"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
The Michigan Daily reports this doozy of a rumor:
Some sources tell me that the Athletic Department is looking into a home game against the University of Georgia in 2010, one that would also bring the Wolverines to Athens in 2011.
Whaaaa? A quick check of Georgia's future schedules reveals an open date in 2010 but the opening week of the season is currently filled by Louisiana Lafayette. UGA's other nonconference games that year are @ Colorado and @ Georgia Tech. In 2011, Georgia's schedule is already complete, with home games against Louisville, GT and a couple of cupcakes lined up.
To add Michigan, Georgia would have to…
- accept three nonconference road games against legit opponents in 2010,
- accept three nonconference home games against legit opponents in 2011,
- move the Louisiana Lafayette game, and
- cancel an existing 2011 game.
The former two would be unusual for any college football team not named USC. The latter two cost money. The athletic department can "look into" a home-and-home with Georgia all they want, but UGA is an poor fit for a home-and-home over the next couple years. They are not likely to go for it; if they do they're likely to demand exorbitant terms that Michigan will balk at.
Articles on CT LB Khari Fortt, OH CB commit Courtney Avery (second), OH DT Jibreel Black, PA QB Malik Stokes, CA RB Dietrich Riley, LA WR commit Drew Dileo, FL RB Eduardo Clements, OH RB Andre Givens, GA DE Henry Anderson, NY DE Dominique Easley.
Removed DC LB Javarie Johnson(Miami), FL CB Lo Wood (ND), FL RB Roy Finch (OK), OH LB Jordan Hicks (dropped M), OH DE Jibreel Black (IU!?), MI RB Nick Hill (MSU), FL WR OJ Ross (M outside of top 5), MD S Lamarcus Coker (dropped M), FL WR Chris Dunkley (dropped M).
Added GA DT Mike Thornton, FL WR Quinton Dunbar.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Not a whole lot of movement this week except in one direction: off the board.
An interesting week in departures. FL WR OJ Ross listed a top five without Michigan in it; though I'd usually wait for a couple more articles that were more explicit, I'm being ruthless on the WR board given all the commits. He's gone. OH LB Jordan Hicks not including Michigan amongst his final six was no surprise, and FL CB Lo Wood's commitment to ND had been expected for a while. Michigan will pick up corners rated higher than Wood, whose early hype gave way to eh ratings and a lack of in-state interest. So yeah no surprises there. Four removals are of note, though:
FL RB Roy Finch committed to Oklahoma. If Michigan wasn't going to get Finch, and there wasn't any interest expressed there, that's the best spot for him to go as it might cause some wobble in the commitment of CA RB and former Forcier teammate Brennan Clay. Possibly-dubious rumors that Clay's commitment is not rock solid persist.
MI RB Nick Hill committed to Michigan State. Hill camped at Michigan and did not get an offer, at which point State swooped in for the rebound. More on Hill in the section on tailbacks.
OH DT/DE Jibreel Black committed to… Indiana? WTF? That one hurts. Black had sliced his list to Cinci, Kentucky, Indiana, State, and M, and unless there's an ulterior motive on a list like that, that usually presages a commitment to M. Black was a three-and-a-half star sort who would have been an excellent fit as the three-tech DT in Michigan's new defense; instead he's signed up to get his head caved in for four years. There's no accounting for taste.
Black's ulterior motive, by the way: his older brother currently plays for IU.
DC LB Javarie Johnson committed to Miami. That also hurts. Johnson showed well at camps and had high upside; he reacted so positively to his Michigan unofficial that one of his coaches told a Scout guy that he had committed. Instead he's off to Miami, depriving Michigan's recruiting board of a badly needed athletic strongside linebacker type.
Eeee eeee eeee
Yet more recruitin' video on MI QB Devin Gardner, seen here throwing some passes at the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp. More impressive are the clips of Gardner playing receiver; he looks like Braylon crossed with a bull.
You know how Ohio State got a fade touchdown in their bowl game last year by having Boeckman chuck it to Pryor? Yeah, I think we should teach Devin Gardner the fade route. Here's what I'd say if I was Tony Dews: "go over there and run to the corner of the endzone. Then be 6'5" and capable of leaping over most of Andorra."
So Nick Hill goes off the board to State, and we're one step closer to completing the odd reversal from early expectations. MI RB Austin White committing to Michigan would be the final step. He remains a Michigan lean:
… U-M’s best chance is with White, who has been a slight Michigan lean since the spring.
Since it's White who's got the higher recruiting rankings and better offers I'm fine with that; also White's camp performance was considerably better than Hill's.
The other big fish Michigan is in the mix for is FL RB Eduardo Clements, who camped and now has a solid top three of Georgia, Michigan, and Miami. Clements on M:
“The whole coaching staff is a great group of guys. The things Coach Rich (Rodriguez) is trying to do with the offense this year, and the guys from Miami (area) who are there now look like they will play early. I just liked the whole campus and the whole atmosphere.”
That's not a final list above, however, and Clements currently plans on taking all his officials. Michigan will get a return visit. Since Clements was thought to be favoring Georgia before his camp swing, that's a win.
Meanwhile, OH RB Andre Givens is concentrating on the Big East($); his Michigan offer may not come with a lot of recruiting behind it as Michigan focuses on White and Clements.
That article cited above with an Austin White lean also has less salutary news on a couple of instate prospects:
[Dior] Mathis has recently expressed a strong affinity for Oregon, while [CJ] Olaniyan appears to be favoring Michigan State and Penn State.
FWIW. That would be a major change on Mathis; Olaniyan is supposed to be pretty wide open still; he's only moved to Michigan in the last few years and doesn't have any particular affinity for the local programs.
From the South But Not Married To It
Ah, so this is why Michigan's got a half-decent shot at GA DE Henry Anderson:
Both of Anderson's parents graduated from Wisconsin and he plans to head to Madison in the near future for an unofficial visit and then narrow his list further. Anderson is looking for the best school for him on an off the field. He plans to major in either business or political science and then head to law school once his playing days are over.
Michigan is in a leading group of eight.
Shirtlessness is contagious
We have our first OMG shirtless punter ever:
That's WI P Will Hagerup, who has a Michigan offer and appears to be the top punter in the country according to issued offers. He took a visit to campus recently, perhaps attempting to gather information on the program so he can decide whether he wants to commit before Michigan offers MI P Mike Sadler and other folks. I bet something shakes out soon here.
Ah so, hello, eventually
Here's a new cornerback on the radar who favors Michigan and will probably commit soon:
[Greg] Brown’s first scholarship offer came from Central Michigan. While he was camping in the state of Michigan, Brown came away with two new scholarship offers.
