’t trade him for any other PG in the country. His inimitable defense means that Matta trusts him more than anyone else, so he doesn’t come off the floor much.
Really, what Ohio State needs is someone who is experienced and can make shots from long range. As difficult as this is to admit, and I may be ostracized from the OSU community for doing so, I guess I’d have to go with Zack Novak. He’s a senior utility man connecting on 43.3% of his three-pointers, and he’s stout on the defensive end, too.
Piggybacking off that last answer, do you think Thad Matta made a huge error by not recruiting Trey Burke? Note: Michigan fans will believe this regardless of your answer.
Again, I’d love it if Burke were wearing Scarlet and Gray, if only to keep him away from the Wolverines, but I don’t think Matta had much of a choice in the matter. There are only so many spots on the roster, and Craft, just a sophomore, is a four-year player. Shannon Scott pledged to become a Buckeye early on, and it wasn’t until after when Burke really started making a name for himself.
At this point, it’s hard to compare Scott and Burke because Michigan has asked the latter to do much more, and to his credit, he’s responded. In the offseason, Scott needs to work on his offensive game, and then maybe we’ll see him on the court with Craft more next year.
Even though he decided to play for The Team Up North, an epithet I guess we have readopted, I harbor no ill will toward Burke. He’s a hometown kid who probably would have played for Ohio State in a heartbeat. There was just no room for him.
Is there really any way you see Ohio State losing this game? What's your prediction, and how do you expect the game to play out?
Especially on the road, Ohio State is hardly infallible. Michigan absolutely has a chance of winning, particularly if they’re hitting their 3s because most likely, Ohio State won’t be able to counter from distance.
At Minnesota, Buford and Sullinger each came up huge, and while I’m not predicting 20+ points from them, I think both will score more than they did last time against the Wolverines. As for UM, I imagine they’ll also be more effective on the offensive side. Someone, probably Hardaway or Novak, will decide to shoot lights out.
Given that Michigan has a perfect home record this season and has played Ohio State tough in recent years in Ann Arbor, I’ll call a close game. A loss is certainly possible, but I already said something complimentary about Novak and I’d have to turn in my Buckeye card if I picked the Wolverines, too: Ohio State 66, Michigan 62
Via Craig Ross, impressions from the signing day press conference.
Kyle Kalis: looks like an initial shot at RT according to Darrell Funk. No particular reason, he might end up elsewhere, but my impression is that Funk thinks this might be the best place for him to push for PT this year.
OL recruits. Funk says without hesitation that these are the best four he has ever had in a class in one year. All are possible/plausible to get to the 320 pound range. All “are big and can run, bend, move and play hard.” Funk emphasizes the “bend” element, looking for big guys who aren’t stiff. Funk says none of these guys seems destined for center, but doesn’t rule it out.
Nature of Evaluation. I asked Funk and Mark Smith about the nature of evaluation of players. Both said that the process is collaborative. That coaches tend to watch film together and/or ask others about his impressions of a player. Funk says he isn’t trump on any player. If he likes a player he has to convince others on the staff. Sometimes he is looking at an OL and notices a DL and passes this along.
While the “area” recruiter might be the first contact with a player, by the time the recruiting is over a recruit will know the position coach and “just about every, sometimes every” coach on the staff.
The Staff. While I often felt there were some outliers on the RR staff (I could be wrong, but Shafer really seemed disconnected), these coaches seem quite tight, quite collegial. They like each other and Borges, Hoke, Mattison, Funk, Hecklinski, Smith, Jackson and Mallory seem very comfortable with the media. These are the ones I have talked to. Borges was teasing Hecklinski as they left the building together, calling him a “media darling, a rock star.” I really like Funk and Smith (the ones I have talked to most). They are very smart, articulate, comfortable answering dopey questions and thoughtful questions. Hoke made some effort to recognize Mark Snyder and Rosenberg (pretty sure it was Mike) and that seems like a pretty good idea to me.
