'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play out their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email. This week, Ondre Pipkins racks up some ridiculous numbers, Mario Ojemudia impresses once again, and Jeremy Clark continues to scare me with his good play (not because I don't want him to be good, but because I want him to stick with his grayshirt commitment).
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-2 on the season after a 41-17 loss to Brentwood Academy. No stats for Bars, being an offensive lineman and all.
This week: The Big Red look to bounce back at home against Baylor on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden had a fumble recovery in Colarain's 37-0 thrashing of Ryle. The Cardinals are now 2-0 on the season after beating nationally-ranked Cocoa (FL) last week on ESPN.
This week: Colerain looks to extend their 61-game home winning streak on Friday at 7:30 vs. St. Xavier.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford bounced back from their week one loss with a 42-7 blowout win against Holt. Braden
helped pave the way sat out due to a concussion as Rockford rushed for 273 yards on 33 carries.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Though defensive stats are unavailable at this time, Brown did record a 21-yard touchdown reception in Brush's 42-35 loss to Madison. The Arcs fell to 0-2 on the season with the defeat.
This week: Rockford hosts Grand Haven on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
According to Touch the Banner, Funchess hauled in two receptions for 29 yards in Farmington Hills Harrison's 28-14 victory over Southfield. The defending Division 2 state champs are now 2-0 on the year after last week's evisceration of Cass Tech.
This week: The Hawks will try to continue their in-state dominance in their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant scored on a three-yard touchdown run to help Southview defeat Toledo Rogers 18-0, with the defense forcing two safeties. He left the game early with an apparent ankle injury, so I might have to change plans for this week's Creeper Van Original. Stay tuned...
This week: Southview (2-0) plays at Toledo Start on Friday at 7. Depending on Gant's status, I may or may not be there.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin battled illness before Detroit Catholic Central's 14-7 victory over Delphos (OH) St. John's, but you wouldn't know that based on his play. A report from MGoUser Denarded:
Today went down to Delphos, OH to witness future Michigan Wolverine Matt Godin. Had a great day 2 sacks, around 3-4 TFLs, while also knocking out the DSJ quarterback. Maybe the best part after the game Godin rushes to the fence to two guys with Buckeye apparel on, and says "I hope you'll enjoy me doing that to Braxton Miller for 4 years" and walked away. Loved seeing the Buckeye fans faces after that. Wyatt Shallman also looked impressive at RB, scored a touchdown probably ran for 70-80 yards.
TTB adds that Godin recorded ten tackles on top of the two sacks, handful of TFLs, and one awesome bit of trash talkin'.
This week: The Shamrocks play Inkster at home on Friday at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma had another outstanding performance, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in Highland's 42-6 victory over Provo. MGoUser Spishak was on hand for the first half, and had this to report (thanks to MichFan1997 for posting it as a new thread):
The home announcer pronounces his name, Say-own-ee Hoo-ma. They have quite a few polynesian players on the team, so I would imagine his pronunciation is correct. Who knows?
Sione plays OLB and FB/RB. He almost always is the soul back and lines up in a 3-point stance about 2 yards behind the QB. Their offense is NOT fancy. They did not once line up with more than two wideouts; they ran 80% of the time; mostly QB keepers. Houma runs between the tackles and right at the defense. Very fullback-ish. Didn't get to see his speed on display, if he has any. He is definitely a thumper; solidly built. He is 6', 6'1" in cleats. The program had him listed as 6'1", 210(!). Probably 195, IMO. He played only 1/3 of the defensive plays and they nearly always lined him up right on the DE's ass. (As a strange sidenote, their program had 22 players listed as RB's. Highland played onlyHouma in the backfield, though he didn't get many touches.)
His stats (for one half): 2.5 tackles (one tfl); 40 yds rushing, TD, on only 5 carries. His longest carry was 15 yards. They simply didn't need him much tonight as they had their opponent (Provo) very outmatched.
Best "Sione Houma: Soul Back" photoshop wins the undying admiration of your internet peers, which has to count for something.
This week: The Rams look to move to 4-0 on the season when they host Lone Peak on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech took out their frustrations from last week's FHH loss on Detroit Central, coming away with a 62-6 victory as RJS contributed three touchdowns, including a blocked punt return. More on this game later in the post.
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Kalis sat out St. Edward's 47-6 victory over Penn Hills, missing his second straight game to start the year due to a (not serious) knee injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage.
This week: The Eagles host Cardinal Mooney on Saturday at 7:30.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson's La Costa Canyon squad won their season debut 48-0 over Huntington Beach Marina in a battle of schools whose names make me want to move to California. The Mavericks had two different running backs break 80 yards rushing as they dominated up front, I'm sure in large part due to Magnuson's rather large presence.
This week: LCC plays Poway at home on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Did you know Farmington Hills Harrison is ranked as the number six team in the country by SI.com? Well, they are, and in this week's rundown Ojemudia came in for some high praise from Ben Glicksman:
Despite a loaded receiving corps (see: Aaron Burbridge, Devin Funchess, Gairus Coleman) defensive end Mario Ojemudia might be the Hawks' best player. The Michigan commit collected another two sacks against the Bluejays, building off a terrific 127-tackle, 12-sack junior year campaign.
You can see one of those two sacks in the following video from Fox 2:
Fox's local sports guy might want to work on that pronunciation.
This week: The Hawks play their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins led off The Wolverine's commitment updates ($) due to recording five tackles, three pass deflections, and three forced fumbles in Park Hill's 23-0 shutout of Ruskin. Park Hill is now 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Trojans travel (not far, I imagine) to Park Hill South on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
Richardson added to Cass Tech's onslaught with a touchdown reception, which you can see in these local highlights (he's #9 in white).
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped to 0-2 on the season with a 32-21 loss to Princeton as Ringer sat out his second straight game with a broken wrist. Based on his Twitter feed, it sounds like Ringer is hopeful for a return this week against Archbishop Moeller.
This week: Northmont travels to Archbishop Moeller for a Saturday night game at 7.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's fell to Toledo St. John's Jesuit, 34-14, in their home opener. No stats are available for Ross at this time.