“Michigan State and Michigan, they both offered after camp,” Brown said. “Michigan is my favorite. I’m probably going to decide pretty soon.”
Hey, cool. Small catch: Brown is a member of the class of 2011. IE: a rising junior. So, yeah. Not of immediate help. But a couple Big Ten offers by the summer of your junior year presages a nice ranking when it comes time for that, and Brown is from Fremont Ross, the home of a slightly good cornerback named Woodson.
Etc.: Fluff on NY DE Dominique Easley; don't get your hopes up there. CT LB Khari Fortt speculated to Penn State. FL WR Quinton Dunbar plans an official visit, FWIW. Highly likely to stay in-state. Fluffs one and two on OH CB commit Courtney Avery. This article on LA WR commit Drew Dileo has the worst tile ever. CA RB/S Dietrich Riley smoked the USC Rising Stars camp.
Ohio defensive end Derrick Bryant said Michigan lead very early in the recruiting cycle, but decided against a commitment and has recently claimed to be more open in the rare instances the recruiting sites have nailed him down for an interview. Tom caught up with him recently, however, and got the latest.
A note: though Michigan told Holmes Onwukaife his spot was filled, Bryant is regarded by as a strongside defensive end. Michigan needs guys on the strongside.
TOM: We haven’t heard much from you, what’s been going on?
DERRICK: I have about 13 or 14 offers right now. Michigan is still one of my favorites. I just recently got UCLA, Oregon, Purdue, and North Carolina. Those are the latest ones. I’d like to go back to Michigan this summer, and take another visit. I’m not sure if I’m going to take any visits this summer though.
TOM: Ok, so what are your plans for the summer?
DERRICK: I’ll pretty much do my research, talk to the coaches, and get ready for the season.
TOM: Do you know which schools are going to get an official visit?
DERRICK: I’m going to take on to UCLA, Oregon, and North Carolina since they’re all far. I was told by someone that I should use my official visits for the far schools, and visit the closer ones like Michigan on my own. It’s easier that way, since the officials are paid for.
TOM: I haven’t seen your name at any camps either. Have you been to any camps yet?
DERRICK: I’m just going to be a monster in the weight room, and getting ready for the season. I’m happy with the offers I have, and I want to make a decision off the list I already have. The schools that have talked to me already, are the schools I want to choose from. I’m not doing any camps or combines. I don’t really need to prove anything else to anybody, and I plan on having a break out season this year too.
TOM: What’s your timeline look like for making a decision?
DERRICK: I would like to do it midway through my season. That’s why I told all the coaches that I want to come to campus early, so I can decide. I’m looking at the depth charts pretty close. Oregon and UCLA have been talking about playing time and how many other defensive ends they’ll have once I get up there.
TOM: So, what happened? Michigan was on top, you even said you think you’d fit like a glove, and then you went quiet.
DERRICK: There was a point in time, when I was going to get it over with and commit. Michigan is still one of my top schools. My coaches and my Dad, who was recruited for basketball, told me to just wait, because there might be another school that I like too. I need to look at it as a football player and student, rather than just a fan, because I’m a very big Michigan fan. I’m going to be there the next four years, so it’s important. When I went to Michigan for the spring game, I loved everything, so they’re still one of my favorites. It wasn’t anything negative, I just want to wait.
TOM: What aspects of the other schools have you been looking at?
DERRICK: I would like to take my official visits first before I can answer that. I haven’t seen everything about all the schools. Every coach says they’re the best, and they have this and that. I want to go on as many visits and see everything for myself.
TOM: Which schools have caught your interest the most?
DERRICK: Michigan, Oregon, UCLA, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas. Those are the top schools right now.
TOM: When is your recruitment going to pick back up?
DERRICK: Probably the end of summer is when you’ll be hearing from me again. I’ll start to pick it back up then, so I can stay focused on my season next year. I’d like to start getting it back on track, so I can build some more relationships with coaches and everything.
6/28/2009 – USA 2, Brazil 3 – Confederations Cup Runners Up
Note: yeah, this is Off Topic, but 1) this is also way more interesting than anything else going on at the moment, 2) I reserve the right to wander off the reservation in the hard offseason, and 3) I'm slightly tired of recruiting-recruiting-recruiting. Aren't you? Coming up tomorrow: Wednesday Recruitin'!
Here's Clint Dempsey holding the "bronze ball" bestowed on the FIFA-approved third-best player at the Confederations Cup. Here is a brief list of the folks Dempsey finished in front of:
- That white guy on South Africa
- Everyone on Brazil not named Kaka or Fabiano
That is an impressive array of players to beat out. And yet Dempsey looks like he's auditioning for The Hangover 2 or Fully, Completely Baked. This is because the United States has just found out that there is a way to lose to Brazil 3-2 and feel agonized, that, yes, there is such a thing as crashing out for you who thought yourself immune.
Sitting there in the aftermath of Brazil's comeback was one of the strangest feelings I've had as a sports fan. To demonstrate: I was going to put an adjective on "comeback" there and considered both "stunning" and "inevitable." Words literally fail. Maybe there's something in German for it. Schiessenkopffrauballsdammit: the feeling you have when the incredibly improbable thing you dreaded and feared comes to pass, just like you knew it would. (See: 2005 Ohio State game.)
That was the nature of this deeply bizarre tournament. Bludgeoned and discarded in the first games, the United States retroactively justified my friend's terror that the Honduras game would not end with a result and that this would surely put the Nats in an honest-to-god World Cup qualification dogfight—in CONCACAF! Late in the dire Brazil drubbing, another friend asked me what we should do and I succumbed to pure reactionary talk-radio blithering: "Fire Bradley," I muttered, and said no more.
From that moment on the US put together the most brilliant two-and-a-half game run in probably their entire history: 3-0 over Egypt, 2-0 over Spain, and 2-0 over Brazil. Yeah, they were on the back foot for about 60 minutes of the Spain game, but dos a cero is dos a cero. If only soccer finals were 45 minutes long. (While we're at it: if only soccer finals were 45 minutes long and banned people fluent in Portuguese.)
They are not, and we are left with our schiessenkopffrauballsdammit.
I don't have any other soccer team. The nearest MLS team are in Chicago and Columbus and Toronto, none of which I can root for on geographical principle. If I was to pick up one of the big four in the EPL I might as well just go the whole nine yards, buy a Yankees hat, USC jersey, Duke shorts, and Lakers shoes, and shoot myself.
