LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
One of the most lamentable aspects of being a college football fan as far as I'm concerned has long been the lack of quality stat keeping, as well as analysis. Matt Hinton (currently Dr. Saturday) and Chris at Smart Football are great, and if CFB Stats didn't exist, this post wouldn't exist, but it ain't no Fangraphs and those fellas ain't quite Tom Tango, who literally wrote The Book on baseball. Not that it's a fair comparison.
I bring Tango up because his stat wOBA inspired this post. wOBA (weighted On Base Average) is basically on base percentage gone plaid. Instead of dividing times on base (1B+2B+3B+HR+BB+HBP+ROE) by plate appearances, you decide how valuable in terms of runs each of those individual events are and then proceed (hence weighted). OBP is transformed into runs per plate appearance. Multiply times total PAs and you have the runs that batter was responsible for in that season. And scoring (or preventing) runs are the bottom line in baseball. In sum: bases get you runs get you wins. In football, it looks like this:
Yards - Turnovers = Points
This isn't exactly groundbreaking. It's a fundamental assumption behind Dr. Saturday's Life on the Margins, iirc, and I'm pretty sure this is what I'm going to find in Pete Palmer's Hidden Game of Football if and when it eventually ships to a2. And it's sorta-kinda what David Romer did, though not nearly exhaustive. The theory is good. The actual arithmetic is kind of annoying and is summarized in the following paragraph. Feel free to skip to the part where we find out just how crippling the impact of Nick Sheridan was and how much worse it could have been.
The key to being able to do this yourself is to figure out yards and turnovers in terms of points. I ripped the drive logs of every Big Ten conference game in 2008 from Yahoo. That'll give you yards/point, which came out to about 15. Then I plotted, in buckets of 10 yards, the percent of drives that resulted in a TD or FG based on the drive starting field position, except the last 30 yards which I averaged at the opponent's 15 due to relatively few samples.* This gives you average expected points based on field position. That plus average field position equals the average value of a possession, which is what you lose in a turnover. Not only that, but you give expected points to your opposition. According to my math, an INT was worth about -4 points. Thus points per throw is (Yds/15 + INTs*4)/attempts.
Feel free to comment
I Am Not An Expert. If my math is off, then suggest different constants/methods. They pass the sniff test to me; I ran assorted regressions on excel to test assumptions and it looked right. I'd be glad to share the drive chart database. Onward...
The Part Where We Find Out Just How Crippling The Impact Of Nick Sheridan Was
It's sorted by pts/attempt, the relevant measure. Average was .33. Mr. Sheridan was dead last with those over 50 attempts with .15 points per attempt. An all around average team wins 4 games. The results indicate that an all around average team that replaced its average quarterback with Nick Sheridan would win 2 (converting to wins over average is easy enough). But it would also have tremendous team chemistry and at least one valedictorian. Wins aren't everything.
Also, check out Terrelle Pryor's numbers. Remember, this is just per throw. Rushing and sack yards are not included, nor is it defense adjusted. Having rewatched the Texas and Michigan games in HD (being able to see the d-backs helps), I was impressed. Tressel used the threat of Wells inside and Pryor's skills when bootlegged on the edge to great effect. The playbook seemed cut down, but his athleticism made it work. The sack numbers (scroll right in the g-doc) and somewhat inconsistent mechanics are the most glaring issues, but they were exaggerated by a bad pass blocking unit in front of him. In conclusion: barring injury, Pryor is going to be a terror. Surprise! Rivals #1 overall prospect in 2008 is projected to dominate. At least he'll probably be gone after his junior year.
*It's a shortcut and it probably understates how valuable possessions that start inside the 15 are. I actually think inside the 15 the function is probably no longer linear. I'm also sorry that this is isn't the most thorough or transparent presentation. It's a start though.
Dear fellow Michigan fans,
As we previously reported to you, Brian Cook, proprietor of MGoBlog, is on vacation. What we neglected to tell you, however, is that the WLA rudely interrupted his vacation by kidnapping him and detaining him in an undisclosed location. As Proof of Life, here is a painting (srsly?) of our abduction of Brian:
There are worse ways to die
Yes, Michigan fans, your precious Brian Cook is under our control now. We hold him hostage, and we have only one demand:
Brian puts a lot of work into this site, and he deserves to be rewarded. We demand that you throw some coin at him. If you do not meet this one completely reasonable request, then the WLA will be forced to take over editorial control of MGoBlog ... permanently. This would mean no more Brian, and lots more Dex.
Artist Rendering of MGoBlog Community in aftermath of WLA takeover
We know the prospect of a WLA-controlled MGoBlog.com scares you, and quite frankly it terrifies us as well, so change your soiled undergarments and do what is right.
CONTRIBUTE OR DIE!
Dear MGoBlog readers,
As frequenters of this blog, the WLA has noticed that a masochistic few of you still yearn for a UFR of the game against OSU. As a movement of the proletariat, the WLA is committed to delivering on the whims of all our Wolverine brethren. As such, we have taken it upon ourselves to present to you the official MGoBlog UFR of the Ohio State game. That is, the real Ohio State game, not the one presented to you by the Capitalist Media.