This week: St. Mary's hosts Highland Park on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills improved to 1-1 with a 21-17 road win at Harrison.
This week: The Highlanders open their home slate on Friday at 7:30 against Loveland.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
According to his Twitter account (highlight the text to see the white type), Standifer recorded his first interception of the season–and 10th of his career–in Crete-Monee's 35-0 victory over Lincoln-Way West. The Warriors improved to 2-0 as 2013 WR Laquon Treadwell had a huge game, pulling in five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder.
This week: Crete-Monee travels to Moline on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
According to TTB, Strobel had one solo tackle and five assists in Mentor's 38-27 victory over defending Division V state champ Youngstown Ursuline.
This week: The Cardinals host St. Ignatius on Friday at 7:30.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams didn't record a catch as Sycamore pulled out a 28-21 win over Springboro to improve to 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated at Springfield on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
No stats to report for Wilson as Akron Buchtel fell to Steubenville, 22-6, dropping to 0-2 in 2011.
This week: The Griffins look to record their first win on the road against Solon on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Wormley had three tackles (I've seen it reported as high as eight, which means someone was doing some very generous stat-taking), two QB hurries, two TFLs, and a sack to help Toledo Whitmer beat A.B. Lucas Secondary School, 41-0, in this week's Creeper Van Original:
This week: The Panthers host another Canadian squad as they look to improve to 3-0 against Brantford (Ontario) Collegiate on Friday at 7.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Clark had another great game as North Hopkins defeated Hardin, 34-21, as the Michigan commit recorded six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.
This week: The Maroons (2-1) travel to Hopkinsville on Friday at 7.
MI QB Shane Morris
Although, for some reason, HighSchoolSports.net thinks Warren De La Salle's quarterback is named Zach Bihary, it was Shane Morris who completed 10-of-16 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in their 34-6 win over Flint Carmen-Ainsworth.
This week: De La Salle plays at Fordson on Friday at 7.
Item of the week. A new weekly thing: in conjunction with the Pat Maloy Scholarship fund we'll be plugging Michigan memorabilia on a weekly basis. All proceeds go to scholarship endowments at Michigan. Item!
The above features signatures from blog favorites Brandon Graham, Zoltan Mesko(!), and Ron Bellamy:
This item is a perfect addition to a Michigan collection in that it spans several decades of Michigan football greatness. A white Michigan football adorned with a large blue block M and two winged helmets on either side. The football is autographed by 18 former Michigan stars including Jim Brandstatter, Brandon Graham, Billy Taylor, Jarrett Irons, Buster Stanley, Vada Murray, Harlan Huckleby, Jarrod Bunch, Ron Johnson, Andre Weathers, Greg Mathews, Ron Bellamy, David Moosman, Stevie Brown, Zoltan Mesko, Derek Walker, Greg McMurtry.
Hatch update. From his Caring Bridge page:
Monday, September 5, 2011 5:25 PM, EDT
Another great week by a determined and hard working student athlete. Austin has a beautiful attitude and is enjoying day visits with close friends and family. We are following the medical staff advice to control the visitor schedule to no more than three at a time to allow him to focus on his recovery. While the length of the rehab program is still unclear, he looks forward to returning to home and normal activities.
Mitch McGary enjoys torrential downpours. Mitch McGary visited for the Western Michigan game and reportedly had quite a time. Here's MGoUser Max hanging with McGary in the rain:
Post something like this and you'll be hounded until you give people the full story, so Max did:
I asked him about his official visits; he told me he is allowed to take 10 (instead of the usual 5) since he took a year off after high school. "You're gonna hate me for this, but I'm going to Duke next weekend." I asked, "Are you visiting anywhere more than once?" He replied, "No, but I'll be back at Michigan for camp in [whatever month it was]."
He was going batshit crazy on all the big Michigan plays, waiving his towel and giving out high-fives. He, like the rest of the student section, clealy enjoyed the rain, too. He sang and fist-pumped along with The Victors. He even tried to start a cheer, but his "LET'S GO BLU-UE" wasn't very catchy.
Finally, right before he and the others left, I asked him to take a picture with me. He seemed really excited, throwing his arm around me and joking around. I got a little too excited and started slapping him on the shoulder. He cringed a little, and I remembered that his shoulder had gotten cut up pretty badly when he broke that backboard. I apologized, but he just thought it was funny. After the picture, we all started jumping around a little bit, yelling "Go Blue!" and whatever else. He said several things to the effect of "I'll see you guys next year!" and then left.
So that's spectacular except for the part where Michigan fans whap him in his fresh wounds. UMHoops points out that McGary's AAU coach, Wayne Brumm, has been talking up Michigan to any outlet that will listen—I'm guessing that's he's the source for the national recruiting guys who keep saying "McGary isn't close to a decision but I'd keep an eye out for Michigan." Sam Webb hit Brumm up for a take on his visit and the resulting Webblog says Michigan is "STRONG" with McGary in the headline. This seems like time to get those hopes off the floor.
If you're like me you'll need to see McGary in a Crisler shootaround before you'll believe Michigan can snag a top five recruit in this modern sleaze-paced basketball recruiting society, but it seems like they've got a shot. McGary's off to a who's who of basketball powers over the next few weeks, whereupon his love for the block M and sea turtles falling from the sky will be tested. The good news: The rumor is Michigan's main competitors are Maryland and Florida and McGary mentioned to people around him that he planned on returning to Ann Arbor for "camp"—November camp? Next year's Elite camp?
Snagging McGary would take Beilein's recruiting trajectory from "we'll be pretty good in 2013" to "Big Ten contender NOW." Fingers crossed.
BAD HEADLINE MONKEY. You're new here at the Detroit Free Press (motto: Metro Detroit's second best paper named "The Detroit Free Press"), kid. So we'll cut you some slack. But this is not cool:
Kid, "rigorous" means you are more than doubling NCAA practice time maximums. When you're a headline monkey at Metro Detroit's second best paper named The Detroit Free Press, you have to know these things. I'm glad we had this talk. Now if you could lay out the arts section, clean the bathroom, copy edit* A1, and check the roof for suicidal reporters you can go home.
