Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Breneman is one of the most sought-after prospects in all of the 2013 class at a position of major need for Michigan. The junior already holds offers from Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Breneman's early rankings reflect that impressive list of suitors, as he is on the ESPN150 Watch List and already ranked as a four-star to Scout and 24/7, with the latter listing him as the #32 overall prospect and top tight end in the class. I had the chance to chat with Adam yesterday, and here's a full transcript of the interview:
ACE: You just committed to participating in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game. What does that mean for you to be honored as one of the top recruits in your class?
ADAM: It's really exciting, and it's a great honor to be wanted by both the elite all-star games, the Army Game and the Under Armour Game. It's a huge blessing to be asked to participate on those big stages, and it was a really tough decision for me and my family, to decide whether I was going to play in the Army Game or the Under Armour Game. At the end of the day, I thought that the UA Game was the best place for me to go to, and I wanted to commit to a game before this year's game since I got early invitations, so I decided that it would be best for me and my family to go down to Orlando to play.
ACE: In terms of your recruitment, I know you've got offers from, well, just about everywhere right now. I won't make you run through all of them, but what schools are contacting you the most right now, and who's standing out to you?
ADAM: I don't really have a top schools list yet. Some of the schools that I think pretty highly of right now would be Maryland, Virginia, Miami, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Alabama, just to name some of the ones that I've been in pretty constant contact with, and I've developed some pretty good relations with those coaches. It's still very early in the process for me, I'm nowhere close to narrowing anything down yet, but those are some of the schools that have gotten off to a good start. There are quite a few places, and I don't have a timetable at all, but those are some of the schools that have definitely gotten off to a great start.
ACE: With Michigan specifically, who has been in contact with you from them, and what is your general impression of the coaching staff, the school, and the program?
ADAM: Coach Montgomery is the defensive line coach—last spring, when I was a sophomore, he came to my high school to visit. He offered me then, he told me that they had seen my tape and they wanted to offer me. My recruiter is Curt Mallory, Coach Montgomery just happened to be in Pennsylvania and stopped by the school, but I've developed a good relationship with Coach Mallory. I talk to him quite a bit. Actually, I'd say probably a month ago I had, I guess you'd call it a conference call, with the coaching staff, and I talked with Coach Hoke for a while. That was the first time I got a chance to talk to him, and he seems like an awesome guy and it's just great to see what he's done at Michigan so far in a short period of time.
ACE: Just to talk about your junior year real quickly, can you recap how the year went for you, where you felt you got better on the field, just how the season went for you this year?
ADAM: We finished 9-3 on the year. We lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to the state champion, lost by three points. When we look back on it, we play in the biggest classification in Pennsylvania, but we're actually the smallest school in that classification, so to do what we did, there's a lot of things to be proud of that we accomplished as a team this year. Individual-wise, I made first-team all-state, I finished the year with 72 catches for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns, and making first-team all-state was one of my goals at the beginning of the year. Team-wise and personal-wise, it was a great year and certainly an exciting year.
ACE: If you had to do a self-scouting report, what would say are the strengths of your game right now, and what are you working on to get better for your senior year and on to the next level?
ADAM: I think in the receiving aspect I'm very good at the tight end position. I play a lot of wide receiver in high school—I think I actually have the ability of a wide receiver but I'm in a tight end's body. I pride myself in never dropping passes and beating linebackers one-on-one—it's just a lot of little things, running routes the right way, those are some of the things that I work really hard at. Moving forward, right now I'm about 6'5", 220, which is fairly thin for a tight end, so obviously moving on to the next level I'd like to put on some more weight, get stronger, and become the kind of tight end that can put his hand in the dirt and block. I do a good amount of blocking in high school, but obviously when you get to the next level the players are a lot bigger and a lot stronger, so just moving forward I'd like to just let my body develop more, put on some more weight, which I'll probably do naturally. I'm only 16 years old, so I'll probably put on a good bit of weight in the next couple of years, and I'll become a better blocker.
ACE: In terms of the offseason for you right now, do you have any idea, in terms of junior days and camps, places you'd like to visit before your senior year?
ADAM: Nothing is scheduled at all yet, nothing finalized. I know that I'll be going to Maryland for a basketball game and I'll definitely be visiting Miami—I haven't visited there yet, so I'll be going to Miami for a visit with my family. I'm about 95% sure I'll be coming up to Michigan, too. I don't know if I'll be doing a junior day or just a normal visit, but I'll be up there. Whether it's in February or in the spring I don't know yet, but we'll definitely be out there.
ACE: You said you don't have a timeline or anything right now, but in terms of just what you're looking for in a school, what are the ideal traits that you're looking for when it comes down to picking a school?
ADAM: A big thing for me is the kind of offense that I'd be playing in. Actually, it's not so much the kind of offense, but how I'll fit in to the offense. I love catching the ball, I love having the football in my hands, and I want to go to a school that's going to allow me to do that and allow me to be a playmaker from the tight end position, so I definitely want to play for a coach that has a history of tight ends and has a history of throwing the tight end the ball. Another thing is academics. Academics are a big part of my life—I carry a 3.9 GPA, so I take academics very seriously and I want to go to a place that's going to prepare me for life after football. Third of all, definitely the relationship that I have with the coaching staff—I'm going to be spending a lot of time with those guys, and if we don't get along it's going to be a long four years. That's definitely important, and just a place that fits me best athletically, spiritually, and academically, just having everything fit me in all three of those areas, that's where I'll wind up.
Just in time for me to rend my garments about a Merrill non-return and add a "jon merrill's infinite suspension" tag, various players hop on twitter to say he'll be on the ice tonight. Via Michigan Hockey Net:
Just moments ago freshman Travis Lynch tweeted:
Big game tonight against Lake Superior State. Jonny is back!
That was followed up by freshman Alex Guptill tweeting:
The three most feared words in hockey. Jonny. Is. Back.
Thank Beesus. May we sting our way to a better future.
LEFT: Nittany the Lion drinks hemlock. RIGHT: why Tom Bradley is not an option.
DEAREST PENN STATE NITT-ANY LION FANS,
I am a fan of Michigan, a team that used to be in your conference. I have just been informed that due to unapproved activities involving… well, nevermind what the activities involve. That's not really the issue here.
The issue is that longtime coach Joe Paterno was ignominiously forced out after at least six years as the head coach at Penn State, and that many people who remember this halycon half decade or so are peevish that unapproved activities have led to the firing of the hallowed JoePa. You probably know this bit.
The activities are so unapproved that they have irradiated the rest of the coaching staff with fatal doses of public relations. Coaches at other schools not currently suffering fatal doses of PR are so leery about getting irradiated themselves that they refuse to take millions of dollars to coach a football program that's still in a pretty damn good spot long term.
So the Penn State administration hired one of the more tenuous branches off the sickly Belichick coaching tree in the full expectation he'll fail massively, and soon. They would have hired Charlie Weis but—and you're probably not going to believe this—someone beat them to it. I know. Funny ol' world. They would have hired Ron Zook but Ron Zook is a chronic disease. So they hired some guy unreassuringly named Bill O'Brien who sponsors a bowl in St. Petersburg.
Do not look on Bill O'Brien as a head coach. Bill O'Brien is pickled ginger. Like the snake at the base of the tree that holds up the world, you have just finished consuming the largest piece of nigiri ever made. It was made of yourself. There's more, but for the full experience you must spend the next three to five years cleansing and preparing your palate.