The stage is set against the magnum gray of November in the Midwest. Two coaches stand stoically opposite of each other, their jaws clenched, their purposes polar but omnipresent . Jim Tressel's Transition Lenses (tm) hide his resolve, but only slightly. Rich Rodriguez ponders the semiotic meaning of the Elephant Graveyard in Disney's epic motion picture, "The Lion King."
0-0, 14:54 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Terrelle Pryor runs over the right tackle for 3 yards. Jonas Mouton (+1) does an excellent job of filling the hole between the right guard and center to thwart this planned scramble. Pryor bounces outside, where Stevie Brown (+1) cleans him up.
*2nd and 7* - Beanie Wells rushes up the middle, but Will Johnson (+1) and Terrence Taylor (+1) have caused a pile of bodies. Wells runs into it for no gain.
*3rd and 7* - Pryor gets ample time (Pass Rush -1), and finds Sanzenbacher downfield for a gain of 14. Warren (-1) is in loose coverage, and Scott Shafer (-17) rushes three because he's a capitalist stooge too content to rest on the laurels of the past two plays rather than risk anything for the further glory of the people.
*1st and 10* - Pryor is rushed (+1 Brandon Graham), and rolling out throws an interception to Stevie Brown (+2), who, because he is Stevie Brown, will receive a -37 (-37).
0-0, 12:24 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Michigan hands to Carlos Brown. Brown breaks some ankles (-1, because they were his own) and falls forward for two yards.
*2nd and 8* - Nick Sheridan, who by all accounts is a nice guy, nevertheless is Nick Sheridan, who does Nick Sheridany things (-1).Cool fact: did you know that Nick Sheridan's father is a real life NFL coach?!
*3rd and 10* - Michigan becomes frightened of the looming goal line, decides as a team to false start and give Sheridan some room to work. Obviously, the team was afraid that his cannon arm will not be able to operate so close to the goal line without killing an innocent end zone fan.
*3rd and 15* - Sheridan's noodle arm flashes like a glint of silver in the dead of night. The pass falls incomplete (-1) to Odoms...I mean, come on, what did you expect? Have you watched a game?
*4th and 15* - KC Lopata lines up for the FG ... I'm sorry I blacked out. He made it, right? Right? What? Hmm.
0-0, 11:05 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Pryor hands to Beanie Wells, who looks great in his uniform (+1 and I don't care what team he plays for - rawr), is tackled by Tim Jamison for a loss of one.
*2nd and 11* - Michigan calls timeout, as Carson Butler has challenged Rich Rodriguez to a pistol duel on the sideline (-1 Butler). Butler fighting...DRINK!
*2nd and 11* - Pryor throws SGSL (-1 mgoblue.com for weird acronyms).
*3rd and 11* - Pryor incomplete to Sanzenbacher - no doubt because he couldn't decide what receiver to throw at, especially if he can't pick a college amirite?
*4th and 11* - Buckeyes punt. Martavious Odoms remembers that he forgot to put his Nintendo DS on the charger and starts to run towards the sideline. Unfortunately the ball strikes him in the helmet, and OSU recovers.
0-0 10:06 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Michigan lines up in a ... crap. Unintelligible formation devolves into Chinese fire drill which devolves into "whose got the salami?!" Somewhere, AJ Hawk is smiling, thinking about all the times he's played grab ass at the bottom of the pile. That's right. We fumbled.
*1st and 10* - Brandon Harrison distracts Terrelle Pryor by telling him that Vettes Suck (+1), takes the opportunity to tackle him for a short gain.
*2nd and 8* - Pryor incomplete to Hartline, who immediately declares for the NFL Draft after the best incompletion EVER.
*3rd and 8* - Brandon Graham (+10) blows through the OSU line and hits Pryor with the dreaded spear-jackhammer combination for the 1-2-3, winning the WCW TV Title, and registering a 6 yard sack.
*4th and 14* - OSU Punts, Greg Mathews fields with a butterfly net, honey, and a vice. 7 yard return.
0-0, 8:39 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Cynthia and Paul are a young couple living in the suburban Omaha area. With two kids and a third on the way, they're looking for some extra room and a place closer to Paul's work. So which house will they choose? The first house is in the middle of their price range, at $259,000, and has an in-ground swimming pool. But at 2700 square feet, it's the smallest of the three.
*2nd and 7* - The second house is a colonial in the Pine Grove section of town with a bonus room off of the Master Bedroom. At 3200 square feet, it's the largest of the houses, but also the most expensive.
*3rd and 6 *- The third house is the cheapest, at $236,000, and in need of updates, but this Victorian-style house has a huge backyard. So which house will Cynthia and Paul choose?
*4th and 6* - Zoltan The Inconceivable is bored with this "football" competition, and decides to shank a punt to spite us all. Hartline fair catches after a 27 yard punt. Inconceivable!
0-0 7:24 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Pryor hands off to Wells, who gains 1 yard after being stopped by Martin and Thompson. Jim Tressel (-1) apparently enjoys playcalls that would make Mike DeBord (-500) proud.
*2nd and 9* - Pryor hands off to Wells for a gain of 4. WOO MICHIGAN IS STILL IN THE GAME!
*3rd and 5* - Brandon Harrison blitzes and sacks Terrelle Pryor. Columbus police double check their stores of tear gas.