I've always wanted an opportunity to get sued by Righthaven. Thanks to the rain, I've got one. It turns out that Vegas refunding the world's tickets on the Michigan-WMU game is quite a letoff for sportsbooks:
"It was kind of wacky. There have been some crazy weather games, but I've never seen that," MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. "I would rather have seen the game get in and played than end the way it did, when maybe some people feel like they were cheated.
"We were going to lose on the game. That was by far the biggest public-backed game on the board. The ticket count was ridiculous, like 20-1 for Michigan."
Wow. Either the sharps or the books were heavily on Western.
WAYS YOU CAN TELL THE NEWSPAPER YOU ARE READING IS BASED IN LAS VEGAS PROTIP: The reporter says "I was on the Wolverines, for the record" and wishes a natural disaster had befallen the Georgia Dome so he wouldn't have gotten taken on the Boise State-Georgia game.
Time to update the Michigan reporter whirlwind. MVictors's handy movement graph is now out of date since Zach Travis has been picked up by Bleacher Report of all things and is getting paid to write on the Big Ten. Spreading that venture capital love around, they are. If you'd ceased paying attention to Zach's old blog Dreaded Judgment, he's firing it back up.
Are we still talking about this? Well done, Jon Wilner. You managed to get me all the way through your article on yet more realignment without making it clear that your source is a guy in a Pac-12 athletic department who likes messing with journalists:
The Big Ten won’t expand until it’s time to renegotiate the league’s deals with CBS and ESPN, which expire in 2016, according to a source.
At that point, if the Pac-12 and the SEC have grown to 16 teams, then Notre Dame will join the Big Ten.
Guh. I have been expansion-trolled. If you still want to take this seriously, Wilner says the Pac 12 presidents are opposed to expanding but will do it if the SEC jumps off the bridge first, at which point they'll have no choice. I hope the Big Ten is wise enough not to follow them.
Etc.: If you like the arrangement of the Victors for the Michigan Difference commercials, you can download it for your phone or (emo) tailgate or whatever. Holdin' the Rope starts a Michigan Monday analogue focused on the Golden Bobcats. Bruce Feldman is outside the paywall. Tommy Rees will start for ND this weekend.
Just snuck this under the wire. Have to remember I'm actually voting now. My guideline early in the season is that I do use preseason expectations to guide my balloting until about week five, when the poll should be all results.
GEORGIA, I KILL YOU. This may be an overreaction to being so wrong about the Bulldogs but I booted them entirely. Their defeat was comprehensive. I was less violent towards Oregon since their problems were considerably more turnover-based and, honestly, because I wasn't way out there by thinking Oregon would be good this year.
LSU gets the obvious bump, as does Boise.
I AM VERY IMPRESSED BY VICTORIES OVER MEMPHIS. I don't look at my previous ballots when putting these together because it's not like they're precise enough to matter. Sometimes this has weird effects like a win over hapless Memphis warranting a nine-slot jump while beating Marshall comprehensively in a lightning storm gets you dinged two spots.
So I have no idea why I flipped Alabama and Oklahoma. Data is thin.
I DOUBT THE OBC. I did mean to knock South Carolina down several pegs after they struggled against ECU—I think it was @TeamSpeedKills who was so incensed that he called for Spurrier's suspension in retaliation for suspending Stephen Garcia. After the dust cleared from a nutty game featuring nine turnovers, Not That USC had outgained ECU by six yards.
It is likely too late for corrections; I'll do better next week.
[Ed: bump in case anyone doesn't know to read these yet.]
So, we're almost 3 quarters into the Brady Hoke era, and what have we learned? Not a hell of a whole of a lot. Western was a cupcake, and we provided the vanilla frosting, the vanilla defense, and the vanilla offense. There's plenty to criticize and the few good things all come with cupcake's caveats. Next week will be the real barometer of our progress .
Somewhere in the back of my self-important mind, I worry that breaking down our offensive and defensive systems might give a very tiny advantage to our opponents. So this year I'm going to do less system stuff and focus on individual plays and players when it comes to our team. I'll save system analysis for scouting reports of other teams.
But first, I just have to say:
You sir, have an awesome mustache.
Let's start with the bad:
Their first drive was cause for concern. Just getting aligned was a problem on many plays.
I'm pretty sure this isn't how you're supposed to defend a 3rd and 1.
And on this next play, the confusion is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. You could roll it into a batter and make... hmmmm... I'm hungry...
Despite being in a shotgun look, this is clearly a run formation. What's the giveaway?
How about the covered slot "receiver" making this an unbalanced line. We've got 3 guys defending air, and the DB's are so far back, they're practically giftwrapping a 10 yard run.
The QB meshes with the fullback to give an option look, and he wisely hands it off since our linebacker is way out of position.
The ball carrier cuts back to the GAPING HOLE. Meanwhile, our contain guy is so concerned with both the QB and pitchman, neither of whom have the ball, that he can't make a play on the FB.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that we got it figured out before the drive was even over.
Here we are against the same exact formation and play a few downs later. That's a quick adjustment, or maybe it's just that nobody f'd up this time. Notice that the DB's are in a position to support against the run and we clog up the middle to stop the FB for practically no gain.
Carvin Johnson was misaligned on the next play, but Avery did a good job to make a solid tackle and delay the TD. But as a whole, the defense looked like most of them have had 3 or 4 different coordinators in the last 4 years.
I'm also concerned about the size of our front seven, and when we go against the likes of MSU, Neb, OSU, and god willing - Wiscy, well.... let's just hope things get better.
[Ed.: more after the jump.]
Ryan Van Bergen
This is not the greatest press conference in the world; this is just a tribute.
Does Hoke talk a lot about ‘feeling players’? “A little bit, yeah.” What did he say about feeling a player’s impact? “Um, as far as whose impact?” Anyone’s impact. “Oh he just talks about everybody doing their jobs. Everybody making sure that they do their job and make sure they’re aggressive about it, and when he says impact, I think he’s just talking more about toughness and mentality that you bring to the game.”