But what's the point of rooting for Fulham? Good job lads, you didn't get sent to purgatory… this year. European soccer is structured such that you can either pick the Yankees or the Toledo Mud Hens. The Mud Hens have as much of a chance at winning the World Series as Wigan has of winning the Premiership. But Wigan fans don't seem to mind. Win some games, lose some games, sing about Emile Heskey emerging from a radioactive lagoon during a terrible thunderstorm, end of story let's get a pint.
On the other hand, even the lowliest American franchise has aspirations to greatness. A few years ago the Penguins were awful enough to get like three consecutive top-three picks. The Patriots were a laughingstock for most of their existence. The Spurs were some random team in San Antonio before Tim Duncan arrived. The Cardinals won the World Series despite being like four games above .500. Everyone can strive. Even Clippers fans eagerly await the day Donald Sterling dies. "Look at the Blackhawks!" they say before returning to Bill Simmons' annual fantasy football draft-stravaganza. This is a blessing and a curse.
The curse section is provided Brian Phillips on the outstanding Run of Play:
I'm more interested in seeing the run through this tournament, and the Spain game above all, as something to celebrate for its own sake, without thinking about next year or whether it's safe to nudge up my expectations. I'm sure I'm not alone in that, but partly thanks to Bradley's understandable emphasis in his postgame remarks, so much of the coverage has skirted the "what does this mean?" question that I've spent most of the last 24 hours wanting to take an anchorperson by his lapels and scream "We #$*%ing BEAT SPAIN! Doesn't that matter more than abstract 'potential'?"
Yes, because it probably doesn't mean much in the scheme of things. Spain and Brazil showed their quality, and while it's great the US beat one and took the other to the limit, what that says is that the US can scrap with teams better than they are. The World Cup group is going to have between one and three teams better than the Nats, and there will be scrapping.
This is foreign to the national state of mind. The United States does not scrap except maybe in rhythmic gymnastics and kayaking and other things dreamed up by commies trying to get up to par in gold medals. When the US decided to get super-serious about soccer, they dreamed up "Project 2010," which was supposed to "ensure the US Men's National team was a legitimate threat to win the World Cup by 2010," emphasis mine because WTF? Win? We are Americans, and it doesn't matter if we have the resources of the Kansas City Royals. We have Yankee dreams.
So what the Brazil game was was a chance. A stupid, improbable chance built on equal parts grit, skill, and astounding luck; a chance to slay two giants back-to-back and scramble up to the pinnacle of world football for somewhere between sixty seconds and a day before the ground gave way and it was back to Grenada and Haiti. So I appreciate *#$&ing beating Spain but also feel like Dempsey above, holding a trophy he had no right to expect and thinking of what might have been.
- So a major reason this post exists was the large influx of soccer emails into the inbox. Aaron Rennie's contribution: "The first half was like the best blowjob you've had in your life; the second was discovering you got it from a dude." Funny, but it's not like I started questioning which team I was rooting for later. I have my cool group of local friends because a couple people knew I liked soccer and needed someone to watch it with and joined up with us; I feel I owe Arriaga II, God of Soccer, a tribute.
- You know, I had bought into Harkes' gratuitously negative take on Dempsey in the Egypt match—when I deigned to tweet about the 3-0 win, I mentioned Dempsey had been "terrible" or "awful" or something like that—but then I re-watched the first half a couple days ago and saw him set up the US's two best scoring opportunities of the first half with incisive passes. There really needs to be a Nats UFR.
- …which might fall to me, actually. I'm seriously considering starting up a USMNT blog with a couple friends (so that the burden on me is not extensive enough to hamper MGoActivities, of course). Name suggestions welcome.
- I wasn't thrilled with Bocanegra at left back but that might have something to do with the fact he was coming off injury and playing against Spain and Brazil; he was clearly less overmatched than Bornstein. Bocanegra-Demerit-Onyewu-Spector/Cherundolo should be the backline going forward, with Hedjuk around to come on as a lead-protecting substitute and all around insane hairy guy.
- Bornstein, meanwhile, might see his spot yoinked by Edgar Castillo, the Texican left back who appears frozen out of Los Douchebags' plans. That would make the USA 2/2 on grabbing newly-eligible defectors.
- Argh Rossi.
- Actually read some insane Big Soccer criticisms in the wake of the first couple matches directed at Howard because "the book" on him had become clear: shoot miraculous 30-yarders. When that's all they can say about you…
- What happens when Ching is available? Davies ran around and did some stuff and scored an Eckstein goal and had that gorgeous assist to Donovan. But Jozy's not much of a holding or linkup forward right now. He is a beast who is fast and huge and could conceivably function as a Charlie Davies who ate a steroid-laced power mushroom. Ching and Jozy worked very well together before Ching's injury, and then you get to bring Davies' pace off the bench.
- Similarly, once Edu and Jermaine Jones start pushing for central midfield slots the competition will be as brutal as it gets on the US National Team. Clark might get pushed to the bench even after turning in a very strong Confederations Cup; he's not likely to go without a fight.
- Side benefit: you've seen the last of Kljestan against teams outside of CONCACAF. (Or I'll die.)
- Jozy watch: Villareal just sold Nihat. He was injury-plagued and not a consistent starter, but maybe that opens up space for Altidore to be a consistent substitute?
- While we're at it, Dan Levy has an excellent article at TSB on ESPN's impact on the Future we're trying so hard not to consider at the moment.
2010 SG/SF Tim Hardaway, Jr., has committed to Michigan. UMHoops, linked there, has your googlestalk for you. As to who this guy is—other than the son of Tim Hardaway:
Hardaway is a 6-foot-4 lanky shooting guard with excellent length who is a great three point shooter. He’s not as athletic as Casey Prather and his offensive game isn’t as refined as Trey Zeigler’s but there is no doubt that he is the best shooter of the bunch.
File this guy under Vogrich/Douglass/Novak, not Manny.
The obvious question is "what about Zeigler and Prather?" Both of those guys are wing forward sorts who can fill the shot creation and penetration role that Harris has thus far in the Beilein regime; Hardaway does not fill their spot. It does, however, terminate the (faint, thrilling) possibility that Beilein could somehow snag both. While Rivals and Scout both give him an anonymous three-star ranking, ESPN has them in their top 100 at #93.
And it's worth repeating: Hardaway is another guy who fits in the Beilein mold, a lanky 6'4" shooter with the sort of basketball IQ you'd expect given his bloodlines; this is what the bulk of the roster is going to look like, in varying heights, as long as Beilein is in town.