*4th and 14* - OSU punts out-of-bounds, eliminating any chance at a fumble. Yay.
0-0 5:23 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Brandon Minor loses 3 on a "SGL" rush. OMG LOL WTF IMO FWIW FYI ASAP PDQ.
*2nd and 13* - Nick Sheridan (-1) throws incomplete to Martavious Odoms. The stalking of QB recruits continues unabated.
*3rd and 13* - Sack. In a sports bar somewhere in America, a Michigan fan witnessed this possession and suddenly smashed his beer bottle over the head of the Ohio State fan sitting next to him. Somebody's going to the emergency room, somebody's going to jail- it is in this way that Rich Rodriguez is NOT upholding the tremendous family values that used to exist under Lloyd.
*4th and 23* - Zoltan is now inexplicably pleased with this game. 50 yard punt, returned 8 yards to the OSU 41. Somewhere, the zombie corpse of Woody Hayes is raiding a nursery.
0-0 4:06 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - Leonardo Da Vinci wrote
"The Unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it."
Jim Tressell, evil mastermind that he is, instructs OSU-controlled Centaurs to unveil the lone virgin remaining in Columbus on the sideline. Obi Ezeh's Unicorn (-2) instantly leaves the field of play for the sideline, with an irate Ezeh and Brandon Harrison in pursuit. Beanie Wells exploits the opening in the UM defense rushing 59 yards for the touchdown. PAT good.
0-7 3:57 left in First Quarter
*1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and 10* Rock, Rock, WR screen clanged by Sheridan, Punt. That's novel.
0-7 2:24 left in First Quarter
*1st and 10* - After seeing Nick Sheridan's attempt at super serious Quarterbacking (-2), Tressell decides he can sit on a seven point lead. Chris Wells up the middle for 4, tackled by TT.
*2nd and 6* - Moving the DT's out of the way (TT, Johnson -1), Wells plows ahead for 5.
*3rd and 1* - Mouton (+1) meets Wells in the backfield, but is carried for 2 yards, before Tim Jamison can help.
*1st and 10* - With a full cadre of RB's, and a 2:1 advantage in TOP, OSU runs Herron up the middle for 3.
*2nd and 7* - Cheating, OSU.
*2nd and 12* - Brandon Harrison, blinded by the shine from Terrelle Pryor's white tuxedo (+1) is left rubbing his eyes in pain. Pryor scoots outside for 8 yards, setting up the inevitable...
*3rd and 4* - It's 3rd down and 4. How far off the line did you THINK the DB's would be? If your answer was "1 Hectare", you're correct. 10 yards to Jake Ballard. At least Pryor had to wake up for this play, right?
*1st and 10* - Alex Boone, busy hiding under a patio, allows Jamison (+1) into the backfield, where he tackles Wells for a two-yard loss.
*2nd and 12* - This plays follows two strictures of the 2008 Michigan Wolverine Defense:
1. When the opposing team has more than ten yards to go, we allow a large play.
2. When something goes poorly, UFR blames Stevie Brown (-73.2).
53-yard pass to Hartline, Touchdown. Alcohol intake increases sharply, causing a major hangover later in the day. This, too, is Stevie Brown's fault. I’m sending him the bill for my soiled undershorts. (-23).
0-14 13:06 left in 2nd Quarter
*1st and 10* - Remember Little Giants? Remember the first game they played before they let the manly girl and the California pretty boy with the dreamy blonde hair on the team? Like, when the 3'4" little Asian kid was their best player? This drive is something like that. RUNRUNINCOMPLETEPUNT. Zoltan Mesko, wearied by the incompetence of the mortals, even shanks the punt (again!?). Mesko promptly calls a press conference where he offers his thoughts on the economic downturn. Michigan Men (tm) everywhere say to themselves "isn't that cute?"
0-14 12:07 left in 2nd Quarter
*1st and 10* - Drunkeness escalating. Maize and Blue blurs get pushed backwards as a red blur dashed forward for 7.
*2nd and 3* - Michigan, wisely avoiding their 3rd Down Achilles heel, allows Wells the first down here. Gain of 6.
*1st and 10* - Ohio State's TOP advantage rears it's ugly head, as Wells is too tired of kicking our ass to play. Herron rushes for two. I'm going to assume that since Brown was in on the play, he should have had Herron in the backfield (-2).
*2nd and 8* - Herron bursts through and trips over Mike Martin's limp body (+1) 5 yards down field.
*3rd and 3* - OSU, eschewing the pillow-soft coverage outside pounds Backup Beanie into the line for no gain. Charles Stewart (+1) is clearly lost here, as he ended up in the right place to fill the hole.
*4th and 3* - Pryor, whose inattention can be attributed to fantasizing about white Corvettes and prom dates, misses a wide open Hartline for the first down.
0-14 8:43 left in 2nd Quarter
*1st and 10* - The legend of The Tate grows, as Sheridan clangs a pass to Odoms.
*2nd and 10* - Ditto.
*3rd and 10* - Ditt - wait. What? Com...plete? To Odoms, obvs. 10 yards. 1st 1st down of the game!
*1st and 10* - Carlos Brown slips and stumbles forward for 3 yards.