You scored a defensive TD against Wisconsin a couple years ago. What’s it like watching Herron score? “It’s just really exciting, especially for Brandon, to have that opportunity. When you score on defense, it’s something that’s unexpected. It’s just such a big bonus for a team, when your defense is giving you twelve points, you’re going to win a lot of football games. We’re pretty excited about it, and we’re going to build off of it.”
Mattison said, ‘We’re not going to sit back.’ How much do you enjoy playing aggressive defense? “It’s fun. We’ve been excited about it for a long time. Coach Mattison is an aggressive-style coach. Once we figured what [Western] was doing offensively, we tried to attack them. One thing we have to do better though is we have to improve our four-man rushes. Coach Mattison can’t call a blitz to get after quarterbacks -- we have to go put pressure on them ourselves and help out our DBs. It was fun, but at the same time we have a lot to do.”
What do you have to do specifically to get better rush? “Up front we need to get off our blocks quicker, and execute our moves. That’ll come. That was the first game.”
What’s Hoke like on the sidelines? “Passionate. He’s got a lot of energy. You can really feed off of him. He’s got enough energy for everybody on the team. He knows when to be tough, and when to come over and tell you in a calm manner what to do. He’s got a really good feel for everybody and all the players and their attitude."
Was it hard to get consistency on the D-line with all the substitutions? “No, no, not at all. [Western] came out with a no-huddle. Hats off to them -- we didn’t know they were going to do that. So the coaches did a really good job of rotating. I think we probably played 7-8 guys on the defensive line. We needed that. It was 120-130 degrees on the field I heard. If we weren’t rotating, it could have gotten ugly really fast. We need that rotation, and coach wants to get more guys in. He wants us to be able to go full tilt when we’re in the game, and I think we were more productive because of it.”
Is there a night game you’ve played in that stands out? “Night games -- they’re fun as far as atmosphere and stuff, but the thing that people don’t realize is how much it sucks when you’re waiting around in a hotel. We wait around in a hotel before the game, so you’re sitting in your hotel room. Coach is trying to keep you occupied, but you’re waiting to play a football game, watching other football games in your hotel room. That’s a big wait when you’re getting up at nine o’clock and you’re not leaving to go play until five. But it is a good experience.
“One that comes to mind is when we went to play Iowa in their stadium. That was pretty cool. It just seems like the fans are just that much more into it when the lights are on. I don’t know why, but it does seem like it’s more electric.”
You didn’t give up many big plays. What went well? “We had some good things happen as far as we’ve been trying to limit big plays, because that’s been an Achilles heel of our defense for the last couple years, but we definitely need to improve. There are things that they did, and we knew they were going to come after us with certain schemes, and we didn’t stop them. There has to be some adjustments made. We had some good things, but we had a lot of room to improve, and luckily we got in to watch the film yesterday, so we can start working on that.”
How did you find out you were an honorary game captain? “Coach Hoke told me, I wanna say Friday? I think? He told me Friday. It was a big deal. It’s a very big accomplishment for me to go out there with those guys. A lot of players have told me they look up to me as a captain and a leader. I was excited. It was a really, really cool experience."
Does Hoke give out any individual honors, e.g. helmet stickers a la Bo? “Not really. Coach Hoke is a big advocate for ‘the team, the team, the team.’ The individual awards don’t mean anything if your team’s not winning. The emphasis on the team has really helped our guys come together and helped our chemistry. Presenting individual awards isn’t going to be in Coach Hoke’s -- that’s not in his personality. Unless I’m wrong and maybe something else comes, but right now I don’t think there’s anything lined up like that.”
Where do you rank the Notre Dame rivalry compared with MSU or Ohio? “It’s a big deal. We’ve been playing each other a long time. The history goes back. I think Michigan was actually the ones who taught Notre Dame how to play football, if you look at the history. They were supposed to go to Evanston and play Northwestern, but we went down to South Bend and taught Notre Dame how to play football. I think that’s how it went down. It’s a big deal. This goes back so far, and there’s so much history. That and we’re so competitive in terms of most wins in college football. I know they take it very seriously, and we take it very seriously. It’s exciting to be able to play in it."
Did you watch the end of the ND-USF game? What did you think of their offense? “Luckily for ND, they have two very talented quarterbacks. They had their hiccups, but it was their first game. They’re going to get into their zone, and they’re going to start playing well, and we have to be prepared to see both [quarterbacks]. No, I didn’t see the end of the game. I wanted to, but nothing against NBC, but I did not like the program they had on while the rain delay was on, so I was like, uh, I’m just going to watch the other ones. I did not see the TV copy. I will watch the film copy though.”
Talk about Notre Dame’s O-line. “Big. Notre Dame’s got some big offensive linemen. Their biggest one, though, I wanna say his name’s Charles Stewart, I’m not sure. He graduated. He was their left guard. He was like 370, a really big kid. Their right guard, Trevor Robinson, I think is his name. He was a kid that Michigan recruited, and I was his host when he was here. Their center’s really good, too. He’s been there for two years, I think, and very experienced. Their interior line is really experienced. I think they have younger guys on the outside, but they also have a year of experience underneath their belt. So they’re going to be a good test for us as far as a defensive front and where we are in comparison to other teams, because Notre Dame’s offensive line will be as good as any we’ll see.”
(more after the jump)
(Ryan Van Bergen, David Molk, and Denard Robinson will be up tomorrow morning.)
- Cam Gordon and Troy Woolfolk will play next Saturday
- Fitz remains starting RB
Press Conference (filmed)
"It is a holiday, but in your profession -- in our profession -- you really don’t have holidays, but that’s okay."
Opening remarks: “As far as last Saturday, it was good to win. The weather is -- you can never anticipate what happens -- but it was good to win a football game, and we think we learned a lot team-wise when you look at where we need to really improve. It was good to get out and obviously play someone else besides yourselves because we did that for four weeks. There’s a lot that we can learn from the film, there’s a lot that we can continue to learn from the film and improve on, and hopefully we’re gonna make a big improvement because the test gets much bigger this week.
“This is a great rivalry game, and one that we’re excited about obviously. There’s some other things that go along with this game this year with playing at night, the first night game, and the throwback uniforms, and all those things, but the one thing we talked about as a team is we can’t get caught up and distracted. The field’s still going to be 120 yards long when you include the end-zones, and 53-point-something yards wide, and so that’s not going to change. That’s where our focus has to be and how we prepare this week to play our best football and make a lot of improvements.”