Do not regard Bill O'Brien as a person who can succeed or fail. He is doomed. You will put him in your mouth and gnaw on him and once you swallow him and dissolve him in your stomach acids you can get on with things. Bill O'Brien is football pickled Jesus ginger. He will die for your sins… someone's, anyway.
Prepare thine heart for a messy one-way divorce. You may think Penn State is a school. You may have attended it, and loved it, and thought of the football program as the bit of the iceberg above the water: the most accessible part of your much greater love for the institution as a whole.
This must be true. I have been to State College in the summer, when no one is around. It is pretty. There are bars there with good microbrews in which weird cover bands play as you try to determine whether the sax guy is literally a muppet or just impossibly muppet-like. It is an outcrop of something in the middle of nowhere, easy to fall in love with.
Unfortunately, you're about to find out that a lot of your favorite people on the iceberg think Penn State is literally one dude. Lavar Arrington:
"I will put my Butkus (Award) in storage. I will put my Alamo Bowl MVP trophy in storage," Arrington said. "Jerseys, anything Penn State, in storage. Wherever Tom Bradley goes, that's the school I will start to put memorabilia up in my home. I'm done. I'm done with Penn State. If they're done with us, I'm done with them."
Brandon Short [ibid]:
"I don't want to be affiliated with the university if they don't choose a Penn State guy because of our standards, our graduation, all the things that have been important... it's no longer Penn State, so we might as well be in the SEC. They are intent on turning it into a booster culture. Ira Lubert went out and purchased a national title with wrestling and he's under the illusion that he can do that in football. Well, ask (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder about that."
"Penn State is a family and it is real and if they choose to get rid of Bradley and not hire a Penn State coach, then they've turned their backs on our entire family."
“I feel badly for him (because) he is clueless and will not have the support of the majority of the Lettermen. This is a hornet’s nest (for him).”
There is no one in the world who did not play for members of the Penn State coaching staff who believes anyone on staff during the time in which the unapproved activities occurred can stay at PSU. Instead of acknowledging this reality, certain players you loved are going to firebomb the program until Football Pickled Jesus Ginger is gone and someone with a tangential relationship to Paterno is found, whereupon they will say they knew it all along. They will not acknowledge their contributions to the situation.
This is going to piss you off and sour some of your fond memories. Nothing can change this, but you can be prepared. Latch on to the current players, who have done nothing other than not leave when they maybe should.
Look… just… don't. You may be inclined to say something about the enormous hissy fit being thrown by certain players as indicative of the problems with the culture that got you in this spot in the first place. This is probably not a good idea even if you secretly think it's true.
Don't extrapolate your problems across the whole of college football since your worldview has been so jaundiced that hope and joy experienced by others only serves to reinforce the existentialist dread that overwhelms your existence. Looking at you, Weinreb.
In lieu of on-field substance prepare for cheesy pro-style stadium exper— oh, right, I see you've got this one covered. Let's form a support group. I need help coping with these things.
MANTRAS FOR HOPE. It is not going to be fun. By saying these things over and over again you might find some modicum of serenity:
- Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno. Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno. Our offensive coordinator is not Jay Paterno.
- How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten. How hard can it be to win in the Big Ten.
- At least we're not Notre Dame. At least we're not Notre Dame. At least we're not Notre Dame.
Good luck, and godspeed.
It is alive. A month ago, Michigan's tourney streak was dead and buried after an appalling skid the likes of which Michigan hasn't endured since Red revived the program in the mid-80s. Since then a four-point weekend against MSU and a surprising GLI championship have turned their pairwise fortunes 90 degrees. Try this on for size: if the season ended today, Michigan would be in. There's another 90 degrees to go, but that's good work for two weekends.
Video from the stands gets a great look at the Moffie-Clare connection that won the State game at about the 3:10 mark:
I missed all but the last ten minutes of the BC game because I was at Crisler. Yost Built has your recap. Michigan played well in the first, built a lead, got blown out of the water in the second before Treais scored against the run of play late, and then strangled the third. The ten minutes I did see were pleasingly dull.
The day after, Michigan played an even game with State. Trailing 2-1 with under a minute left and up a man, Luke Moffatt flung a cross ice pass to one of the sundry Lynches on the team, who deflected it in. In overtime Hunwick saved Michigan's bacon three times before the above transpired.
The Situation (Not That Situation)
The pairwise is a very silly metric that bounces hither and thither even when it has most of a season's worth of data, so no grand conclusions should be drawn just yet. The pairwise is also heavily slanted towards RPI, a metric that's still pretty silly but is far more projectable now that the vast bulk of nonconference games are out of the way. Now that they are, well, remember how they put in a rule that you couldn't finish below .500 and still make the tournament because of the WCHA? This year the CCHA is the WCHA:
The CCHA is 40-12-5 out of conference so far this year, for a winning percentage of 0.746. Even terrible Bowling Green, who is 1-11-2 in conference, went 5-0-1 in nonconference play, which helps everyone else in the conference.
That was before the holiday tourneys, FWIW.
Let's have a poke at RPI. Michigan is currently in a swamp of four teams separated by a couple thousandths that stretch from 10th to 13th. Their brutal schedule down the stretch is 14 games. Two of them are against BGSU. The remainder are series against #1 OSU, #4 ND, #8 NMU, #10 MSU, #15 LSSU, and inexplicably .500 Miami.
This is good and bad. Michigan can maintain its RPI at its current level by going .500 down the stretch, which will put them on the bubble. Win nine of 14 games and Michigan's RPI will slide up the 6-8 range. That is lock territory.
Michigan's in a much better spot than they were a couple years ago when they were 10-10 after the GLI. They had little room for error, used all of it and more, and only made the tourney after scraping out a conference tourney win. That team wasn't addressing its biggest weakness with the best defenseman in college hockey, though, and they weren't playing in a league the algorithm looked upon favorably.
The Other Situation (The Wall Punching One)
Is this team addressing their biggest weakness with the best defenseman in college hockey? When Jon Merrill's mysterious suspension was mysteriously extended to a mysterious end date, everyone assumed he would be back for this weekend's LSSU series and the stretch run. That is apparently not the case:
Merrill will NOT play this weekend per Red this morning
Didn't sound super optimistic the kid will be back anytime soon either. Might have to push his ETA back to late January.
Fantastic. We still have no idea what Merrill's issue is, no idea when he'll return, no idea why he's still in Ann Arbor when he's apparently never going to get back on the ice again. It's not academic or Merrill would be eligible now. It's not legal or someone would have run across a public document of it by now. It's not serious enough to put off USA Hockey when they were selecting the WJC team, but it's serious enough to force Merrill out of 2/3rds of a season and counting. ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH. Red is Red. He is the program. He knows what he's doing. I will remain calm.
So here we are. If Merrill ever gets back I'd guess the pairings end up like so:
That's three pairings with one offensive and one defensive player and no Brennan Serville, a guy who has struggled immensely in his transition to college hockey. Early in the year I thought Clare's footspeed would see him eat bench in the distant future when robots ruled the world and Merrill was eligible again, but the coaches clearly have more faith in him at this point. During Michigan's dismal slide, Serville was more or less directly responsible for two goals in a particular first period and sat out until midway through the third. He'll probably rotate through from time to time when Moffie or Clare has a shaky outing; a regular shift is unlikely.