*2nd and 7* - Sheridan, in awe of his brilliance two plays ago, stands placidly in the pocket as the OSU pass rush envelopes him.
*3rd and 15* - Jogged out of his funk by the brutal tackling, Sheridan completes a pass (!) over the middle to Savoy. Say what you want about Sheridan's ability, but he's the son of a coach and grittier than all the sandpaper in the world.
*4th and 1* - ISQD by Sheridan - first down. Look out Pat White.
*1st and 10* - MINOR RAAAAAAAAAAAGE. 11 yards.
*1st and 10* - Minor's Unicorn, emboldened by Minor's success gores (+1) the Centaur hovering immediately on the other side of the LOS. Hopping on the Unicorn's back, Sparkledust (+2) temporarily sprouts a pair of wings and soars over the OSU defense for 32 yards, where the OSU anti-Unicorn net ensnares Minor's faithful steed.
*1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th down* - Minor displays an interpretive dance of "Opposites Attract" By Paula Abdul, taking two steps back for every 2 steps forward (+2 MC Scat Cat). Losing 1 yard, then 5 yards, then gaining 6, then gaining 1. TOUCHDOWN! MOMENTUM TURNING, AMIRITE?
7-14 2:44 left in 2nd Quarter
* 1st and 10 * - In an effort to shed his reputation as the second coming of DeBord, Tressel decides to run off tackle instead of straight ahead. The devious little minx. Wells runs right, Thompson (-1) fails to shed his block and can't wrap up Wells as they collide in the hole. Wells slows and losses balance, eventually falling for a gain of 6.
* 2nd and 4 * - Shifting to the hurry-up, Pryor breaks the huddle and snaps the ball with 6 seconds left on the play clock (saving a whole 6 seconds!!). Wells runs left, Martin (+1) gets some push on the double team, slowing Wells to the hole, but Ezeh and Mouton slow to get to Wells, tackling him after a gain of 6 yards. Ah yes, the old "give him a moment to collect himself before tackling" style of defense.
* 1st and 10 * - You would think that with under 1:40 left in the half, there would be some urgency... but Herron runs right, tackled after a gain of 8 yards by Mouton. Jim Tressel's offensive coordinator picks his nose.
* 2nd and 2 * - Wells up the middle piles into a mass of humanity with Taylor (+1) at it core and falls forward for 3. Jim Tressel's offensive coordinator scratches his groinal region.
* 1st and 10 * - This has been too much excitement for Tressel, lets take a knee twice and call it a half, shall we?
OSU Marching Band, guy dots the "i" (+3 Michigan Marching Band for teaching them the formation, -17 Sousaphone Player for whom this will represent the greatest moment of his life) (-200 to the WLA for knowing what a "sousaphone" is and using it in a sentence).
7-14 14:55 left in 3rd Quarter
M20 *1st and 10* - Nick Sheridan slides to the left and keeps on a zone read. 8 yards followed by two hops this time (Sheridan +1).
M28 *2nd and 2* - Brandon Minor takes the handoff and after sliding to the right, decides to REVERSE (reverse) REVERSE (reverse) his direction. 3 yards and left foot one stomp. Left foot again (Sheridan +1, Maid of Honor +2).
M31 *1st and 10* - Minor receives the handoff again after he and Shaw crisscross. Minor turns it out for an 6 yard pick up (Minor +2, Drunken Uncle -3).
M37 *2nd and 4* - It's Minor once again as he dives low for a 1 yard gain. How low can he go? Can he get down low? All the way to da floor? (Minor +2, Overweight Bridesmaid -257).
M38 *3rd and 3* - Sheridan swings a bubble screen to Odoms in the flat. Odoms cha chas real smooth, but there's poor blocking and he can't escape a 2 yard loss (Stonum -1, Open Bar +17).
M36 *4th and 5* - Mesko (+1,000,000) booms a 59 yard punt. Everybody clap your hands. CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP (Rhythm -12).
7-14 12:15 left in 3rd Quarter
O5 *1st and 10* - B. Wells takes handoff and heads left. Alex Boone gets a nice push, like a drunk pushing towards the stage at a concert and moves Taylor (-1) back. Wells brought down after a 7 yard gain. On the sidelines' Butler is fighting - unsuccessfully - the urge to get all wiley up in this bitch. As drinks continue flowing, we realize that suddenly we began keeping track of what yard line this is all happening on. Interesting.
O12 *2nd and 3* - Herron takes the handoff straight ahead and has a nice hole, but John Thompson (+1) brings the lumber and "BOOM!" He may not be able to tackle in the open field but he can hit what's in front of him. Short gain of 2.
O14 *3rd and 1* - Terrell Pryor isn't Troy Smith, but the LBs bought his play fake just the same. TE Jake Ballard releases and slides behind Mouton (-1) and the other LBs (-1) and Pryor shot puts an easy pass to him. Ballard rumbles up the seem before being brought down by Stevie Brown (-73.5, just because). Gain of 44.
M42 *1st and 10* - Pryor zone read right keeps and stiff arms DE Ryan Van Bergen (-1) because he is twice his size and turns the corner and gains 6 before Charles Stewart takes Pryor's legs out.
M36 *2nd and 4* - Wells takes the handoff, but Taylor (+1) stands up the double team of Cordle and Person and Wells falls forward for a gain of 1.