Talk about the injuries to Troy Woolfolk and Cam Gordon. “Troy, he just sprained his ankle—his other ankle. It felt better yesterday. I think emergency-wise, he could have gotten back in Saturday. He’s doing a good job, and Paul Schmidt, our trainer, is doing a good job treating all those things. Cam, he tweaked his back earlier in the week, felt better but still just didn’t feel good enough. There was no sense for us to try and put him out there where he could prolong the recovery process, I would say.”
Anyone else? “No.”
Do you anticipate them starting this Saturday against Notre Dame? “Yeah, I do.”
You didn’t allow very many big plays of 20+ yards. How would you evaluate your safeties? “Obviously I think Jordan played a terrific football game, when you look at his production and the things that we asked him to do. I thought he played very well. He did miss one tackle in there, but he played well.”
“Marvin was getting his feet wet a little more in game-atmosphere kinds of situations, there’s a lot with the communication we need to have more of back there. He’s got to be more vocal -- he’s not a real vocal guy anyway.
“I think Thomas [Gordon] played well, but there’s some things that I know that he wasn’t satisfied with that he needs to improve upon, but he’s had a tremendous camp. We asked him to do a lot because when Troy went down, he moved into nickel in that situation. I think we were okay there. I think there’s a lot that we need to do a heck of a lot better this week.”
ND’s QB situation is kind of up in the air. How does that affect how you prepare? “To me, it doesn’t change anything in our preparation. With the style of offense that Brian runs, I think they’re very talented. [Notre Dame] will make the decision that’s best for the team, and we can’t worry about that. I don’t think it changes the offense in any way at all.”
What’s the most memorable Michigan-Notre Dame game you’ve been involved in? “I was here kind of in those odd years. We played Washington two years and we didn’t play [Notre Dame]. And then we played UCLA two years and didn’t play [Notre Dame]. I think [what was memorable] in the ‘97 year was when [Notre Dame] was inside the red-zone three times, and defensively [Michigan’s] guys stood up and didn’t let them get any points.”
Earlier last week it didn’t look like Herron or Avery were going to start. But then they played a lot. How come? “Some of it has to do with what kind of defensive set we were in. Courtney was the third corner coming in. Troy goes to nickel, Courtney comes on the field. I don’t think the [depth chart] played a part in it. Just what subgroup you were in. The other one was when Cam started hitching up with his back a little bit, we had to get another guy with some experience some reps in the design of the defense that we were in, and I kept going back with that because it depends whether we’re in the dime or nickel or base, where we line up -- but that was the only reason.”
You have countdown clocks for MSU and Ohio. Is Notre Dame on a different level? “Those are Big Ten conference games, that’s always part of it. In-state rivalries and obviously the rivalry on the last Saturday in November is special. [The Notre Dame rivalry] is important as anything. This has always been a game where … I remember Coach Schembechler always talking about, you always get a gauge on where you’re at as a team, because it’s always going to take a national spotlight, and it is an environment where you have expectations of how your guys are going to play.”
Is there one thing you were really happy with from Saturday? “Well, there’s probably a lot of things I was very unhappy with, but we’ll leave that for later. But here’s what I thought: Rushing for 190 yards in three quarters of game -- that was a good thing. I think that once Greg Mattison and the defensive staff made some adjustments [with] the pressure on the quarterback … The man coverage, we have to be much better this week because of the talent that Notre Dame has. But I thought there was a flow to the game then. Herron takes the ball back, and we come back out, and it’s a three-and-out. So we were starting to get some flow and momentum.”
Can you elaborate on what else you need to improve? “We have to play better run defense, we have to play tighter coverage in zone, we have to be able to pressure the quarterback with four guys at times, or with three guys at times from a defensive perspective. We had some missed alignments that were based on communication that you can’t have, or lack of communication.
“From an offensive standpoint, we took care of the football, which was big and always will be big. But there were a couple decisions that we need to make better, and we have to do a better job staying on blocks down the field because there were several opportunities for other bigger plays in the run game. Our routes, where [receivers] broke a couple of them off early -- the receivers have to be more disciplined within the scheme, especially when you’re in the timing phase of your game.
“And then the kicking game -- our kickoff coverage will get a lot of attention from where we place the ball on the kick to how we get off blocks going down the field. So that’s huge. Obviously we’re going to give a lot of attention to PAT and field goal protection on the inside. You can’t get knocked back, and that was part of the one that got blocked. A big part of it was because we got knocked back too much. Another problem was that the snap was too high. It took Gibbons a little longer to approach the ball because of that.
“I could go to the punt team, I could go on and on … kickoff return -- better decision than taking the ball out of the end-zone, getting on guys a little better, I mean this could be a marathon, but I don’t have the time for it, and neither do you.”
Will we see some different personnel in kickoff coverage? Well you could. It’s competitive, and you’re evaluated, and if we’re not doing the job we think we need to have, from a competitive standpoint, because part of getting off blocks is getting competitive, and having an intensity of what you’re doing. That part of it, believe me, was addressed yesterday and will continue to be addressed this week. There could be some different faces on there. It’ll be a fun week, we’ll put it that way.
Do you feel like D-line led the defense? “I think we played okay. We weren’t – you guys have heard me talk about ‘hearing football.’ You also want to feel guys during the course of a game. I felt number 32 during the course of the game. An impact. To some degree, I thought J.T., you could feel him out there a little bit. I never felt our front like we need to. Not to be specific – I think we played okay, but I think we need to play at a higher level and a higher standard.”
You ran 39 offensive plays. Was that enough to answer some questions or are there still some things for which you need to see more in order to evaluate? “I think it’s a little bit of both. I think there are some things that are still out there. Talking to Al and the offensive staff, there are some things we didn’t get to in the offense that maybe we would like to have gotten to a little more. We also saw some things that we wanted to get done, too.”