The Rest of 2010: Lock down a high-rated wing forward who can be Harris and call it a day. Laugh about grabbing Smotrycz ten seconds before he blew up Bikini Atoll style. Prepare for many shots of Tim Hardaway in the crowd.
And 2011? Michigan loses Wright and Harris after 2010 so there will be at least two spots open. C Amir Williams, SG Brandan Kearney, PG Patrick Lucas-Perry, and combo guard Carlton Brundidge are the plan A folk.
The week-to-week minutiae of recruiting can sometimes obscure the larger picture.From time to time this here blog likes to provide a 1,000 foot view so people can have context going forward. Details below are designed to be sparse. The offense was treated to a similar overview a couple weeks ago.
Also sorry it's late but I think you'll see why. The recruiting board, as always, lives here.
They remain the same: Michigan has 20 scholarships to give out next year under these assumptions:
- No attrition
- Cone and Wright aren't extended fifth years
- Kelvin Grady, George Morales, and Nick Sheridan aren't on scholarship next year
2 is a solid assumption; 1 is probably goofy, and 3 is solid on Sheridan and unknown on Grady and Morales.
Needs: Well… dude, I just don't know yet. Michigan's move to the 4-3 under (mostly) leaves everyone's positions a mess. There are approximately three different sorts of things you can do on the defensive line:
- Be the nose tackle. Play shaded over the center, take on a lot of double teams with an idea towards splitting them, and disrupt the strongside A gap like whoah. Sophomore Mike Martin is your starter backed up by Renaldo Sagesse and Will Campbell. Martin and Campbell are both underclassmen so they'd like to get some numbers here but they only need one as they have no seniors.
- Be the deathbacker. Be a hybrid DE/OLB that can be considerably lighter than a conventional defensive end. You sit outside the weakside tackle and threaten to death him to death (ie: murder the quarterback). Michigan's current options here are not great: converted TE Steve Watson plus converted. LBs Brandon Herron and Marrell Evans, plus probably freshmen Craig Roh and Anthony Lalota.
- Be the strongside defensive end or three-technique DT. These are the guys who flank the nose tackle and their duties appear pretty similar; multiple recruits have mentioned that playing SDE and DT in this defense is pretty much the same, and you can see that in the projected starting lineups: Brandon Graham's backup, Ryan Van Bergen, is now the starting three-tech DT. The DE has to be more of a pass-rush threat, I guess, but these guys are going to be big guys ranging from 260 to 290. Graham, Van Bergen, Patterson, and Banks are your two-deep here: all guys who will be gone in two years except for Van Bergen.
This has turned into a dissertation on defensive line responsibilities in the new defense. Anyway: Michigan wants one nose and probably at least two SDE/DT prospects, and already has two deathbackers.
Commitments: Michigan has deathbacker commits from PA DE Jordan Paskorz (right) and PA DE Ken Wilkins. Both are three-star sorts with okay-not-great offers that Michigan hopes are reflective of their tweener status. That's an issue defenses that require different things from their defensive ends, but under Greg Robinson it's all good as long as you're an athlete like whoah.
One thing on Wilkins: despite that combine that claimed him at 225, many, many sources since then have him at 6'4", 240; other reports also question his agility. 240 + 6'4" + lack of agility + two years with Barwis + "good frame" == 270-280 == SDE. "But if Michigan saw him as an SDE wouldn't they have taken Holmes Onwukaife?" you ask, and I reply "don't be a pest."
Realistic Future Options: This is where it gets dodgy. Michigan's apparently taken a pass on MI DT Jonathan Hankins, at least for now, leaving very few NT candidates on the board. There's Sharrif Floyd, who everyone wants and Michigan should get a visit from, Samoan Mormon Ricky Heimuli, and OH DT Terry Talbott. The vibe I get on Floyd is that Michigan isn't in great spot; M is just a letter to Heimuli; and Talbott is just a name right now, and one of those meh three-stars at that.
At SDE/DT, the only green on the board belongs to Marcus Rush, who continues to maintain that Michigan leads but also seems locked into deathbacking and might not have a committable offer in the wake of Paskorz and Wilkins, and Derrick Bryant, who said Michigan led a long time ago and then hasn't been heard from since except when a rumor mentions there's been some parting of the ways.
Past that there are a lot of southern guys who have expressed little interest in their Michigan offers, instate DE CJ Olaniyan, and NY DE Dominique Easley. FL DE Corey Lemonier and GA DE Henry Anderson have (erratically) expressed desires to visit too, but of the people on the board right now I think you'll see one guy actually commit and then you're looking at Defensive End Taylor Lewan, hopefully.
Level of PANIC: 4/5. Michigan really should fill three more spots on the defensive line in this class but it's hard to see where they come from. This only compounds the hole left by the signing-day defections of Pearlie Graves and Dequinta Jones. It looks like more of the same the rest of the way out.
Needs: The only senior is WLB Stevie Brown. Mike Jones, Isaiah Bell, and Brandin Hawthorne all come in as safety-sized outside linebackers, so Michigan needs one guy in the middle and maybe a one or two on the outside.
Commitments: Youngstown Liberty offered up its third player in two years when Antonio Kinard committed at junior day. At the time I thought Kinard was likely headed for deathbacker, too, but now it seems he'll come in as a middle linebacker.
And then there's Marvin Robinson, who may or may not be a safety. Recruiting analysts say he's a weakside linebacker; Robinson, and apparently the Michigan coaches, have him a strong safety. He's addressed in the secondary for now; be advised that if Michigan pulls in like three corners and two non-Robinson safeties I'm moving him to linebacker whether he wants to go there or not.
Realistic Future Options: Uh. MD LB Josh Furman has some ridiculous combine numbers, offers from Oklahoma and others, and plans a visit in the near future. He also looks indie like Dhani Jones, which can't hurt.
MD LB Troy Gloster has Michigan in his top five of strong academic schools. TX LB Corey Nelson is the teammate of RB/slot commit Tony Drake; Michigan is outside his top five but should, apparently, get a visit. For now. There's also Onwukaife if he decides he does want to play linebacker.
Only Nelson is a blue-chip there, though Furman certainly has promise. Michigan missed out on a couple of in-state guys (Daniel Easterly and Austin Gray) by not offering; if they get involved with either they may get a look.
Level of PANIC: 3/5. There's not a huge need at this spot but you'd like to see two guys, and here we're again banking on the Michigan coaching staff having information no one else does about low-rated, unoffered Kinard.
Needs: No one graduates, but the two-deep had a walk-on on it this spring and only two guys come in to reinforce. Also, Donovan Warren might be an early-entry candidate if he suddenly lives up to his recruiting hype. I consistently overestimate the corner need, but now it's tradition: I'd like to see them take three.