M35 *3rd and 3* - Trent and Warren back off the wide outs and Pryor throws a flare to Robiskie in front of Trent (-1) and gains 5 yards. In memory of Bo, 1 million Michigan fans throw their hats onto the ground in complete disgust.
M30 *1st and 10* - Shafer dials up a run blitz with Ezeh and Thompson coming, Ezeh (-1) is left unblocked and brings Beanie down for a loss of 3.
M33 *2nd and 13* - Figuring that was enough excitement for one series, the DBs drop 10 yards off the WR and Pryor fires to Hartline in the flat for a gain of 8. (Coverage -1)
M25 *3rd and 5* - Wondering when he is finally going to get play TE again, Carson Butler jumps offsides and gives OSU a first down. Dex dies a little bit inside.
M20 *1st and 10* - Wells takes the delayed handoff from Pryor and sprints for the corner, but is caught from behind by B. Graham (+1) for a loss of 1. Maybe he can become Michigan's version of LaMarr Woodley in 2008 (ht: Genius Insider Philosophers of the E-Blogosphere)
M21 *2nd and 11* - M. Wells (Not That Wells) takes the pitch right and the right side of the OSU line pushes Jamison and Taylor back allowing for a gain of 8 prior to Mouton making the tackle.
M13 *3rd and 3* - LT Alex Boone starts to get the shakes as he's gone more than 60 minutes without a drink. DE Carson Butler blows by the shaking LT and tackles Pryor for a sack and loss of 5. Unfortunately, in his jubilation, Butler swings at Pryor after the play and takes an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty (DRINK!) half the distance to the goal and an automatic first down. Rich Rodriguez dies a little on the inside and Butler is benched.
M9 *1st and 9* - B. Wells (Yes That Wells) runs behind the right side of the OSU line who gets a push on Martin (-1) and Jamison (-1) and gains 4 before being tackled by Mouton. While sitting in his basement attired in old gym shorts and ratty t-shirt, Mike DeBord (-10,000) mutters, "I'd throw rock again, rock always wins."
M5 *2nd and 5* - Wells (YTW) plays the role of ROCK!! again and picks up 3 yards behind the right side of his line before Ezeh and Mouton bring him down. DeBord (-Infinity) slowly nods his head.
M2 *3rd and 2* - Entire M defense distracted by Brian Cook's hair (+ 1 Million) in the stands. The hair... THE HAIR OF JESUS! Pryor uses his 6'6" frame to jump, ala Lebron James, over the entire distracted defensive line and slam dunk over the goal post. Hey, maybe he'll play basketball for us?
Note: OSU went 5-5 on third downs that drive. Calls to suicide prevention hot lines in the state of Michigan spike.
7-21 4:05 left in 3rd Quarter
M24 *1st and 10* - Michigan takes a delay of game penalty because the offense had been off of the field so long that Sheridan forgot where he left his helmt. (Sheridan -1, Sheridan + 1 for being "gritty").
M19 *1st and 15* - Zone read left, Sheridan gives to McG who runs off a nice seal block by C Molk (+1) but gets run over by Laurinaitis. Think Wylie E. Coyote. Gain of 2. McG's flattened body rolled up and carried off of the field like a yoga mat.
M21 *2nd and 13* - Odoms lined up in the left slot. Sheridan drops back and throws a slant towards Odoms. The ball wobbles like its been batted by the OSU DL. Replay indicates that it wasn't.
M21 *3rd and 13* - Deciding to utilize his scrapiness, Sheridan (-3) conjures up memories of Jeff Garcia wearing Lions Honolulu Blue. He drops back, slides left, scrambles right, and after buying himself some breathing room, "unloads" a routine flyball towards Matthews in triple coverage. INT by OSU FS Russell who is tackled immediately. Rodriguez blows up on the sideline and throws Sheridan's helmet in the trash.
7-21 2:46 left in 3rd Quarter
M43 *1st and 10* - Wells takes the pitch right from Pryor and sprints for the corner, Jamison (+1) string the play out, allowing for Harrison to flow up and make the tackle for a gain of 2. Pryor trots off of the field and stands next to Tressel, but he averts his eyes from Musburger kneeling in front of Tressel.
M41 *2nd and 8* - In a continuation of the behavior that got Michigan in this situation in the first place, Rodriguez instructed his defense to only focus on Terrell Pryor as QB, and that no other QB shall matter. Once Boeckman entered the game, the defense continued to focus on Pryor standing on the sideline. Hartline slips behind the stationary defense on a post route making for and easy touchdown reception. A fight breaks out on the MGo liveblog. Somewhere, a kitten dies a painful death.
7-28 2:07 left in 3rd Quarter
M27 *1st and 10* - Michigan lines up in the I formation. Brian Griese waggles right and finds TE Mark Campbell on a short out pattern that he turns up field for a gain of 7.
M34 *2nd and 3* - Tshimanga Biakabutuka takes the handoff and runs behind the left side of the line where LT Jon Runyan (+1) and LG Damon Denson (+1) have collapsed the DL. Biakabutuka (+2) sheds the first tackler and maintains his balance long enough to get to the 50. Gain of 16.