If the above looks pretty good, without Merrill it's the same story we've seen so far this year: a pretty good top pairing, a somewhat reliable elderly freshmen, and after that terror, alarm, and Lee Moffie's assist machine.
Silver lining: Merrill must be planning on coming back for his junior year given the above. I mean, right?
The Forwards (Eh)
Michigan's stats are bizarre. They're fifth in the country with 3.55 goals per game but have no one averaging a point per game; leading scorer Chris Brown is tied for 79th nationally with 6-12-18 and is the only guy in the top 100 at College Hockey Stats.
The game with ALL OF THE GOALS (all of the goals)
If it doesn't feel like they're fifth in scoring, this is largely attributable to the distribution of the goals. In one game against St. Lawrence, Michigan poured in ten. Excise that from the stats and they fall to 17th nationally… which also seems high. It is less eyepopping. Since their season-opening tomato cans they've averaged exactly 3 goals per game with four outings in which they managed only one. That's why anyone running across Michigan's place in the scoring ranks is set for a double take.
As for individuals, it's hard to pick out any for attention. What is Michigan's top line? I don't know, you don't know. M had Andrew Sinelli out there for the GLI with Moffatt and Hyman… is that a fourth line? What is that?
These days the nominal top line is Brown-Wohlberg-Guptill, which sounds like just another bunch of dudes but does have the three top-scoring forwards on the team. Whoever is playing with Phil Di Giuseppe is the second line. Lindsay Sparks has eaten bench the last four games after his production fell off; he still has more points in 18 games than Lynch, Deblois, Glendening, and Hyman have in 21 or 22. He is not notably more deficient on D than the rest of the team. I will never understand his deployment, especially when Michigan's power play is terrible.
Positives and negatives are hard to throw out there when you're not sure who is supposed to be what. Glendening is a senior captain who spent much of the year on the top line and he has eight points. That would be disappointing if it wasn't obvious he was going to be a guy with about eight points at midseason. PDG has stopped producing after a torrid start; that would be disappointing if he had much help from his linemates and wasn't a shiny penny found in the depths of the OPJHL.
Two freshmen forwards are clearly deviating from expectations in one direction or another: Alex Guptill is deservedly on the top line and has more goals (9) than any other Wolverine. He's a big guy with enough mobility to make his size relevant and puts in a bunch of effort on most shifts. Zach Hyman hasn't been bad, per se, but I keep waiting for him to Do Something. He hasn't and has limped his way to a 2-6-8 and the worst +/- on the team. He's an older guy, too, so if he doesn't start producing soon he's not likely to ever become a star.
As for upperclassmen, there aren't many. Brown, Lynch, Glendening and Wohlberg are playing at about the levels you'd expect. Treais has become more of a chance-generator but is still more Shouneyia than Cammalleri. Sparks is hated by all coaches everywhere, even that guy at Colorado School of Mines. That no one has stepped up to Rohlfs/Scooter/Lebler levels this season is a collective disappointment. Michigan has had a big old guy take a leap forward just about every year. Not so much this one.
Special Teams (Terrible)
Hey, speaking of: Michigan's special teams are not good. Their power play has finally given up the ghost and languishes at 41st nationally with just 14 goals in 86 attempts. (Miami, miraculously, is worse at 44th. What happened to the Redhawks?) They are killing penalties at an 80% rate, 38th nationally and worst in the CCHA.
While special teams have not been a consistent strength for Michigan in a while, the power play especially, they seem to have no plan at all this year. They did get much better movement in the GLI—I bet they spent a lot of practice time on doing something other than shooting it into a defenseman's knee from the point.
As for the PK, it was a testament to how great Hagelin and Rust were that they kept their head above water the past couple years. Hunwick's weaknesses are magnified when shorthanded. Opponents are more likely to get to copious rebounds, more likely to get the cross-ice motion that either exposes big chunks of the net or forces Hunwick to stay deep enough in his net for his size to be a problem. It's not a surprise they're bad when they have to deal with that and don't have the best defensive forward in college hockey.
This bad? Probably not.
Hunwick's maintaining a decent .917 save percentage that sees him at 26th nationally. This is a step back from his blazing junior year partially attributable to a regression in his play and partially Michigan's intense focus on executing defensive breakdowns. He's still a guy you can win with.
I was much happier when Merrill was going to be back this weekend. I'm not sure this team can hack through the upcoming schedule without him.
(Quick note: offseason OT rules now in effect)
In the MGoBlog Diaries section the Wolverine fan base is represented by two equally important groups: the stat-heads who investigate college football, and the fan-boys who celebrate their achievements. These are their stories.
And we're back. It's been a few weeks since a DD column. I used my MGoVacation to watch L&O marathons and a few bowl games with funny names while the denizens focused on more important things, which are Michigan football things.
Fortunately these had a happy year. AC1997 tried to contextualize this 11-2, BCS bowl-winning season of ours (feel free to repeat that sentence a few times before moving on). The thing has a chart, and a bolded alter ego to introduce it. He also created something called a "VASAV" score which sounds like a cool sabermetric acronym but is really just named after the user who suggested a super-simple scoring system for BCS/Rose Bowl seasons by fan satisfaction. 1997 was a 4.0; this was a 1.5.
Da-dum, duh duh duh duh dunnnnnnnn…[electric piano, clarinet, clarinet, bass guitar]
Man Lennie, you are dark sometimes. So Michigan murdered this season, but considering where this program was just 12 months ago, how did such a thing happen? Well we can check the box scores by ST3 – it looks like he's got an entire season in there, right? Or it could be just a bunch of Iron Maiden songs.
Fortunately WolverineBlue has been down in the lab, conducting an autopsy of the Toussaint touchdown that wasn't against Ohio State. Like every other L&O autopsy report, it is unbelievably thorough and straightforward, presenting such a wealth of information if this wasn't for television that would be 90% of the case solved right there. As it is, this forensic analysis proves Fitz should have been ruled
in Edit: down 1/2 in short. Virginia Tech fans with screen capture got nothin' on this Diarist of the Weeks (plural):
The other Diarist of the Weeks is JeepinBen who looked into the personnel on hand and being recruited for Mattison's defense and in a sudden twist of realization, saw that if you look at it like a 3-4 defense instead of a 4-3, just one big guy named Ondre plus lots of linebackers and ends all make sense!
A couple of diaries meant as previews to the Sugar are still relevant to our investigation here. The one by cps2010 is excellent for advanced readers looking to understand the weird-ass, corner-dependent defense that V-Tech runs. Steve Sharik once spent over an hour and a half trying to explain this very defense to me before saying "Michigan will never run it," but you never know when you'll be in a situation where you'll have to quickly execute a base Cover 4 robber. If you plan to re-watch the Sugar Bowl, I highly recommend you read this, then watch Hosley and appreciate how good he is. Also still useful is the extensive head-to-head-ing by CollegeFootball13 between M's season and VT's. And monuMental made a beautiful background:
If you want more evidence, Boyz n da Pahokee flipped the video over to us. Before some a-hole lawyer from you-know-where calls it inadmissible, get your Sugar Bowl Replay, Sugar VOAV, Sugar Preview, 2011 Offensive Highlights, and 2011 Defensive Highlights. So much good stuff in there, from the Herron TDs, to "GUN-der the lights" while wearing a DL, a Roundtree and a WHAAT?, and Robinson eating all that soup, and Jibreel finally corralling Braxton Miller on 3rd and goal.