Commitments: OH CB Courtney Avery flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan after picking up an M offer at summer camp. Avery's not highly rated but Michigan got an extended look and decided to shoot him an offer; in that situation you can reasonably assume the coaching staff does have information no one else does.
Realistic Future Options: Here, at least, it appears Michigan has enough candidates who list Michigan strongly to pick up a strong class. PA CB Cullen Christian is Scout's #3 corner and should be due for a major move up on Rivals when they rerank; he has all but said he will commit to Michigan at some point in the future whenever anyone has asked him for months.
So that's in all probability two. Would they take a third? I would; these days your nickel corner is probably more important than whichever linebacker comes off the field in a passing situation. They have options: Cass Tech mighty dwarf Dior Mathis and Rashad Knight have publicly proclaimed Michigan leads, and supposed Miami lock Tony Grimes came back from his Michigan visit saying things along the lines of—but not quite—"Michigan leads." FL CB Travis Williams, who tried to commit on a visit of his own but was put off, may also be an option.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. Michigan will probably pull in three good corners.
Needs: No one graduates here, so that's good. Not so good: only having four scholarship bodies covering two starting spots. Michigan should be looking to take at least two.
Commitments: FL S Marvin Robinson made what everyone had been expecting forever official by committing a few months ago. Six-pack coming at you, ladies:
Though Robinson didn't turn out to be the five-star lock everyone said he was a couple years back, he's a highly-rated four-star just outside of the Rivals 100.
Realistic Future Options: The big name is Glenville S Latwan Anderson, who was the best uncommitted player at Michigan's camp. He has Michigan second on an ordered list of five schools; supposedly M and WVU—the #1—are distant from the chasing pack of three southern schools. I still get the vibe that Anderson is headed elsewhere, as MGoBlog Recruiting Heuristic #4 is "if a player leaves a visit to your school saying someone else leads, you are in trouble." But maybe he's waiting around to confirm the competency, or lack thereof, of Bill Stewart before committing to a program that no longer has the primary reason anyone outside of West Virginia would be a fan of the program.
Two other players have Michigan in a small leading group: OH S Kurtis Drummond says Michigan and State lead, and SC S Detrick Bonner was the subject of an odd article recently in which he claimed a Michigan offer and said Michigan was his favorite despite no one ever hearing of him. There are a number of other guys from Maryland, the West Coast, and Ohio who Michigan would go for.
Level of PANIC: 1/5. Robinson's an excellent start; Anderson would be a great finish. That's slightly unlikely, though, but they've got enough guys on the board to pick up a solid second option.
Needs: They need one with the departure of Zoltan.
Realistic Future Options: It will probably be one of three players Michigan has identified already. WI P Will Hagerup already has an offer and appears to be the #1 choice. He's got offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Wisconsin, and many others—he's probably the best punter in the country this year.
If it's not Hagerup, it will probably be FL P Brandon Tarpley or MI P Mike Sadler.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. It really sounds like Sadler's just waiting for an offer to drop, so Michigan will pick up either the top punter or third-best (-ish) in the country. He won't be Zoltan but he should be decent.
Let me first state something for the record before offering up an e-pinion here. Yes, seven years of program building at West Virginia and yet more elsewhere far outweigh the opinions of recruiting gurus. I don't want to get into one of those dumb arguments where someone says something mildly critical, someone else replies with something defensive that slightly escalates the stakes, and twenty post later it's turned into a catfight with both sides annihilating strawmen like "recruiting rankings are 100% infallible" and "this recruiting class dooms Rich Rodriguez." Recruiting is one important aspect of a program; it's far from the only one.
You've probably figured out where this is going during the disclaimer, but here goes anyway: I'm not thrilled over here. It looks like the secondary recruiting will be about on par with a typical Michigan class, with two high profile stars, a couple middling four-stars behind them, and then a couple three-star-sorts with promise on the back end. Linebacker and defensive line are another matter, with three eh (Paskorz, Kinard) to eh-plus (Wilkins) recruits in the bag and what looks like zero four-stars Michigan has a strong shot except maybe Sharrif Floyd, and that's tentative. (I am excluding Corey Nelson and Corey Lemonier here.)
There is a lot of time left and all that, but the this gaussian distribution is centered on Moderately Disappointing. Thrilling is three standard deviations away.
I've said this before and here I go again: none of this is surprising after a 3-9 season; teams have been turning in disappointing recruiting years the year after they crater for a while now and that effect gets even more pronounced as recruiting continues to slide forward in the calendar year; it's good that Michigan has hold of a coach who has turned classes far more star-bereft than this one projects to be into national title contenders; I still think this is going to be a drag on Michigan's ability to be a national contender, albeit a small one.
Michigan recruits selected:
Chris Brown: Round 2, Pick 6 to Phoenix
Good news here; Phoenix has a history of taking Michigan players and allowing them to develop in Ann Arbor. Both Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter stayed four years. Brown's a higher pick than either and may get enticed early, but his flight risk dropped today despite going high in the second round.
Kevin Lynch: Round 2, Pick 26 to Columbus
Lynch's (@ right) flight up draft boards concludes with a second-round pick. Columbus doesn't have a history with the Michigan program either way.
Mac Bennett: Round 3, Pick 18 to Montreal
This selection is somewhat frightening. Bennett has another year of prep school before he arrives at Michigan and Montreal is the sort of team that could push him to the QMJHL. The Canadiens have yoinked Mike Komisarek (two years) and Max Pacioretty (one year) before their eligibility was up. Those guys were first-rounders, however, and Bennett's considerably further down the pole.
AJ Treais, Lee Moffie, Derek Deblois: Undrafted.
As expected, though there was a chance one might go late.
Ten minutes. Of electric alumni schmoozin'. Go.
Why, in a sentence. The Orlando Sentinel talked with Urban Meyer about many things, amongst them frequent sharing of information between coaches in the offseason. Meyer's begun to cut things down, and Rodriguez is one of the guys who they're no longer exchanging with. The reason:
We always do it. Rich Rodriguez? We used to do it all the time [when he was at West Virginia], but now he's at Michigan and a competitor in recruiting so we don't anymore.
Not a particularly strong competitor in recruiting after a 3-9 year, but enough of one to yoink Denard Robinson and Marvin Robinson, something that would not have happened at West Virginia.
The rest of the interview is worth a read, too, as it touches on a lot of the issues anyone who is a spread-first sort of coach has to deal with:
…Heading into the draft people were wondering if Percy Harvin's three years of running bubble screens meant he couldn't run a simple dig and the rest of the routes on the passing tree.