50 *1st and 10* - LT Runyan (+1) and RT Jon Jansen (+1) kick the DEs outside and the interior linemen, LG Damon Denson, C Rod Payne, and RG Joe Marinaro push back the DTs at least 3 yards each, leaving gaping holes all over the field. Biakabutuka splits the DTs an takes it upfield. After 10 yards, Touchdown Tim sheds not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 would-be tacklers. Now in the open field, he runs to the 6 before being taken down by two OSU defenders. Gain of 44.
O6 *1st and 6* Clarence Williams pounds between the tackles for a gain of 2. Tough running son-of-a-gun Williams was.
O4 *2nd and 4* - Griese play action to Biakabutuka causes the entire OSU defense to freeze as they defecate themselves. Griese waggles right, evades a flailing arm tackle and hits Clarence Williams who slipped out of the back field and into the flat. TD.
14-28 0:09 left in 3rd Quarter
O28 *1st and 10* - Terrelle Pryor on ISQD back up the middle which was vacated by the DEs stunting outside. Mouton and Williams combine for the tackle after a gain of 7 yards.
O35 *2nd and 3* - Wells (YTW) rushes for no gain when Taylor (+1) and Martin (+1) create a human dog pile at the LOS.
O35 *3rd and 3* - Terrell Pryor out of the shotgun floats a wobbly pass towards Hartline running a slant to the right. Pass broken up by Mouton (+1).
O35 *4th and 3* - Tressel dips back into Buckeye history and lines Jerry Rudzinski as the up back in the punt formation. He takes the direct snap and catches the punt coverage team failing to maintain their responsibilities and rushes straight ahead for 20 yards. (Punt coverage -11, one for everyone!!).
M45 *1st and 10* - Wells (YTW) rushes behind the left side of his line with Martin unable to stand up to the double team and Wells bulls ahead for 5 yards, tackled by Thompson and Ezeh.
M40 *2nd and 5* - Terrelle Pryor on the QB bootleg gets strung out towards the sideline by B. Graham but is able to turn the corner and head upfield. Stevie Brown comes up to deliver the hit along the sideline, but Pryor steps out 1 yard short of the first down marker. Tressel is fuming (you can tell by the cute little pout in his lips). Pryor gets yanked and Stanley Jackson comes off of the bench.
M36 *3rd and 1* - Stanley Jackson pass complete to Robiskie down the left sideline as Trent (-1) and Brown (-1) blow the coverage, leaving the WR wide open for a gain of 27 yards. Brown recovers to make the tackle.
M9 *1st and 9* - Wells (YTW) off right tackle where Jamison (+1) sheds his block and drags Wells down for a gain of 2 yards.
M7 *2nd and 7* - Trent out and #2 in at CB. Stanley Jackson from under center sees his inside receiver run a slant with a lazy cut and floats the pass. The route is undercut by Woodson (+1 Heisman) and intercepted in the end zone.
14-28 11:12 left in 4th Quarter
M20 *1st and 10* - Sensing the opportunity to be a hero and end the losing steak against OSU, Sheridan digs his helmet out of the trash and calls the Ann Arbor Police to report a broken window at Scorekeepers. Brian Griese is immediately arrested. Sheridan zone read right hands off to Minor who is immediately taken down by Laurinitis as there is no concern about Sheridan making yards with his legs. Gain of 1.
M21 *2nd and 9* - Sheridan rolls out right to find no receivers to the right hand side of the field as all of the young receivers have run the wrong route. Sheridan tucks the ball and makes it back to the LOS where he is brought down by LB Freeman.
M21 *3rd and 9* - Realizing the only pass that might be completed is a flare to a slot receiver, RR dials up a quick pass to Odoms who eludes the first would-be tackler and turns up field. Unfortunately, electrons have no mass and as he tries to put his shoulder down and plow through CB Malcolm Jenkins for the last yard, he is stopped immediately in his tracks. Gain of 8.
M29 *4th and 1* - Zoltan Mesko (aka "Queen of Space in Space") rolls left and uncorks a line drive rugby punt that only flies 10 yards, but rolls 43 more where it is downed for no return. Somewhere, Lloyd Carr turns to his wife and says, "that was some tremendous velocity."
14-28 8:15 left in 4th Quarter
O26 *1st and 10* Joe Germaine under center. Justin Boren jumps offsides. He stares into the stands, only to find his father, arms crossed and angry, his eyes burning through Justin like lasers. Young Boren knows the drill: later, he will plow snow until his hands ache and arms sag. He will protest ("But DADDDDDDDY....") but family values is all about character building and Justin Boren's character is, well, unbuilt.
O21 *1st and 15* Pryor is assessed a personal foul penalty for trying to roll out in his white corvette. He turns to the referee and tries to explain "I was just pearlin' my miracle whip," but his lamentation falls upon deaf ears.
O10 *1st and 26* Tressel calls a dive left, thinking smugly to himself "I'm such a pretty man." Wells picks up 3 yards.
O13 *2nd and 23* Pryor's pass to Hartline falls short. The timeless adage relating football passes to injured/dying ducks is employed.