AJ Williams. He is listed as a TE and I wondered about the “talk” that he will end up at tackle. I asked Funk. He was definitive. “He’s a tight end.” Funk said “he can catch the ball, but we really need help at the point of attack at the TE spot and he’s a guy who might have some opportunity to play right away.” The message was clear (a) we need help at TE now, especially in the run game, (b) we sure as hell hope this kid can step up there soon and (c) no, we don’t have any thought of moving him away from the TE spot.
LBs. Smith says Ringer and Bolden are ILB but all four have the capacity to play inside or outside.
Pickerington (OH) North tight end Jake Butt recently was named as the #96 overall prospect in the Rivals250, and he's seen his recruitment take off in recent weeks. Butt now holds offers from Michigan, Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, and a handful of MAC schools while also generating interest from Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. I caught up with Jake this week to talk about his recruitment, top schools, and upcoming visit to Michigan:
ACE: How many offers are you up to at this point, and which schools have been in contact with you the most lately?
JAKE: I'm up to 18 offers, and the most contact I've been getting is from Michigan—I've gotten a lot of stuff [from them]—Tennessee, Northwestern, Purdue, Maryland, and Iowa.
ACE: You've said that Michigan was your leader in the past. If you had to make a top five right now, which teams stand out to you the most?
JAKE: My top five would have to be Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan, Tennessee, and Stanford. Michigan I'd say is my leader just because of the attention I've been getting from all the coaches, and they said I'm the number one tight end on their board. They've got the number one quarterback in our class committed, Shane Morris, he's a beast. There's just a lot of plusses going on with them. But it's still early, so it's all subject to change.
ACE: You mentioned Shane Morris. Has he been making his recruiting pitch at all to you, and if so, what's he telling you?
JAKE: Yeah, I've been talking to him a lot. He's got like 6,000 followers [on Twitter], so he'll tweet me and get all his little followers, Michigan fans, to really show their love. [They'll say] "I want to see you break records with Shane Morris when you go there," or "I want to see you catching touchdown passes from Shane," and stuff like that. I'm going to be going up [to Michigan] this Saturday and he's supposed to be there with some other recruits.
ACE: I know you've been to Michigan a couple times before. Is there anything specific you're going to be looking for this weekend?
JAKE: No, just kinda getting to know my position coach, Coach Ferrigno, a little bit better, spend a bit of time with him. Then get to see the campus, talk to some of the academic advisors, just kinda get a feel for what life is like up there.
ACE: You mentioned the coaches talking about using you as a tight end. I know with Michigan they use their tight ends in multiple ways. Do the coaches talk a lot about what your role would be like there?
JAKE: They said that they could use me at multiple position. They could use me anywhere from receiver, with a foot on the line, tight end with my hand down, or fullback even. They have a U-back and a Y-back, something like that, they have two different tight ends and they said I could play either, so I'll be playing both if I go there.
ACE: What else have the coaches been telling you when they're recruiting you?
JAKE: Different little things like "I can't wait to see you in the blue and gold," or "you'd look great in the winged helmet." They sent me an article about some of their top tight ends that they've had. Five different coaches have come down to the school, and I've talked to five different coaches by myself, too, so they're showing a lot of love there.
ACE: I've seen a concern among Michigan fans after you said the Wolverines were your leader, and that's with you not holding an Ohio State offer yet. Growing up as a Buckeye fan, if Ohio State were to come into play, how do you think that would change the landscape of your recruitment?
JAKE: You know, Ohio State is definitely a great school. They've got a lot of good things to offer. Urban Meyer is a great coach. That being said, there's a lot of great coaches out there and there's a lot of great programs out there. I like the fact that I got early offers and my early offers definitely stand out having thought of me on top of their list. I wouldn't worry about if from some of the fans's standpoint, I guess, because I'm going to pick my early offers over my late offers any day.
ACE: You just mentioned the early offers being important. When it comes down to making a decision, what else are going to be the main factors when you ultimately decide on a school?