After the jump, the real McCoy takes it to trial, and the board celebrates FESTIVUS!
[Captions located below images]
The French Quarter was flooded with Michigan and Virginia Tech fans for most of game day. I walked down Bourbon Street to take some photos of the fanfare.
"Sugar Bowl Headquarters" on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. If true, would explain a lot.
These street musicians didn’t play jazz, but bluegrass is basically the blues. Right? No? The guy in the middle hails from Grand Rapids.
Michigan fans enjoying the view. Pretty sure that woman is/was a dude.
And for something completely familiar, Michigan sorority girls on their way to …
Rick’s (American) Cabaret.
(more after the jump)
File under "Phil Knight is an immature wheel of cheese." Since you are not related to someone on West Virginia's football team you did not see the Orange Bowl postgame—or the second half—and thus could not boggle at Nike's latest foray into puns a six-year-old thinks are played out:
I'm just like… man. Man. Democracy is over. When can we be ruled by machines? Is it soon? I hope it's soon.
The mind further reels at the notion that there's another one of these things left and Nike has already used their finest Def Leppard reference. What's left? "SHOW ME YOUR TITTLES" is left. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
BONUS: how about that dynamic offense in Morgantown winning a BCS game? We should hire that Holgorsen chap, I think. What could go wrong?
Just one more time, six more times. Hinton's sworn off shooting the rapidly cooling corpse of the BCS but can't help pointing out that no matter the outcome of the game I probably won't bother to watch, Alabama cannot have a better season than LSU:
With a win in the title game, the Crimson Tide will finish the year 12-1 with two wins over teams ranked in the final polls, none of them from outside of the SEC. With a loss, LSU will finish 13-1 with four or five wins over teams ranked in the final polls (give or take West Virginia [ED: that would be take]), four of them coming outside of Baton Rouge and two of them coming against fellow conference champions (West Virginia and Oregon) who are also playing in BCS bowls. The Tigers and Tide would be be 1-1 against one another, with LSU's win coming at Alabama. LSU will still be the champion of the division and the conference.
In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season.
Every game counts except the national title game. Whenever you think the BCS has reached its maximum cockup level, just wait two years. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Possibilities:
- Alabama versus LSU
- LSU versus Alabama
- Alabama versus Alabama
- Alabama versus the entire Pac-12 with assault rifles
- Alabama versus crippling ennui
- The Los Angeles Angels of Alabama versus Giant Catfish
- Tiny Alabama versus Ditka
- The 1996 Olympics' rhythmic gymnastics competition versus the Large Hadron Collider
- Just, like, Harvey Updyke wanking it for three hours
I have Updyke –3 over the Higgs Boson. Elsewhere in controversy needlessly barged into, Jacobi wonders what's to be done about "rogue" AP voters in an article with one of those jarring in-post links to another column. This is from Doyel:
That's settled. AP voters who will not vote for Alabama under any circumstances are to be given a cookie and a certificate vouching for their cognitive abilities. This is essentially Jacobi's conclusion as well.
Flantastic. Darryl Stonum, this is not so good:
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum… was ticketed this morning in Ann Arbor for driving on a revoked license, 15th District Court records show.
Stonum, 21, was stopped by Ann Arbor police after he checked in with probation at 7:03 a.m., said Steve Hill, Stonum's probation officer. Hill said Stonum was not taken into custody.
A probation violation form is being completed, but so far Stonum has not been charged with violating probation.
Reading between the lines it seems like the court is not hugely peeved by this, but thin ice and all that. I don't think this should have an impact on his availability next year as long as he successfully jumps through all his hoops. This probably adds another half-dozen. Stonum needs an understanding brunette to wake up at 6 with him.
Turnover in Madison. Bielema got raided pretty good this month:
Wisconsin lost two assistant coaches Wednesday -- wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable -- bringing the total number of departures to four. Huxtable will join former Badgers aides Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad in Pittsburgh as the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Chryst is Pitt's new head coach, while Bostad will serve as his offensive coordinator. Alexander is joining Arizona State's staff.
Bielema initially thought Bostad would be the only assistant joining Chryst at Pitt. It appears as though Huxtable will be the last departure.
It'll be interesting to see how Wisconsin copes. Their offense went from decent to lethal with Chryst's arrival. Losing him is kind of a deal. The hot name right now is Oklahoma "co-OC" Jay Norvell, which sounds like a good idea. Why does Wisconsin consistently have good ideas that no one else in the Big Ten does?
Longhorn fail. A major opportunity for ESPN to strongarm the Longhorn Network onto someone, anyone's cable has come and gone:
Comcast and the Walt Disney Company announced a 10-year, multiplatform distribution deal Wednesday that brings the “TV Everywhere” concept one step closer to reality. The Longhorn Network however, is not a part of the ESPN channels included in the agreement.
I'm rooting for the LHN to be an ignominious failure for many reasons: irritation at Texas for being one of two main parties that screwed up the structure of college football, a desire for the Big Ten's model to remain cromulent, etc. If the LHN doesn't get on cable by this fall it probably won't ever. At least it got a commenter on the above article to call Texas "the Ted DiBiase of college football."
No, not so much. From a Daily article on Molk:
“How we came in and how my first four seasons went, I thought we were the stain on Michigan tradition,” Molk said, walking slowly toward the winner’s podium on the turf. “But the reality is that we came back from everything and we’re back to where Michigan is.”
A big game. Basketball takes on Indiana tonight in Bloomington. Vegas and Kenpom both have them 8 point underdogs against the resurgent Hoosiers, which makes this a gravy outing. Win and that's a major bonus; lose and eh, we're okay.
Rumors be rumoring. There was some recent chatter from the OSU side of the rivalry that moving The Game was inevitable and had a good chance of happening when the new set of schedules came out. Dave Brandon says this is not so:
"That's just Internet rumor that has no factual basis," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Etc.: more postgame react from the Key Play. Getting a bit ornery (justifiably in cases that are not the overturned TD) as the shock fades. Shakin' the Southland reacts to the Orange Bowl fallout. Via On The Banks, a NYT report on Penn State documents unveiled by FOIA requests shows the institutional reaction to the media firestorm. I'm surprised the NYT can manage this since Pennsylvania has somehow exempted Penn State from transparency laws.
Wallpaper from the MZone.
DeAnthony Arnett is free and headed to East Lansing, and now we're back to your regularly scheduled Thursday Recruitin'. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Does Michigan Lead For Josh Garnett?
In recent weeks, the general consensus on Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has gone from him having Stanford as his team to beat to Michigan taking the position as his leader. One of the few who hadn't weighed in on this change was, of course, Garnett himself. ESPN posted a video interview with Garnett, who's participating in tonight's Under Armour All-American Bowl, and he was asked if the the perception that Michigan is his leader is a misconception (transcription via The Wolverine, emphasis mine):
"It definitely wouldn't be a misconception [to say they lead]. To be at a big time school like that, especially when you have guys like Eric Magnuson, [five-star tackle] Kyle Kalis ... when you have three big time linemen that could come in and compete with each other, build those friendships. They have some defensive linemen coming in, and Ohio State is bringing in some guys, so you can definitely have a good match-up in three or four years.
"All the linemen that have come out of Michigan and the legacy and going to the Big House with 115,000 people waving pom pons, saying 'Go Blue' ... it's definitely hard to turn that down."