MEYER: He can run it better than most; and if someone is paying him $20 million, he'll run a great dig route. It's interesting that you say that. I don't hear it a lot, maybe in recruiting once in a while, but I did hear a NFL coach saying something about that. I like to do my homework. I went and checked the record of that coach and the guy barely had a .500 record. There are certain people I'll have a discussions with. And if I hear something like that, that's not a person I want to have a discussion with. That's nonsense. That's someone putting too much value on scheme rather than personnel."
FTR, I will run a great dig route for far less. It will be half as fast, but it will be awesome. I will bring a vuvuzela and those shoes with LEDs in the heels. Bidding starts at a measly one million dollars.
NO THIS ISN'T EXCESSIVELY DRAMATIC: it's Iran on the golf course. Ann Arbor Golf & Outing runs the golf course next to the stadium which has been primo tailgating territory since the dawn of time. Over the years, folk have congregated in bunches with their friends and—well, you're probably familiar with the logistics here. But now you will submit to order, tailgaters, or you will be thrown out of the garden:
• Canopies are allowed at no extra charge but must be no larger than 10' by 12' and must be placed at the front or back of your vehicle. Charges for canopies may be levied in 2010.
• For safety and efficiency, vehicles will be directed to specific spaces as they enter the grounds. Group parking at a favorite spot will no longer be allowed.
This has caused a lot of consternation, as you might imagine, on message boards and the like. A typical example can be found at MATW:
So long, sand trap. Goodbye
pine urinalshady pine tree. So long, large, enjoyable group tailgate where everyone meets at the same spot every week, every year. Instead, hello parking garage-like cash grab where cars are packed in closer than can be imagined and the AAGO lines their pockets with a few extra G's. … This policy was implemented because the AAGO continues to expand on their unofficial policy of greed and hypocrisy. Instead of thinking about how to raise revenue without alienating customers, the AAGO jumped to the easiest solution.
MATW has a suggestion: allow the hardcore to purchase a pre-paid season ticket for a little bit more—taking the risk of a golf course rainout—and congregate wherever they please a little early. I don't have a personal stake in this, as my tailgate from the Paleozoic is elsewhere, but I hate to see Michigan traditions erased in the pursuit of a buck. If you're pissed off at the change I'd take the opportunity to let them know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, a Downfall parody seems in order.
Oh argh oh argh argh oh. I've been trying to call out stupid people for being stupid less frequently of late—part of being respectable and all that—but holy God I've reached my limit on CFN again and it's time empty both barrels.
Two straws floated down onto my hump recently. The first: a thing about which coaches are "on the hotseat." The hotseat is not a nebulous concept. In all cases its usage is meant to indicate a coach who is in serious danger of losing his job unless he performs this year. So, since this is CFN and Rich Rodriguez is in zero danger of being fired in just his second year at Michigan it will surprise you not at all to find out that virtually every responder cites Rodriguez because CFN is written by howler monkeys.
Fiutak, chief of this short bus, manages to explain this away by redefining the "hotseat" to mean a coach who needs to perform well this year or he'll be on the hotseat next year, which what? Why even use language at this point? My #1 coach on the hotseat this year is Ty Willingham, because when I use "hotseat" what I mean is the coach who was most authoritatively fired last year. Tomorrow I think I'll redefine hotseat to mean "pancake."
But at least Fiutak avoids suggesting Rodriguez is in serious danger of getting axed this year. Not so the rest of these serious observers:
Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez comes to mind as someone, who will undergo intense scrutiny in Ann Arbor if his Wolverines don’t start showing immediate signs of life. …Have Rich Rodriguez and Charlie Weis flip a coin. No one else is even remotely close…. . I would also throw Rich Rodriquez in the mix from Michigan.
In fact, the only person who doesn't mention Rodriguez specifically mentions why he's not mentioning Rodriguez by claiming "Michigan has a high profile head man who is at least brining attention to the program," which somehow manages to refute something stupid but contribute to it simultaneously.
Here's how bad the article is: this Bleacher Report article (BLEACHER REPORT!) that lists Weis, Kragthorpe, O'Leary, Hawkins, and Groh—you know, coaches who are actually in danger of losing their jobs next year—is 100% less retarded than it.
Then Fiutak has to blow his semi-reprieve by making what I propose is the most incorrect statement ever uttered in a college football preview ever:
The real strength will be at safety where some superstar prospects will combine with some established playmakers. That means veteran safety Steve Brown can be part linebacker and part safety in the new system.
Michigan's depth chart at safety reads: decent true freshman prospect, guy who was cornerback midway through spring practice, guy who got beat out by freshman and cornerback, meh true freshman prospect, walk-ons. Safety is, bar none, the most frightening position on the team, with neither returning starters or highly-touted recruits. The weird thing is that the preview is decently well-researched, mentioning moves for Brown and Brandon Smith and the installation of Woolfolk, but the conclusions drawn are preposterous.
It's time to drag up the definitive word on CFN once more. Via BHGP:
CFN is to actual analysis what ramming two GI Joes together is to MMA. It's only the same to 7-year-olds.
Fin. For about a year or two.
Oh, and MGoMichaeltribute:
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, QB Denard Robinson, and K Brendan Gibbons.
|San Diego, California - 6'0" 184
|Scout||4*, #15 QB, #137 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #4 DTQB, #164 overall|
|ESPN||81, #14 QB, #144 overall|
|Others||#56 to Lemming, #133 to TAKKLE|
|Other Suitors||Penn State, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska|
|Quarterback Conundra. A diarist takes in Tate's final high school game. TomVH interviews Tate. Gun show. Mailbag 1. Mailbag 2. Tea leaves. Spring recap.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Younger brother of former M QB Jason Forcier. Personal site.|
Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.
Here's the world's most succinct scouting report($), via a story title from the Nebraska Rivals site:
Forcier Equals Accuracy
Indeed. Forcier's high school numbers were mindboggling, Colt McCoy-style things. His junior year he completed 77%(!!!) of his passes; at times you could have taken a shot every time a Forcier pass hit the ground and driven home in confidence. His completion percentage dipped this year, but there were reasons and compensations:
|So||157 / 221||1637||71.0%||7.4||10.4||17-4|
|Jr||164 / 213||2387||77.0%||11.2||14.6||21-5|
|Sr||208 / 326||3424||63.8%||10.5||16.5||23-15|
Forcier was given a much greater burden in his final year. That naturally drives down your numbers as the playcalling slants towards passing and defenses are being called with that in mind. Despite that, you can see Tate's YPC rise every year as the dinking and dunking receded.