O13 *3rd and 23* A brief dagger of sunlight shoots through the clouds and Tressel's Transition Lenses (tm) fail to transition quickly. Blinded, he inadvertently sends out the field goal team. Justin Boren rises above the chaos and calls a timeout. Tressel meets him on the sideline and whispers in his ear: "atta boy Justin. Your father has taught you well. Mike Boren is one hell of a man and a great competitor and an even better landscaper. His vision is unparalleled. He is a visionary. And you, son, are beautiful. I will love you forever. You have glorious breasts"
O13 *3rd and 23* Dive right is stuffed like a Pizone (tm) or Justin Boren after a late night snack on the Gittleson diet.
O13 *4th and 23* Buckeyes punt. Desmond Howard returns the punt for a TD (HELLO HEISMAN, bitches! Keith Jackson comes dangerously close to having a heart attack, but he doesn't because his doctor recently prescribed 20 minutes a day on the elliptical machine and Keith Jackson truly and honestly respects his doctor's opinion).
21-28 5:37 left in 4th Quarter
O20 *1st and 10* Stanley Jackson replaces Joe Germaine (aka the "Freckled Wonder") and promptly throws a 29 yard completion (out route) to David Boston.
O49 *1st and 10* Stanley Jackson again looks for Boston on the out route, but feels pressure, and the pocket collapses. Pass is intercepted by Andre Weathers due to Boston being under the influence of the date rape drug. Michigan returns interception for 6 points. Michigan PAT blocked and recovered by an-D kTzN-MorER. kTzN-MorER fails to return the blocked kick as he forgets how to run AND hold the football at the same time. Stanley Jackson immediately calls it a career, dons a Scarlett-colored velour suit and begins offering the least articulate post-game analysis (like, worse than Shannon Sharpe) in the history of the free world on WBNS-10TV. Somewhere, Lloyd Carr turns to his wife and says "that was tremendous." Elsewhere, OSU fans think to themselves: Quarterback that should lose his job: Stanley Jackson. Quarterback that should keep his job: Joe Germaine. Still elsewhere, OSU fans try to think to themselves and arrive at the conclusion that they just can't muster a thought. Thinking is hard.
27-28 4:54 left in 4th Quarter
O20 *1st and 10* James Laurinaitis's father is administered an IQ test whereupon he scores a 27. Doctors everywhere wonder how a man so retarded can actually and functionally breathe. On the field, Tressell calls old faithful, dive right. Wells is stopped for a one yard gain by Graham (+1).
O21 *2nd and 9* The fierce winds knot Brian Cook's hair into what ostensibly appears to be a Sherpa blanket. Cook is visibly upset and throws a cup at an old man. On the field, Tressel calls old faithful, dive right. Wells is stopped for a one yard gain by Graham (+1).
O22 *3rd and 8* Craig Krenzel is studying to be be Astrophysicist who performs neurosurgery on kittens. Somewhere, Lloyd Carr remarks to his wife that Krenzel is a "tremendous young man." Krenzel completes a 77 yard pass to Joey Galloway, who takes his helmet off in celebration. Carson Butler's nerd-hate boils over and he clubs Craig Krenzel with a folding chair, serving as a preview to his career as a professional wrestler.
M1 *1st and 10* Tressel calls timeout and nods to the booth. Kirk Herbstreit, already wearing his uniform, grabs a helmet without a facemask (because he wants the ladies at home to be able to see the face). Wells (YTW) dive right. No gain.
M1 *2nd and 10* Tressel calls dive right. No gain.
M1 *3rd and 10* Tressel calls dive right. No gain.
M1 *4th and 10* Deciding that he wants to be the star, Herbstreit audibles out of dive right and calls his own number on option right. The right side of line gets blown up due to M harnessing the power of Baby Jesus and all the 9V batteries in the world. No gain, M ball. Victory rumbles faintly in the reaching distance. Somewhere, the zombie corpse of Woody Hayes is pilfering a cemetery.
27-28 1:30 left in 4th Quarter
M1 *1st and 10* Finding a quaterback from the last era of dual threat quarterbacks, Rodriguez taps Demetrius Brown. Brown drops straight back and hits Kolesar on a deep out that he takes to the 24 before being tackled by SS Bo Pelini. Gain of 23.
M24 *1st and 10* Brown drops back and play actions to Hoard. McMurtry, split left, runs a post and finds a hole in the zone for a gain of 21.
M45 *1st and 10* Tressel starts feeling his tie getting tighter around his next, an his thoughts turn to his predecessor, John Cooper. "Don't go there. think about your happy place. Kittens and puppies make such fine snacks..." Brown play actions to Tony Boles, who releases to the left setting up the screen. Boles sprints down the left sideline for a gain of 19.
O36 *1st and 10* Catching the OSU defense off guard, Brown hands to Hoard on the sprint draw and the RB gashes through the middle of the OSU defense before being brought down at the 20. Gain of 16. Michigan calls timeout
O20 *1st and 10* J.D. Carlson trots onto the field (8:13 minutes into the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqptBz6eEBo). Steve Everitt snaps and Carlson splits the uprights as time expires.
30-28 END OF GAME: Queue up the Muppets!!