(more after the jump)
The Creeper Van made its way to Toledo last Friday to check out defensive end commit Chris Wormley as his Toledo Whitmer Panthers took on A.B. Lucas Secondary School. Things I learned about A.B. Lucas: It's located in London, Ontario, Canada, their players are used to CFL rules (i.e. having one of their wideouts run full speed at the line of scrimmage before the snap), and they were terribly undersized and overmatched against a Whitmer squad with a solid amount of Division-I talent on the roster.
Things I learned about Chris Wormley? We'll get to those later, after you see highlights of Chris from the first half of play—plus a post-game interview—before the cupcake-stomping got so out of hand that Whitmer practically had to trot out their JV team in order to not pull a Bret Bielema (Final score: 41-0, with all but six of the points coming in the first half, I believe):
In case you missed it, because I realized the stat line went by rather quickly once I'd already uploaded the video to YouTube, by my count Wormley recorded three tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries, and one sack in a little less than one half of play. He also had one tackle for loss called back on an offensive holding penalty (it's still in the video, as it was all the more impressive since Wormley was the holdee), and the officials let a fair amount of holding go, which was frankly for the best in this game.
Scouting Report: Take this all with a rather large grain of salt, as Wormley faced off against 180-pound Canadian linemen who seemed like polite young men but also not very good at football. The biggest question about Wormley, at least put forth by most of the recruiting services, is whether or not he has a good motor. For the most part, Wormley was in attack mode on every play, and he showed a really nice initial burst off the snap, which enabled him to choose between bull-rushing Terrance and Phillip and simply speed-rushing around the end.
Either way, it usually worked, though there were a couple plays where Wormley got stood up by a double-team on pass plays and didn't do a whole lot to break through—part of this can be chalked up to fatigue (it was 95 degrees at kickoff and Whitmer plays on fieldturf), part potential boredom, and part the fact that one can't expect a defensive lineman on a three-man line to break into the backfield on every play, tiny O-lineman or not.
Wormley's pass rushing ability was on display, as he made his way into the Lucas backfield seemingly whenever he wanted to. He didn't show a wide array of moves off the line, but he didn't really have to—his sack came when nobody decided to block him, and he was able to generate pressure by either engaging with the tackle and shoving him aside or simply running around the edge. He didn't show elite speed off the corner—I thought Mario Ojemudia was more impressive in this regard, although he's a much smaller DE—but his size and strength were a real asset both against the pass and the run.
Speaking of run defense, I really liked Wormley in his limited chances here. On two separate occasions, Lucas decided—for some unbeknownst reason—to run toss sweeps to Wormley's side of the field. Both times, Wormley knocked his blocker into the backfield, shed the block, and chased down the running back in the backfield—probably his two most impressive plays on the evening. When Lucas ran up the middle, at the very least Wormley held his ground, and despite facing double teams he was usually able to cave in the hole and force the play into one of his teammates. He also tracked down a running play eight yards downfield, sticking with the play and closing the gap quickly once he located the ball.
In the end, what stood out to me the most was Wormley's impressive size. Even when he took off his pads near the end of the first half, he was easily the most noticeable player on Whitmer's sideline, and it looks like he's added a decent amount of good weight since last year. At 6'5", he appears to weigh in the neighborhood of 270 pounds, and he's not carrying any unnecessary pounds. He reminds me of a younger Ryan Van Bergen, and like RVB he should be able to play either strongside DE or three-tech DT at the next level, and I believe he can come in right away and compete for playing time (especially with the lack of depth at both those positions).
Listen to me stammer on live radio: Mason Lowry of WRSC Radio, which broadcasts every Whitmer game live (as well as Sylvania Southview, home of Allen Gant), was kind enough to have me on air at halftime and asked a few questions about Wormley, Whitmer grad Kevin Koger, and also Michigan. Here's the audio:
Did I really say I was torn between 9-3 and 8-4 on air? I guess so, and now I guess I'm sticking with it. Thanks to Mason for having me on, especially since he also took the time before the game to tell me everything I needed to know about Whitmer (much of which I promptly forgot, hence identifying all non-Wormley players by their uniform number).
Photos: Thanks once again to Eric for accompanying me and taking a great set of photos:
Next Week: The van heads back to Toledo to watch Allen Gant's Sylvania Southview squad hit the road against Toledo Start.
Previously: Week 1 — Farmington Hills Harrison (Devin Funchess, Mario Ojemudia) vs. Cass Tech (Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson)
If you have any suggestions to help improve future Creeper Van Originals, please leave them in the comments or email me.
9/3/2011 – Michigan 34, Western Michigan 10 – 0.75-0
Q: What is awesome about the above photograph?
A: Brady Hoke's Joe Paterno impression. Look, ma, no headset.
On a day that lacked much in the way of emotional import—Brock Mealer did not touch the banner, Denard Robinson did not introduce himself by plunging from the heavens, mostly I felt hot or wet—the thing to do was read too much into the future of Michigan football based on little. We're going on even less than the rest of college football is after their opening-weekend bludgeonings since Mother Nature and inflexible regulation prevented a full game from being played. Things are fuzzy.
They'll remain that way for most of the season. Hell, they'll remain that way until Michigan's OL/DL depth chart crisis passes in two to three years. But I got the things I wanted the most, the things I spent large sections of the offseason hoping for, arguing would be true, or declaring to be the only sane thing a sane person could do.
BRADY HOKE IS NOT RICH RODRIGUEZ IN RE: COORDINATOR MEDDLING
Rodriguez's problem was never his selection of defensive coordinators, it was his refusal to trust them to do their jobs. The thing about Hoke is this: he does. At SDSU he hired Rocky Long to run a 3-3-5; Rocky Long ran a 3-3-5, and it was pretty good, and now he's the head coach. He hired Al Borges to run a passing-oriented West Coast offense; Borges ran a passing-oriented West Coast offense that wasn't quite as good as Michigan's in FEI's eyes but was still top 20. If he "gets" anything it's that he's a former defensive lineman with a narrowly defined set of assets that does not include being a genius of any variety—he's never been a coordinator. So he's hired two guys with very long, very successful resumes to do that stuff for him.
PRO STYLE IS INSANE STYLE
Switching to an actual pro-style offense would be doing exactly what Michigan did last year when it installed the 3-3-5 despite the total unsuitability of its personnel for the scheme.