The one glaring issue is Forcier's senior spike in interceptions. That's partially the increased attempts and partially what sounds like a sieve-like offensive line. In Forcier's final high school game he was sacked seven times in a 41-14 loss against Oceanside. An MGoBlog diarist took it in:
Tate throws a great ball. Unfortunately, his offensive line was horrible and never gave him any time to sit in the pocket and throw a deep ball. It would have been nice to see him attempt some down field stuff, but it was not to be. All of his passes looked sharp and accurate though. He also has a really quick release.
Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.
When not fleeing from virtually unblocked defenders, Forcier is creepily accurate. That was his calling card as early as November of 2007. Rivals introduces Tate:
Forcier, 6-1, 185 pounds can flat out spin the rock. We first saw him at the NorCal NIKE Camp two years ago following his freshman season and he was already throwing the ball better than just about anyone at the event. Mechanically, Forcier is nearly flawless and has everything you're looking for in a signal caller.
The quarterback takes a great drop, has a quick release and the ball comes out of his hand so effortlessly. There is no wasted motion in Forcier's delivery and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. He's very accurate and can throw on the run or outside of the pocket equally well.
At the Elite 11 camp, Forcier won the accuracy competition. Soon after Rivals named him the most accurate quarterback in his class. When Friend of Blog Craig Ross caught him at spring practice that's what leapt out:
Forcier’s arm is stronger than I thought it would be. Most of the balls he threw looked pretty crisp. He looked terrific in the drills. Running right or left he puts the ball on the money. I didn’t see him throw a poor ball.
Yes: Forcier equals accuracy. That's his one-word description. Weis equals corpulence. Tressel equals boring. Forcier equals accuracy.
Accuracy arises from good mechanics, which have been drilled into his head since he was tiny. Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith:
"I think he's got some of the best mechanics I've seen from a high school kid in a while," Smith said. "He's humble, and he's just willing to work. The kid's been playing football and winning games ever since he's been little."
You don't have mechanics like that, or two older brothers who got scholarships to Michigan and UCLA, without structural reasons pushing you towards that. Primary reason: Forcier's dad. A secondary one: Forcier's Tebow-esque homeschool setup:
On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.
No big deal.
"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."
Aaaand the 17-and-under readership of this blog just passed out in joyous contemplation of such a thing. The flexibility in Forcier's schedule allowed him to pack in hundreds of extra workouts with Marv Marinovich, the father of one-time quarterback wunderkind Todd. Marinovich's assessment of his charge is strangely poetic:
"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."
A haiku version of this:
Tate springs off his feet
He bounds from side to side, and
So here's word two in our ever-expanding world's briefest Forcier scouting report: scrambly. ESPN's evaluation highlights it frequently:
Forcier lacks ideal height, but he makes a ton of plays with both his arm and feet. He has excellent speed for the position, but he's really a passer who happens to be athletic enough to run a spread or read-option attack with ease. … Has good mobility within the pocket, and pulls the occasional rabbit out of his hat when a play breaks down. Can sidestep the rush and has a very quick release. He isn't afraid to take off on the run. Can create second chances with his feet and pick up a first down. Often breaks containment, and can throw on the run to either side with very good accuracy. He's a timing passer who likes to get the ball out of his hand quickly. … Has ideal skills for his team's offense--excellent pre-snap reads, a quick release and great accuracy. … Shows a tough side and scrappiness when working to make things happen.
Forcier himself reinforces that scouting report:
"That's why coach Rodriguez recruited me," Forcier said after Saturday's scrimmage. "A lot of times, when the play breaks down, that's your job. Make a play."
Indeed, this youtube video is full of "oh my god what are you doing, stop doing that, arrrgh… touchdown?!" moments:
cough cough drew tate cough tate, drew cough.
Forcier's tutelage and longtime starting experience had him net an impressive set of BCS offers before he even showed up at the Army All-American combine as a junior:
The talented Californian barely showed up in time for registration, but had big news with Auburn, Penn State and Oregon sending offers within the last week to join the existing group of Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Arizona.
Ironically, that article contrasts Forcier and Kevin Newsome, pigeonholing the former as a pro-style quarterback and the latter as a dual threat sort.
By the Signing Day a year before Forcier would actually put his name on a piece of paper, he had added to that list with offers from LSU, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Florida would also throw its hat in the ring by June at the latest; Tate's personal site also shows offers—like, you know, the actual letters—from Tennessee, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and many more. This is a lot of offers from impressive sources.
At that combine Forcier had some issues attributed, oddly, to the balls in use:
"I thought I threw the ball decent, I felt like I could have done better. I was getting used to the receivers and they did a pretty good job catching my ball. Overall I thought it went pretty well," Forcier said. "All quarterbacks like to have a certain kind of ball, some like the soft ones, some like the hard ones, and these were pretty hard. So you know we tried to adjust to them the best that we can.
"I have an advantage over some guys though, I've got big hands." [HEYO! –ed]
He did "nothing to hurt his standing" as a top 75 prospect… except apparently he did. So there you go. He dropped out of the top 100, but not far, and committed to Michigan about ten seconds after Kevin Newsome re-opened his recruitment, after attending the Utah game. And who could blame him after that?
Then, of course, came spring:
I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.
In the aftermath this here blog was about as "eeee" over Forcier as it is over Mike Barwis:
Most encouraging development: The general existence of Tate Forcier. Forcier chucked one pass into a linebacker's pads but other than that was worlds better than anything Michigan's seen at quarterback since Lloyd Carr rode out of the Citrus Bowl on the shoulders of his team. Forcier was as advertised: quick and scrambly in the pocket, accurate on the run, worryingly small, &c.
…There was one overthrown screen and the shoulda-been interception, but other than that he was dead on. Unofficial stats had him 11/14 for 130 or so yards. That's worlds different from last year's spring game, in which both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions to legends like Artis Chambers and everyone started panicking in earnest about what fall would bring. Forcier's first excursion as Michigan's quarterback could not have been more reassuring.
So, here we are.
Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.
Look, you can even listen to ESPN, which grabbed the most Tate-like NFL quarterback in recent memory when searching for a comparison:
Has a style similar to that of Jeff Garcia, another riverboat gambler who finds ways to get the job done.
I'm telling you. I tell you. This I have told you.
Guru Reliability: High. Forcier's been on the radar screen a long time with his father and his brothers and whatnot. Also, the final guru ratings above are spectacularly similar, with Lemming's strong endorsement the only one that finds him outside a narrow band centered around #150.