Garnett still has an official visit to Stanford on the docket for next weekend, so by no means is Michigan in the clear—especially with the relative ambiguity of the question/answer posed—but that's one heck of a good sign. Garnett mentioned his close friendship with Magnuson multiple times over the course of the seven-minute interview, and it really sounds like that bond could be the deciding factor in his recruitment.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports about the status of Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep corner Yuri Wright and his scheduled visit to Ann Arbor for the weekend of January 13th. At one point it sounded like he would announce at the Army All-American Game on Saturday ($, info in header), and while he said he would still be taking his visits, making a commitment before ever seeing Michigan's campus was not a good sign. While message board chatter over at Scout suggests Michigan may have cooled on Wright while zeroing in on Armani Reeves, Tim Sullivan reports that Wright will NOT be announcing this weekend and will visit Ann Arbor as planned ($), and Wright repeated that statement on Twitter in no uncertain terms.
As for Reeves, the current Penn State commit is still waiting to see how their lengthy coaching search ends ($, info in header):
"I'm in the wait and see process with Penn State to see who they hire and where they're going to go in terms of the coaching staff. I want to talk to the head coach, see where he wants to go with personally as well as the direction he wants to take the program.
"Hopefully, he has the same idea that Joe (Paterno) had. You know, academics first and just be a Penn State guy."
On the visit front, Reeves plans to take his official visit to Penn State before taking any other visits but Michigan is in the running for a official visit after that.
His visit to Penn State is tentatively scheduled for January 13th, but that would not take place if they still don't have a coach. Michigan looks to be the most likely alternative if Reeves were to decommit, though Notre Dame is in the picture.
A few more happy trails to report as we roll towards signing day: Jordan Payton will decide between Cal, UCLA, and Notre Dame at the Army game on Saturday ($, info in header); Zach Banner has narrowed his list of schools to USC, Washington, and Oklahoma ($, info in header); and Greg Garmon committed to Iowa this week—it's looking unlikely at this point that Michigan will take another running back in the class.
We're So Good That a Deion Sanders Endorsement Gets Third Billing in This Section
Tis the season for high school All-American games, and practice reports on Michigan commits in both the Army and Under Armour games have been overwhelmingly positive. Ondre Pipkins has made a lot of noise for the West team at the Army game, and he also gave one of the interviews of the year at Rivals:
Though I generally find the whole "Ohio" thing rather silly, hearing all the recruits discuss their hatred for "Ohio" is absolutely hilarious. While "Pee Wee" Pipkins was goofing around off the field, he was no joke at practice this week, and was named by Rivals.com's Mike Farrell as Monday's top performer for the West squad ($, info in header):
Pipkins is a monster physically - he already looks like B.J. Raji or Vince Wilfork. He is one of the most physically imposing defensive tackles we have seen in awhile. At the point of attack, he is impossible to get on his heels and he penetrates quickly and athletically for a big man. Pipkins is going to be a load for the East offensive line to handle; he was simply dominating a good group of West lineman in the early session of practice.
Yes, please. Pipkins claimed in the above video that he weighs around 330 pounds right now, and while that's almost certainly not all good weight—he also admitted that he doesn't track his caloric intake, plus the whole snarfing down ice cream thing—he looks like he's ready to step onto a college field tomorrow. Good thing, too, considering the depth at DT next year.
Joe Bolden has been similarly turning heads all week at the Under Armour practices, and in this free 24/7 article he's named as his team's top linebacker prospect despite entering the week with little fanfare:
One of the least-publicized players entering the week, the Michigan commit was a hit from the first day on with his instincts and underrated feet and athleticism standing out. Bolden also was a sponge to the coaching given and by all accounts is a future leader of the Wolverines‘ defense. Bolden currently is 220 pounds, but has the frame to add 15-20 more in time.
Bolden was also named the Black team's defensive MVP by Scott Kennedy of Scout ($, info in header):
With the offensive line occupied by the defensive line, the linebackers were free to roam uninhibited. No one took advantage of the room to run better than Michigan commitment Joe Bolden. Bolden was popping pads during walk-thrus, and he continued to seek and destory when the tempo was moved to full speed. Bolden doesn't do anything half-speed. He showed he was capable of dropping into coverage as well as attacking the line of scrimmage.
Bolden is one of Michigan's three early enrollees, and it sounds like he's the most likely to see the field early next year. Bolden's teammate, Terry Richardson, also came in for praise in the above article, and he got some hype from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders, who's helping coach the defensive backs:
“Number one (Terry Richardson), the (Bryson Echols) kid is playing his butt off and (Chaz Elder) as a safety has done well,” Sanders said. “The best thing about Richardson is he’s a very coachable kid. You tell him something one time and he is going to implement it. Whatever you tell him, he will do. Echols is a fighter, he’s battled in everything he’s done. These kids are sponges in that have been well-coached.”
I don't think anyone worrying about character issues with Richardson has ever actually met the kid, as his passion for the game and enthusiasm in general are both outstanding, plus he's one of the more polite recruits I've had the pleasure of interviewing. It does not come as a surprise that he's standing out as a very coachable player.
Mario Ojemudia participated in Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, and he wasn't pleased with his performance, tweeting, "Got the dub but didn't play that well and I messed up my ankle." I took in most of the game before switching over to the Sugar Bowl festivities, and Ojemudia had a difficult time getting off blocks, mostly due to the fact that he looks to weigh around 215 pounds. I still think he's a great prospect as a pass rusher, but added size and strength is a must, and it will likely take a redshirt year before he's ready to see the field at the collegiate level.
Also coming in for praise from the Army Bowl are commits Erik Magnuson, who even got some work at center during practices, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and Kyle Kalis ($, info in header). Early enrollee Jarrod Wilson participated in last week's Offense-Defense game, and 24/7's Sean Fitz "loved" Wilson's combination of size (he says Wilson is pushing 6'3") and speed in centerfield ($).
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Erik Magnuson, whose favorite play in high school is a screen play for... Erik Magnuson; new blog Tremendous talks to Amara Darboh, who simply says "I don't like them," when asked for his thoughts on Ohio State; and Tim gathers commit reactions to the Sugar Bowl victory ($, info in header)—the ever-quotable Pipkins took the Haters Gonna Hate approach: "Everybody had us losing because they were hating on us - especially those Ohio State guys - but we won a bowl, so what can you say. Everybody heard us cheering downstairs."
Yes, I'm Now Interviewing 2014 Recruits
A few quick notes on underclassmen prospects:
First of all, I caught up with Crete (IL) Monee receiver Laquon Treadwell this week, and while he stated that he has no favorites, he listed a top five of Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek corner Shaq Wiggins once held Michigan as his leader, but he now has the Wolverines third behind Tennessee and Virginia ($, info in header). He also gave an idea of his potential timeline:
“I want to commit, like, during the summertime — June or July, somewhere in one of those dates — and just get the whole thing over with and focus on my senior season,” Wiggins said. “Once more offers start coming in — probably, like, when I go back to school or something like that — then I’ll narrow it down.”
Also looking to expedite his recruiting process is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, who's had Michigan among his favorites and says he's looking to cut his list down to five schools "by the end of this month or the beginning of next month" in an article on 247Sports ($, info in header). He gave his impressions of Michigan, who have been recruiting him hard:
“I’ve been talking to Coach Funk a lot,” Bosch said. “He’s just telling me that he’s really excited about me, and he sends handwritten letters to me four or five times a month. I just like the whole atmosphere there. I like the player-coach and player-player relationships there, and the team-first type of mentality. They all treat each other the same way, and I really like the down-to-earth atmosphere they have.”