DON'T FRIGGIN TOUCH ANYTHING OR I'LL CUT YOU
MOAR SHOTGUN PLZ
Check, check, good enough. Michigan was 70% shotgun.
The offseason was spent exploring the a disconnect between Brady Hoke's words and his teams' actions. The fear was that This being Michigan, for God's sake, would change his attitude from "whatever works" to "the expectation is for the position." That latter was the infamous Carr-era slogan that symbolized a stubborn adherence to out-executing the opposition. It led to things like a thousand Mike Hart zone stretches where he made four yards only after dodging guys in the backfield. I really, really did not want to go back to the days when Michigan's running plays could be described as "left" or "right."
Brady Hoke's words said the first play Saturday would be power; Brady Hoke's team ran the QB stretch that was amongst the most frequent playcalls a year ago. As the game progressed it was clear there had been quite a few modifications. It was also clear that there was enough of the Denard offense in there to go to it when Michigan needs to.
This would have been obvious to all if Denard hadn't chucked a QB Oh Noes well behind Drew Dileo on Michigan's final touchdown drive. If that's accurate Dileo scores on a play eerily similar to those of last year and everyone except Craig James is talking about how different the offense isn't.
That's good right now, and better down the road. It's been a long time since Michigan fans could say their head coach hired the best people for the job and let them get on with it.
Non-Bullets Not About Football
Brady Hoke knew this would happen. On the way back to the locker room his team speared themselves some dinner.
Increment the Grimsrud meter. Last year when Michigan decided that terrorists were likely to explode the stadium with sealed, clear bottles of water, everyone complained until David Brandon rolled his eyes and offered the plebes a freebie for the opener because it was hot.
On Saturday it was ninety degrees and you could buy a not-even-cold bottle of water for four bucks, get a complimentary three-ounce dixie cup, or hit up the Absopure stations. At least until they ran out:
Connor Dean, a Michigan student working at one of the Absopure Hydration stations at the stadium, said his station had exhausted nearly its entire 450-gallon supply of water by halftime.
Dean said a hydration station would typically go through about 225 gallons of water for an entire game. “This is crazy for a normal game,” Dean said.
The athletic department got lucky as hell that the skies opened up shortly afterwards. Even as it was the number of people conking out because of the heat overwhelmed Huron Valley Ambulance:
With temperatures on the field reportedly reaching 120 degrees, the heat overwhelmed fans at Michigan Stadium. Huron Valley Ambulance says the high number of heat-related cases it handled caused it to call for backup from the Ann Arbor Fire Department.
HVA officials said a count of the number of fans who've been treated for heat-related concerns would not be available until later Saturday, and they were too busy to provide even an estimate.
"It's extremely busy at Michigan Stadium,'' said Terry Pappas, communications supervisor for HVA. "We have multiple heat-related incidents and the Ann Arbor Fire Department is helping.''
If it's really about safety, the Absopure stations should be handing out 25-ounce bottles of water that cost ten cents instead of providing little cups you have to wait for and can't get back to your seats effectively. The athletic department's horseshit doublespeak about safety and convenience increased those issues so they could hawk some extra bottles of water. They're using 9/11 as cover. That's appalling.
Apparently posting We Are ND was the right idea for the wrong reasons. We have officially Freekbass'd ourselves, as the Dog Groomers' song was played three times to amaze and delight people who would rather hear these guys…
we are… DOG GROOMERS
we will… SHAVE YOUR DOG'S HAIR INTO A PLEASING SHAPE
also we have a band!
…than the Michigan Marching Band.
We're worse. While they've got a rapping hobbit, We Are ND was an internet-only phenomenon quickly clarified as a student project. It aired once at some banquet or something. We're playing music from The Best of Hot Topic in the stadium. This is the inevitable result when middle-aged middle-managers from Middle America try to be cool: massive failure.
What was so bad about a guy in the band beating out a steady rhythm as the crowd chants "Let's Go Blue"? Why does "This is Michigan, for God's sake" apply to running power off-tackle but not keeping the stadium atmosphere intact? Is there someone in the athletic department who really wishes he was running a regional arena in Charlotte, NC, with an ECHL team and regular WWE visits? Why does the guy on the left still look like an accountant? Who is the guy on the right kidding? Is the bald guy in the middle just photobombing this shot? I fear these questions are unanswerable.
In the spirit of ND Nation banning "Michigan sucks" posts, I will end taunting ND about We Are ND until piped in music is excised from the stadium. We are We Are ND.
Meanwhile, our band is metal. Western's band said "screw this" and showed up in white T-shirts and shorts so they wouldn't die. Ten of them still had to be treated for heat issues. Michigan's band roared out of the tunnel in full dark-blue regalia; while we don't have casualty numbers for them the mere fact that none of them died before completing the anthem is metal. One firehorse for the band.
Analogy to mandatory minimum sentencing goes here. The NCAA's CYA guideline about lightning strikes was the reason Michigan couldn't finish (or all but finish) yesterday's game. The sun had already come out by the time the teams finished getting off the field for the first delay, and that was the reason there was more than a few minutes left on the clock when the seriously dangerous storm rolled in.
Anyone looking at the weather radar could tell you that by the time they delayed the game it was perfectly safe, but lawsuit avoidance rules everything around me, and thus we get a silly abbreviated game that makes the value proposition of a 70 dollar ticket to watch Western Michigan play even dodgier. Boo.
Argh. So last year I'd get to my seat and tweet personnel stuff I noticed in warmups. This year I did the same and just got a bunch of replies that can be summarized as "duh." This is because the U announced suspensions/unavailability an hour before the game. Next time it would be nice if M could do that earlier or not at all. kthxbye.
Non-Bullets About Football
Depth chart/practice rumor updates. The offense was as expected. Brandon Moore got some time as the second TE, which is good.
On defense, Frank Clark had gotten hyped up this fall but it was Brennen Beyer who got a ton of time as a rush end. His main contribution was opening a few cutback lanes for Western. Also infrequently seen: Brink and Heininger. I'm guessing that's an artifact of playing a passing spread… but we'll see a passing spread next week. I'm hoping the massive substitutions were because of the weather and that RVB/Martin/Roh will get way more time against ND. Herron was a surprise starter at WLB and Avery started opposite Woolfolk.