JAKE: The early offers are kind of like a tiebreaker, it's not that big of a deal. Definitely academics is a big deal, having a good football program with a good tradition is a big deal. Then somewhere my parents want me to go. Someone told me that you want to pick a college where if you were to get hurt playing football, you can see yourself living there without football in your life, so that's another factor.
ACE: Other than coming up to Michigan this weekend, do you have any other planned visits or schools you'd want to check out?
JAKE: As of right now I don't. I'm just waiting for basketball season to end before I take other visits, but I'm going to have to get down to some schools because some schools won't give you an offer unless you show you're willing to make the trip down there, so I'll be going to some other schools too.
ACE: In terms of a timeline for when you'd want to get your recruitment wrapped up, do you know when that would be?
JAKE: Probably before next football season I'd like to get it done, but if not, I can wait until after.
ACE: How's basketball season going for you?
JAKE: Pretty good. I'm the leading scorer and rebounder for our team. I think I lead our team in steals, too, so it's going pretty good. Our team as a whole is kinda underachieving, but that being said, I set the bar high for us. I'm the only guy returning with experience right now. We had ten seniors last year, so we lost all of them, and those were our top ten guys other than me, I was the sixth man off the bench. We really don't have any experience coming back, but we're 11-8 right now and we've got a tough game coming up on Friday, too.
ACE: Just to go away from the football field and the basketball court for a second, what's one thing about yourself—whether it's a hobby that you've got outside of sports or whatever—what's something outside of sports that you think people would like to know about you?
JAKE: I'm a leader. I've been selected, not for sports, but for other activities, for leadership conferences. As a sophomore I was one out of four kids in our school that got to go to a leadership conference at Ohio State, and I got selected to a school leadership program called Sunny Side Up in our group where you have to get nominated by teachers other students from your school to go there. You get a three-day trip where you go down you get to do different things, leadership-building activities and such, so I got to do that.
ACE: It sounds like that would obviously translate well to the field and help you there.
JAKE: Yes, sir.
Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton is coming off an extremely impressive junior season, and his recruitment is beginning to gain steam as a result. Standing at 6'2", 290 pounds, Crayton currently holds offers from Arizona, Auburn, FAU, Louisville, LSU, Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Penn State, and Washington State. He's one of several top-flight visitors who will be in Ann Arbor this weekend, and he's expecting to get some big news when he's on campus:
ACE: First of all, what schools have been showing interest in you lately?
ROD: LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, FAU, Memphis, Louisville, Michigan, Penn State, Washington State, and Arizona, and also Auburn and Alabama.
ACE: Talking about Michigan specifically, have they offered you, and do you have any plans to come up and visit?
ROD: I'm visiting Michigan on Sunday. They tell me they have some good news for me when I come up there, so I'm expecting an offer.
ACE: Who are you talking to from Michigan?
ROD: Coach Montgomery.
ACE: When you come up to visit, what are you going to be looking for in terms of checking out the school?
ROD: I'm just going to see how it is. See the campus, see the coaches and get to know them a little bit. See how everything is up there.
ACE: Going back to your junior season, how do you think you performed on the field, and what kind of numbers did you put up?
ROD: I did pretty good. I had 162 tackles and 11 sacks.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself as a player, what would you say are your biggest strengths and what are you looking to improve for your senior season and the next level?
ROD: To improve, I have to stay low. My strengths are working with my hands, pushing back the pocket, and making plays down the line of scrimmage.
ACE: Do you know what schools you'd like to check out over the offseason?
ROD: I'm actually going to Penn State on Saturday, then Michigan on Sunday.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline of when you'd like to make a commitment?
ROD: That's not gonna be any time soon. I'm trying to [take some visits first].
ACE: What are going to be the main factors that you're looking for when it comes down to picking a school?
ROD: Somewhere where I feel comfortable at, where I've got a good relationship with the coach, and where I can play at—I want to go somewhere that best fits me.