Finally, yes, I talked to sophomore quarterback Anthony Sicilano this week, and the class of '14 standout has interest in Michigan, who are among a laundry-list of top schools that have contacted Siciliano. With Michigan likely set at QB with Shane Morris in the 2013 class, Siciliano could be a top priority in the future.
1/3/2012 – Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT) – 11-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Michigan got outgained better than two to one and probably squeezed the last bits of magic out of Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter until the Very Serious bullets that have no time for sentiment, the Very Serious bullets that didn't feel deeply guilty for not including Junior "Junior Megatron" Hemingway amongst the hallowed group of seniors who maybe could have sort of made Michigan itself again… except insofar as "again" is inappropriate to apply to a program that has not exactly made a habit out of winning BCS games doing so. The Very Serious Bullets were not ready to declare war on God for smiting David Molk—OF ALL PEOPLE DAVID MOLK—in the moments before the culmination of his career. And screw that. Screw a Very Serious bullet. Also logic, and reason, and causality, and all the other things that had no bearing on which team walked off the Superdome field happy.
This is what matters: Molk standing on the sideline watching the first offensive series and the feeling in his gut as he watched the last 60 minutes he'd wear the uniform evaporate. Logan Thomas saying something like "damn I'm tired" or "damn you're tired" to Ryan Van Bergen in the second half after yet another play on which a broken Van Bergen harassed—but did not sack—the brobdingnagian Tech quarterback. Mike Martin slicing his way into the backfield to put Tech into another third and long. Hemingway's hands finding the three inches of space needed for a touchdown. Confetti, the right confetti, and ugly shirts, and Chris Fowler talking to Junior Megatron, and people smiling.
What matters is that when Brendan Gibbons was asked what he thought about before the winning kick, he said "brunette girls" because Brady Hoke told him that's what he should think about.
This is not the best Michigan team ever assembled. It's not the most dominant. You know a lot of it was assembled by smoke and mirrors and Jon Falk's super-secret loose-fumble-magnet gloves. You're not eyeing that Alabama game next year and thinking "those rednecks are in for an… education. [YEAAAAAAAA]."
You, cold-eyed realist who gravitates to this place, are going to tell work colleagues who went to universities other than your own that Michigan deserved to win this game in no way whatsoever. And then your shit-eating grin is going to drive them from you.
I haven't watched the NFL in going on a decade now except in somnambulant Thanksgiving not-give-a-craps, but this holiday season happened to coincide with weekends and I was a guest without remote privileges. I caught a few last week. Amongst other exercises in vacuous non-speech, I ended up watching Aaron Rodgers make his publicist very proud after he respectfully dispatched Generic Opponent and then said things about his teammates.
The things he said were not so very different from what we usually get in college—like the game itself, public relations in the NFL is metal refined from NCAA ore—but in college things are rawer, emotions felt instead of managed. The brutal look on Danny Coale's face after his redemption was overturned is evidence enough of that.
The stakes in these games come from the stories of the players, and we get a relatively honest look at them over the course of their four years. After what must have been a crushing loss, The Key Play took to the internet not to light up coaching decisions or instant replay or VT's offensive line but to do this:
That team made me proud.
No we didn't win. I'm sure a lot of y'all are pissed about some play calls. I am. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan, especially on short yardage situations. But this wasn't the Orange Bowl last year. We didn't get our balls beat in. We didn't get throttled. We didn't get out-coached. We didn't get out-played. No one punched us in the throat... And that's why it hurts.
I have an ache in my chest right now too painful for words to describe. We came sooooooooo close, but failed. That's a strong word, but it's accurate--we failed. We came to play. We came to fucking play this game.
That comes from Coale, a guy pressed into service as a punter who was asked to make a weighty decision and failed. A guy who was a centimeter away from redeeming himself by staking Virginia Tech to a seven-point lead as tall as Everest who then had his anguish revisited time and again by ESPN as Michigan positioned themselves for the identical field goal Tech had just missed.
VT fans love Danny Coale even if they hate the way his last game played out. He is why they care, even if their memories are bittersweet. God, have we been there. Entire generations of Michigan seniors came and went without beating Ohio State.
For the first time in a long time, we don't have to eulogize. Michigan beat OSU and won a
bowl BCS game for the first time since the 1999 season. Martin Van Buren was president of East Rhodesia and logic gates were chiseled onto rocks the last time a group of Michigan seniors went out like this:
Or a season ended like this:
Yeah, the game was the definition of a "yes, but…" experience. In the cold-eyed light of the offseason it will dampen expectations for next year. So what? Virginia Tech fans are thinking of Danny Coale this morning.
I'm thinking of Martin and Koger and Hemingway and Molk and Van Bergen and how there is no thought of what could have been, no thought of opportunities missed or goals fallen short of. Just that they stayed, and they made a BCS bowl, and they were champions of it. In the end, the seniors of Team 132 got what they came for. Now they will break the last link on the chain and tell those who follow they can make it anew.
NOT VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
Smooth. In the same fashion friend of blog Jerry Hinnen said "yes, thank you, finally" to someone dubbing Oregon's shinybits in the Rose Bowl "Destro helmets," I welcome the comparison of brunette-loving, Scott-Van-Pelt*-.38-Special-comparison-inspiring, suddenly-nails kicker Brendan Gibbons to Keith Stone:
Psyching himself up for NAILS
hangin' w/ Mister Cooper
Well done, unknown Iowa fan who knows iawolve, well done. After a season in which Gibbons has been sarcastically exhorted to put the ball through the uprights in all caps and with question marks, it is only right to break out some H tags in tribute:
GIBBONS: YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS!
Yea, and it came to pass that the season preview gave the kicker spot at least a 3 next year. Now please stop probably deserving false start penalties.
*[SVP is reminiscent of the Dan & Keith ESPN heyday. He is capable of making me enjoy an hour of Sportscenter. Like Gus Johnson and Alton Brown, he is a rare being of pure awesomeness that can exist in a lowest-common-denominator setting. SVP for president.]
Further evidence. Via BWS:
Nike shirts: making you glad your school is Adidas even if they did dress the team like the bumblebee girl from "No Rain" this year. If you thought copping a Def Leppard lyric was gauche, you did not see the Fiesta postgame.
Nike is now run by the immature cheese from Cheez-It commercials.
Stop complaining about being passed over. Mathlete:
For all the K St fans upset about the Sugar Bowl snub, Michigan won this one in honor of you, can't imagine winning 10 games like that
Kansas State did play in the Sugar Bowl. They were wearing Michigan's uniforms.
This is why you're Sparty. LeVeon Bell:
UofM proud that they had 8 home games, didn't play Wisconsin OR Penn St, AND lost to us? Yall can beat a average VA Tech team, be proud then
Sparty being Sparty. Just like this guy wearing green and white in the endzone where Gibbons nailed the winner:
I hope you enjoyed the last few years, guys.
VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
ALL RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A TALK. Holy pants the offense. This was the third time this year Michigan's offense was just beyond terrible; they lost the other two but horseshoed themselves the Sugar Bowl.
It was imperative that Michigan establish something VT had to react to, but they never did. Their big tactical innovation for this game was a not-very-spread formation with a TE, a tailback, and Odoms in motion for a jet sweep fake. That worked on the first play of the game when Odoms got the edge and then hardly ever again. I don't understand Michigan's emphasis on running to the perimeter against a defense like VT's that thrives on getting their safeties to tackle in space.