I received a bunch of tweets predicting Carvin Johnson would not score well in UFR, and then he was replaced by Marvin Robinson. Will be interesting to see if that works out.
So weird in so many ways. The game would have been short even if it was long, if you know what I mean. There were all of two drives in the first quarter and Brandon Herron robbed Michigan's offense of two opportunities. As a result the offense only had five and a half drives to work with. They scored 3.5 touchdowns and went three and out twice.
Short term prognosis: grimmer? Less grim? We'll have to see what the UFR looks like but Western went up and down the field against Michigan in a manner reminiscent of everyone against last year's D… and scored ten points. Michigan forced two turnovers with QB pressure and held the best quarterback in the state to 5.9 YPA.
Hack out the Kovacs sacks and WMU averaged 4.9 YPC, which is not good when you're playing a MAC team with two fresh JUCO transfer backups at guard. Also hoping that's a result of the heavy rotation.
The offense had those three and outs, and because of the weird nature of the game that was enough for their output to seem somewhat worrying. They did give the impression they were about to blow the doors off when the game got called, having just blown down the field in three plays and moved the ball into the Western half of the field when the game was called.
Pressure existed. When Mattison figured out rushing four wasn't getting home he turned things around by blitzing like mad. One series late in the first half saw him go cover zero three straight times. On each play a Michigan player would tear up the middle unblocked, forcing Carder to chuck it off his back foot. JT Floyd made a play on the first; the second two were hypothetically open but Carder couldn't get it right because he was busy eating someone's facemask.
Hurray lack of GERG.
Running backs. Toussaint's getting good reviews everywhere and it'll be no different here. To me his most exciting moment was an eight-yard run late when he was cutting behind the backside tackle. He momentarily looked like he'd head inside of Lewan, sucking the linebacker inside, then burst back behind him to pick up good yardage. That was a "whoah, he can do that?" moment reminiscent of his high school film.
My only complaint is that on his long run he tried to truck the safety instead of angling away from him and probably cost himself 10 more yards. That mentality is helpful when he's running up the middle, maybe.
Kovacs preview 2012 preview. There is a 100% chance this is one of the images used for Kovacs next year:
Things I miss. A couple tactical decisions that seem suboptimal:
- The spread punt. I thought it was remarkably effective at holding down return yardage because it gave you six gunners instead of two. When Michigan punted, if the returner got past the first two guys he had 15 yards before the next wave showed up. The only disadvantage is the near-impossibility of faking from it.
- No huddle offense. I liked the concept of tempo as something you were capable of shifting on a regular basis, and it seemed like a good idea to remove the burden of calling audibles from the quarterback.
This is not an endorsement of Rich Rodriguez. Hoke uber alles.
COUCHDATE! Alex Carder, pictured above, just turned the ball over three times and averaged a terrible 5.9 YPA—more than a yard less than the national average—against last year's #108 defense. What do you think this means, Graham Couch?
This weekend — considering the performances of Carder, Denard Robinson and Kirk Cousins — in everyone's eyes, it should be a viable argument, even if not a certain one.
… Even though I truly believe Carder is the best college QB in the state, this column was an interesting social experiment alone, though it wasn't intended to be. … the argument against Carder by so many who had barely heard of him — and the manner in which they argued — was absurd.
It was an interesting social experiment: can a beat writer actually get criticized for being an embarrassing homer by a fan of the team he's covering? Survey says:
As a Western alum living 2k miles away, I really wish the Broncos had a better beat writer.
Sorry GC but I hate your style and you come off as a whiny, rambling, non-objective homer. I can appreciate the passion you have for defending our boys but just put the shovel down because you're digging a deeper hole for yourself. Just stick to the facts and give us information about our teams. You lose all credibility and professionalism as soon as you try to sell the reader your opinions.
Circle gets the square. /gameshow'd
AnnArbor.com surveys the changes at the golf course and find people are happier this year but still a little peeved that there had to be any changes at all.
MVictors and John Kryk find previous times when Michigan games have ended before full time. They're mostly from the days when you could accidentally play a 23-minute third quarter before anyone noticed. Greg also explores whether or not Brandon Herron's interception return TD was the longest in Michigan history or if Tom Harmon has him beat.
Shooting Blue returns with a long gameday review. Pop Evil "could only be worse" if the lead singer clubbed seals while Godwinning himself. Maize and Go Blue hit up Oklahoma this weekend and returns with a trip report.
Column type things: Wojo references the "numbingly familiar" defense. Get Rid of the Seaward is enjoy its first Michigan season in a while with normal LDH levels, which means cancer remission. Denard on Toussaint. Maize And Go Blue recaps the game. Holdin' the Rope:
As the rain fell and Brady Hoke patrolled the field as if he'd been around for a while already, as if it was undeniably his field and his program and not one that had just been handed to him only 8 months ago, it was hard not to come away with certain vague feelings of goodness, that something that was more good than bad had just transpired, a feeling of warmth that may or may not be ephemeral. The Era of Good Feelings continues. James Monroe's got nothing on Brady Hoke.
Aaaaaand the Hoover Street Rag "writes under the influence of muscle relaxers and pain killers."
More bullets can be found at TTB…
Apparently it doesn't matter who coaches the special teams, whether it's an offensive or defensive guy, etc. Some Michigan fans hated that defensive backs coach Tony Gibson was in charge of special teams because he was one of only four defensive coaches under Rodriguez. Now an offensive guy (tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno) is coaching special teams, and they're still bad. Kick returner Kelvin Grady doesn't look like anything special and made a bad decision to leave the endzone. Brendan Gibbons had a low extra point attempt blocked. Western Michigan averaged 31 yards per kickoff return and consistently had excellent field position.
and The Wolverine Blog.
And if you're looking for a few bullets on Michigan State, A Beautiful Day For Football provides. Sounds like that OL is going to be a problem. Also Minnesota and Northwestern had meaningful outings—Heiko will debut a weekly thing covering opponents tomorrow.