General Excitement Level: High, minus a pip or two. He's not Devin Gardner in terms of upside but those skills in this offense should provide an immediate boost, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't a four-year starter.
Projection: Here's me on a limb: I think Forcier will be the starting quarterback this year. Wow, this limb… it's very wobbly no it's not it's the ground.
Light day today due to Spain-USA. May we die with honor. Braves and Birds previews it for you.
Times and dates. A press release containing every exciting Big Ten matchup against Towson has been C&Ped into the diaries. Michigan games listed:
- Western Michigan at MICHIGAN, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Notre Dame at Michigan, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, Big Ten Network, Noon ET
- MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, ABC, 2:30 p.m. CT
Yes, Western Michigan at Michigan is a 3:30 ABC game. Woo! It's not like there's anything else going on but Jebus. If the rest of the schedule wasn't dire enough to get WMU @ M on ABC I'd put in my usual complaint about a home 3:30 start really impinging on my ability to see games around the country.
Also: was it widely known that the Illinois game would be a 3:30 ABC affair?
We were good except for the eighty yard touchdown we gave up six times. I couldn't dig up a specific instance of this concept in the archives, but I'm pretty sure at various times last year I described the defense as doing pretty well except for the four long touchdowns. Michigan wasn't a team you drove the field on, it was a team you mostly failed against until someone in the secondary or one of the linebackers screwed up and then you ran for a long time and got seven points. Sometimes this happened most of the day (Illinois), sometimes it didn't.
It turns out there are numbers to support this idea:
The most interesting name on this list is Michigan. They were seventh in Success Rates+ but 62nd in PPP+ [Points Per Play]. That suggests that they played pretty efficient defense overall, not giving up consistent gains, but the breakdowns they did suffer were large ones, and they gave up far too many big plays.
There aren't any helpful glossary links that explain exactly what goes into these metrics, unfortunately, so I can't tell you if they attempt to account for the terrible field position Michigan found itself in time and again, but even that can't explain all of this discrepancy.
So: the stats point a finger squarely at last year's safeties, with some bonus points accruing to the sloppy linebacking.
More metrics for good. The Free Press summarizes Steele's metrics on Michigan, all of which point in the right direction. Many of them will be familiar to readers of this blog:
- Teams coming off extremely negative turnover years improve 80% of the time.
- Teams who lose three or more close games than they win improve basically 80% of the time.
- Michigan returns many starters.
- And holy hell the offense has to be way better.
Steele predicts an improved season for the Wolverines, the fourth-most improved season nationally, trailing only Illinois, Ohio and UCLA. He also sees them in the Champs Sports Bowl against Miami (Fla.).
Raise your hand if you'd take that right now. That appears to be everyone.
Another bullet in the head. Man, this coaches poll thing… eh… not so good:
the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams.
And Carson went forth amongst the Hittites, and slew many, and gloried in the destruction, whereupon he was released from the football team to the annoyance of his high school coach. Minor PR fire at Detroit Renaissance arising from an interview with its head coach. First, the facts: Ren's Antonio Watts is being interviewed by "Hondo," who's a Spartan-slanted (and apparently unemployed now) TV guy the RCMB mocks.
First he references Carson Butler—"now with the Green Bay Packers"—as one of the major athletes in Renaissance's past, at which point Hondo asks why everyone loves Dantonio, at which point Watts says, in effect, "Dantonio shows up."
Then there's some garbled ungrammatical stuff from Hondo about the current Ren kids at State; Watts launches into this apropos of nothing—Hondo never mentions Michigan:
"I had two kids who went to the University of Michigan with Lloyd Carr and when Rodriguez took over last year, in my opinion they weren't done well. They weren't treated well. Carson had to leave early… to the NFL, and Andre Criswell, who's still up there, he's a graduate assistant who's not doing anything. And that hurt my heart. And I have a kid at West Virginia who's not very happy there. And I feel that."
Well, then. One: don't expect anyone out of Ren to go to Michigan in the near future. But let's not confuse this coach's slant with reality. Criswell is a great guy but he was the last guy in his recruiting class, a guy Carr offered on signing day because he had an extra scholarship. He came in as a fullback, never played under Carr in three years, and never played under Rodriguez. As mentioned, he's currently a grad assistant. I'm finding it difficult to see how that can be spun as anything negative. I'm even assuming his withdrawal from the program was entirely his decision: Michigan has extra scholarships this year. So what the hell?
And Carson Butler… well. Carson Butler is the most embarrassing program alum in the last decade. He punched a Notre Dame player last year. The year before that he participated in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, was kicked off the team by Carr, and only let back on after he managed to evade legal consequences. At the time it seemed clear that Carr would have rather washed his hands of him then and there but couldn't justify it since he was acquitted. On the field the guy was a false-start prone headcase whose interest in blocking was nil.
And the stories that have hit my inbox about him have been either hilarious or disturbing, or both. There's a typical Carson Butler story in that thread linked above; I've heard three or four others of similar vintage. Unless this is an amazing hoax, the guy is a sociopath who got far more consideration than he deserved from Michigan.
So over it. A couple of weeks ago, Rich Rodriguez called up a couple of guys in West Virginia in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Here's how that went:
My wife is not a sports fan.
Recently, though, she read the front page article by the Daily Mail's Jake Stump about Rich Rodriguez, the one where the former West Virginia University coach said how much he loved West Virginia and hoped the tension between him and hard-core Mountaineer football fans was fading.
Her observation after reading the article was, "Who is this man? What a pitiful, whiny, self-serving creature."
You, sir, have a very dramatic wife. Who likes adjectives.
Teeny tinies are the trend. Some of the roiling sea of consternation about Michigan's future is about the tiny wide receivers and their unsuitability for the NFL and that sort of thing. Maybe this helps?
Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound Eddie Royal of Denver, who embarrassed then-Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the season opener on Monday Night Football to the tune of nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. That was just the opening salvo in a season that saw Royal finish with 91 catches for 980 yards in 15 games.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson is another example of a small receiver having a big impact as a rookie. At 5-10, 175, he finished with 62 catches for 912 yards, but only two touchdowns. Even the surprise first receiver taken in 2008, 5-11, 184-pound Donnie Avery of St. Louis, had a stellar debut. He had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns, not too shabby for a 'rook.'
Meanwhile, all the big guys from that draft haven't done anything. Now, none of these guys are 5'2" or whatever Jeremy Gallon is, but they are in the range that of a Je'Ron Stokes. And if you're one of these guys you're probably going to go to the school that can best deploy your tiny windmilling legs, right?