Meanwhile, Michigan receivers got zero separation all night, allowing VT to tee off on the run with impunity. Michigan needs an athleticism upgrade there.
It's apparent Borges wants to put guys in the box instead of spreading them out, forcing the opponent to respect the horizontal aspects of the defense, and then making you tackle and fill one on one; maybe that will work against a VT when Shane Morris is throwing to LaQuon Treadwell. It did not here.
Robinson likely shares some responsibility but it's hard to tell since the Sugar Bowl shorted replays for more commercials. I did notice a late third down and medium on which Robinson tried to fit it in a nonexistent window to Koger when Gallon was breaking open underneath. But mostly it just seemed like there was never anything there. It's one thing if the opponent is beating a block. Against VT it seemed like there was always an unblocked guy fitting the run and no one was ever open. Hard to move the ball like that.
Interior DL FTW. We in the M blogosphere may have been excessively optimistic about the offense but man did we peg the other side of that matchup: VT's crappy interior line pass protected well but could not get RVB or Martin blocked to save their lives. Wilson got hacked down at the line time and again, got some yardage outside when Michigan's run support on the edges was missing. Logan Thomas was not pressured much and picked Michigan's secondary apart with lethal accuracy.
This is kind of why I am worried about next year: taking away Martin and Van Bergen is going to be huge, and the rest of the defense is short of guys who seem like certainties to be players at their level next year. I've got Ryan and Kovacs and then…
Mattison's going to earn his money next year if Michigan treads water defensively despite returning eight starters.
Holy Van Bergen. Not only did RVB play every snap, and play well, he was injured early in the game and ended up like this:
"My foot just feels like rubber,” Van Bergen said after the game. “I couldn’t plant on it or anything like that.
“It actually went down, like parallel to my chin when I was in a pile. The next time I was trying to plant, I was trying to overcompensate for it, and I put it the other way and got chopped, so my toe was coming up to like the top of my ankle.”
Can we retroactively make him a captain? I'm serious. If the Bentley doesn't list RVB as a captain I might have to hack their site so it does.
Richt'd… right? Hoke game theory bits were a mixed bag. By decision:
- Fake FG near end of first half. Yes, it was a called fake. The problem was that a big chunk of the team didn't get the call, including Dileo's intended receiver, thus resulting in the Yakety Sex that was the deflected long-snapper reception. Hoke's verging on the territory where all go/kick situations on which there's a reasonable debate seemingly decided in favor of the kick will be expected to be fakes, thus depressing the EV of faking. At this point he's going to have to kick some dumb field goals if he's going to get that back.
- FG at end of first half. I was okay with it. A fair chunk of the reason it's a good idea to go for it on fourth down in those situations is the crappy negative-value field position it leaves your opponent in if you fail. When the half is ending that's not a factor, and given the way that half played out I was not super confident Michigan would punch the ball in from the two.
- Sending out the punt safe team on the fake punt. Obvious move given the situation and one that paid off when Coale pulled a Zoltan-vs-MSU miscalculation on the rugby option. If you're going to go there you should put it in the hands of your huge QB, not rely on a converted WR to make a high-pressure decision he's never made in a game before. This bullet is more about Beamer than Hoke.
- Not calling TO in an effort to get the ball back at the end of regulation. Also okay with that. Immediate TO sees you get around 35 seconds when the ball is kicked off; given Michigan's offense to that point in the game and season-long crap kickoff returns that did not seem like it had much value. Calling TO has a slight chance of flipping the opposing coach's thinking towards going for it, or at least it might if this wasn't Frank Beamer.
Richt-ing it in OT. It wasn't a full-on Richt. Richt idiotically threw away two downs to attempt a 42 yard field goal with a kicker who had been 6 of 16(!!!) from 40+ that range this year. Hoke/Borges at least shaved a meaningful five yards* off the attempt and went with a guy who was at that point 11/15 on the season. Given the way Michigan's offense had been moving the ball (not at all with plenty of OH SHI— near-INTs), the equation is significantly different than when you've got Aaron Murray. While I was a little annoyed they didn't flip it out to the WR and his massive cushion, I wasn't livid at the thought process.
Still, man… let Denard run the ball with the extra blocker in a spread formation and instructions to keep both hands on the ball. Upside is greater there.
The theme here is when your offense can't pick up two yards to save its life, old-timey decisions are correct. When the game is going to end with a score worthy of 1950, playing 1950s-era football is the move.
*[The Mathlete's preview post contains an apropos FG success graph showing a whopping 15% difference in success rate between a 42 yard field goal (around 55%) and a 37-yarder (around 70%) for an average D-I kicker, which I'd say Gibbons is. Same difference for a bad one, FWIW. It's only when you've got a Kaeding or the like that playing as conservatively as Richt did makes even the slightest amount of sense.]
The not quite catch. Someone on the twitters put it best:
Here it is:
It's incomplete because the tip of the ball hits the ground and it shifts in his arms when it happens. The ball has the potential to slide through his upper arms when it impacts the ground; ground aids catch; not a catch.
VT fans and players are pissed off and I can understand why. Again, they should remove the uncertainty here and say the ball hitting the ground equals no catch until you have made the proverbial "football move." That is a bright line rule that removes the controversy from plays like this and the 49% Hemingway touchdown against Iowa and the 48% Coale TD above. If it swings the game a bit towards defense that may not be a terrible idea these days.
More on the fake FG. I thought surely the refs had missed an illegal man downfield, but it does appear that when the pass is thrown Michigan linemen are within three yards of the LOS:
Whatever the screwup was it looked like VT had that well covered. Hoke's going to have to shelve the fakes for a while.
Countess. Hoo boy was that a rough ride for him. I hope you caught that first bubble screen of the second half—after Countess let his guy get to the sideline Mallory lit him up. He got burned on a double move that Thomas overthrew, generally could not match up with the extremely talented Jarrett Boykin*, and was a problem on both outside Wilson runs and a variety of 7-8 yard bubble screens.
*[Another way in which Beamer handed this game to M was continuing to run the ball when your QB is completing 70% of his passes for almost 8 YPA. M loses if Beamer pulls the Carroll and tells his OC to call no runs in the second half.]
Bubble screens. Ain't saying nothin'.
Woolfolk took a short video in the locker room and posted it to the twitter:
It's not 90 degrees off, it's artistic.
Comment of the week from beenplumb:
Go back to last year and tell us that our defense and kicker would win us a BCS bowl and try not to get punched in the face for lying.
Diarists are too hungover to chip in just yet. Seth did excellent work on the no catch in OT, but that's on the front page so you probably know about it already.
Players. Ryan tweets some photos from the field. Roh with the dudes I promised to name my firstborn after*:
Roundtree and… uh… I don't know.
This is a disturbing moment. Who is that dude?
Blog substances, local. BWS bullets:
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, and perhaps more importantly, the Virginia Tech offensive line, were as advertised. The interior of that offensive line is dysfunctional. Martin and Van Bergen were three yards into the backfield on basically every running play. The only reason they can pass block is that they keep retreating into Logan Thomas, at least long enough for him to zip a pass to one of his many wide receivers. I have no idea how a team with an offensive line that bad can win 11 games.
In a way, this is how the 2011 season had to end for Michigan. At the end of the Rich Rodriguez era, Michigan was a great offfense and then a smoking heap of wreckage. The defense was unconscionably bad. The special teams were barely above that level, most notably because the Wolverines could not kick a field goal. Michigan did dumb things like not knowing that a blocked field goal is a live ball. The turnover rate was terrible. This year was a palate cleanser in every way. In the end, Michigan won a game despite the offense being completely stymied. The Wolverines won by being good on defense, very good on special teams, and smart enough to avoid the mistakes that killed their otherwise superior opponent.
Blog substances, national. EDSBS:
It was a complete mess in so many ways, and in so many different ways than the other BCS games thus far. the numbers were appalling in their own unique way: Michigan had 184 yards of total offense, got doubled up by VT in terms of total production, had 12 first downs to Virginia Tech's 22, and still ended up covered in maize and blue confetti watching Junior Hemingway losing his shit gloriously when Chris Fowler asked him about the long path to getting here. This is not a very good Michigan team, but they are a very good Michigan team.
That should make sense if you've watched this team dodge bullets and narrowly avoid putting the car in the ditch on so many occasions this year, or come back against Notre Dame, or hold on despite doing almost everything they could to lose a late lead to Ohio State, or in this game scratch, claw, and somehow hold a more productive Hokies team in check until the final and inevitable kicking mistakes. This team was more fun than any other team Brady Hoke will ever have because they were not supposed to have eleven wins, and could not conceivably have piled them up like this. This team is the pound dog that saved your family from the fire. They are the college car that would not die no matter what you put in its gas tank. They are the party that came out of nowhere on a Tuesday night, and resulted in no hangovers.
Easily one of our favorite teams of 2011, and not just because we like calling Brady Hoke "Ol' Pizzafarts."
Bill Connolly breaks down the numbers:
4: Tackles for loss by Michigan's Jake Ryan. Michigan's defense played the bend-don't-break routine to perfection. They allowed five yards per play and seven trips inside their 40, but they forced five field goals and a turnover on downs at their four. Part of the reason for the success was that Ryan (must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time...) was always around to make a big play. Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and Desmond Morgan combined for 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, and Michigan as a whole severely limited Tech's big plays. Just force them to keep inching down the field and eventually force a fourth down.
All of that sentimental bunk about Brady Hoke returning Michigan to its meat-eating essence or whatever, well, it actually worked out that way. It worked out far beyond the expectations of the most observant pilgrims of Oosterbaanian lore. No one in August was going out on a limb for a 7-6 outfit with no defense transitioning to a new coaching staff. As collapse-prone as the Wolverines were after fast starts under Rodriguez, no one was going out on a limb for them in early November, after losses at Michigan State and Iowa seemed to leave them back at square one. Since then, Michigan is 4-0 with wins over Nebraska, Ohio State and now Virginia Tech and abides in a state of Bo-like balance. Those who stayed fended off a fourth quarter Hokie rally to complete the circle.
I enjoyed this comment after the post:
This game proved that there is no pride or character in the big ten. When the only way you can win a game is by cheating and you are proud of it . I guess no one should surprised by the level of scandal in the conference. the attitude of the only real harm in disgusting behavior is being held accountable and the ends always justify the means is as base as it gets. to be beaten on the field as thoroughly as Michigan was on the field and be proud of a win that was a gift from whomever controlled that officiating crew is banal. That kid caught the ball everyone who has seen the replay from the angles available knows it including the replay officials and all of the Michigan coaching staff. ESPN made the staement that the only thing that matters is the final score. They and their Mid east Ohio valley values may be the real problem here.
Tom Fornelli has a format that demands he put words after the bullet HOW MICHIGAN WON. He begins "This is not an easy question to answer."
This was beyond weird, and exhausting to decipher. The Hokies controlled play, and had an apparent 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime overruled by replay. That gave the Wolverines their shot, and they took a BCS bowl victory and improbable 11-2 record with it.
There's been some question over the no-catch ruling on Virginia Tech's 3rd down overtime prayer to receiver/punter Danny Coale. The play was ruled a touchdown live but overturned on review.
The setup: On 3rd down and 5 from the Michigan 20 in the first possession of overtime, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas attempted to hit Coale on a corner route in the end zone. Coale had Michigan's coverage (by safety Woolfolk and cornerback Avery) beat to the outside but the ball was slightly overthrown. Coale dove for what would be a spectacular one-handed catch, bringing the ball in just as he, and it, hit the ground just inbounds. The side judge ruled it a touchdown, but on review it was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass because the receiver did not have control of the ball when the ball hit the ground.
The rule: You can find it on Pages 72-73 of the NCAA rulebook (emphasis mine):
ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by rule or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is incomplete when a player leaves his feet and receives the pass but first lands on or outside a boundary line, unless his progress has been stopped in the field of play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-4-3-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I).
The argument: The debate centers on whether or not Coale had "firm control" of the ball when it touched the ground. If the ball never touches the ground it's a clear reception, but since in this case nobody is arguing that the ball didn't touch the ground, the standard we're debating is whether or not Coale had established this firm control before the ball touched turf. For that we will consult the video.
With the grit of 40 Ecksteins, two Welkers, and half a Dileo, Coale reaches out and gets a hand underneath the ball. This is not "firm" control.
Coale now brings the ball between his forearms. This too would not be confused for "firm possession." However at this point he has a chance, if he can bring the ball to his chest and get it crooked in his arm, to prevent the ball from hitting the hard thing that is rapidly rushing toward him very fast.
So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?
Here is the money shot (clickening embiggens). Coale's elbow has hit the turf (just inbounds) but the ball is still between his forearms, not in his hands. It is hard to tell but the ball has now hit the ground as well, a nanosecond after the elbow.
The announcers were focusing on the elbow but the question is still one of whether the ball was firmly controlled by the player before it hit the ground.
A good test of this "firm control" (this is a sanity check not the final arbiter) is whether the ball moved when it hit the ground. It stands to reason that if the receiver had firm control of the ball when it came in contact with the ground it won't move that much.
If you recall, this is what doomed Junior Hemingway's TD catch attempt while down 8 in the closing seconds of the Iowa game. Hemingway actually managed to get two hands under the ball and secure it against his chest and arm a moment before coming down atop it. The "firm control" test in that case seemed to have been passed, but the catch was ruled incomplete because the reviewers saw the ball move in his possession after it hit the ground.
As you can see in the screenshots below, at the zero moment (when a part of the body made the player down) Coale's level of possession is way less than Hemingway's.
What controversially damned Hemingway was that after this the ball rotated about 90 degrees after the nose of the ball hit the ground, or so it was supposed since Hemingway's body blocked most of that. With Coale however the movement after contact with ground was pretty clear.
The ball is between Coale's forearms and possession only becomes firm long after the ball has impacted the ground. This I believe is what the review officials saw.
Incomplete! Time to bring in the 3rd string VT kicker who has been 4/4 today for an easy field g…oh snap!
But it's too close to call/not enough evidence to overturn! If someone is saying this to you they are confusing a Law & Order episode for reality. They have conceded that "incomplete" is the correct call, and are essentially complaining that it should have been ruled incorrectly because of a technicality in the literal meaning of the review rule. You cannot complain about calls the refs get right; that's not how complaining works. If you think the video is "inconclusive" you are conceding the call could have gone equally either way and saying it should be one or the other makes as much sense as whining that a flip of the coin should have been heads.