In the glorious aftermath of a timeless victory, chaos ensues. Confetti falls from above, showering the endless green of the playing field with a phosperently shimmering hue not unlike that of an eight year old's birthday party. Somewhere, God smiles and pats his belly and the angels blow upon their horns like Coltrane in his youth. Coach Rodriguez mounts his unicorn and takes a victory lap a la Jeff George (+1 for stunning imagery). He pauses on the OSU sideline whereupon his unicorn unleashes a bowel movement with the taste and consistency of Smoothie Mix Skittles (tm) (+1 for "serving" OSU). Pryor rips off his scarlet and gray rags, exposing the white tuxedo (+1 for conquest of a dapper opponent) he wears beneath his uniform. Tears sprinkle his youthful face (+1) and his ears flap like vulture wings in the cold autumn breeze. He is human, after all. This day has proven that. Tressel walks off the field, alone and inconsolable. He draws upon his inner self, pausing subtly in the aftermath, and makes a promise: next year's recruits will all receive pay raises. Far away, in a snowy suburb of Green Bay, Wisconsin, AJ Hawk glares menacingly at his wife, Brady Quinn, and says "go make me some lunch, woman." The zombie corpse of Woody Hayes stands upright and mournful, but only for second. For him, bloodlust is everything. For Michigan fans, however, unabated exuberance thickens the moment. It is butter-like and creamy. And delicious. To steal a thought from Carver, they know they are inside something: their houses, their neighborhood bars, their unicorn stables. But the taste is so ethereal, so magical, that they don't feel like they are inside of anything. It's really something.
Final : Michigan WIN, Ohio St LOSE. Numbers, are they really important in the grand scheme of life?
Wow. That was...
Well, no. The word I was looking for was, uh...what's the opposite of tremendous?
Yeah, that's the word. That was depressing.
Surely, doctors can prescribe something for this? Surely this can help?
I think all the doctors in the world would still recommend "an improved offensive line and quarterback." Pfizer can't help you.
But it says we won?
What is winning, really?
Victory over your opponents?
Is this a dream?
It might be.
I need a drink.
Jim Tressel NetFlix Queue
|1||Maid of Honor||Play||**||Romantic Comedy||Now|
|2||Alvin and the Chipmunks||*||Children’s||Now|
|3||Definitely, Maybe||Play||***||Romantic Comedy||Now|
|4||How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days||**||Romantic Comedy||Now|
|5||Fools Gold||**||Romantic Comedy||Now|
|6||Failure to Launch||***||Romantic Comedy||Now|
|7||My Best Friend’s Wedding||***||Romantic Comedy||Now|
Future NFL players on Michigan’s offense in 1995 (the only position without a future NFL player was right guard)
- QB – Brian Griese Denver Broncos (1998-2002) Miami Dolphins (2003) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004-2005, 2008-present) Chicago Bears (2006-2007)
- QB – Scott Dreisbach Oakland Raiders (1999-2000) Buffalo Bills (2001) Detroit Lions (2001-2002)
- RB – T. Biakabutuka Carolina Panthers (1996-2001)
- RB – Chris Floyd New England Patriots (1998-2000) Cleveland Browns (2000)
- RB – Chris Howard Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-2000)
- WR – Mercury Hayes New Orleans Saints (1996-1997) Atlanta Falcons (1997) Washington Redskins (1998)
- WR – Amani Toomer New York Giants (1996-Present)
- LT – Jon Runyan Houston Oilers/Tenn. Titans (1996–1999) Philadelphia Eagles (2000–present)
- LG – Damon Denson New England Patriots (1997-1999) Baltimore Ravens (2000)
- C – Rod Payne Cincinnati Bengals (1997-1998) Baltimore Ravens (2000)
- RT – Jon Jansen Washington Redskins (1999-present)
- TE – Jay Riemersma Buffalo Bills (1996–2002) Pittsburgh Steelers (2003–2004)
- TE – Jerame Tuman Pittsburgh Steelers (1999–2007) Arizona Cardinals (2008–present)
Hasta la victoria siempre!!
The Wolverine Liberation Army normally posts at http://www.wolverineliberationarmy.com
Throughout the first half of last night's game, the familiar thought crept up in the minds of Michigan fans: "If the offense just gets going, we've got this game." As per the script throughout much of this year, the offense never picked up enough for the Wolverines to steal a game against the #1 team in the Big Ten.
Michigan finished the first half with 15 points, something Brent Musberger and Steve Lavin continually pointed out during the second half. What they were neglecting to mention, however, was that this anemic offensive output only had Michigan down 10 points. The Spartans had only scored 15 themselves, and we hardly threatening to run away with the game.
The Wolverines performed admirably, despite giving up a lot of size to the Spartans. It's easy to see where this team will become a great one in the future as Ben Cronin, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan appear on the scene. This team might not be good enough to make it into the tournament, but losing CJ Lee, David Merritt, and Jevohn Shepherd while adding good size and a 4-star point guard bodes well for the future.
Zack Gibson remains a frustrating player. He has flashes of absolute brilliance, followed by shocking incompetence (especially on the defensive end of the floor). Manny also had a rough game, and had trouble getting to the line. The Wolverines were also an uncharacteristic 6-11 from the line, something you can't do against a rival - particularly when you're the best foul shooting team in the conference.
Michigan next faces Northwestern in Evanston Sunday. The Wolverines dominated the Crisler half of the home-and-home, and with tournament hopes dwindling, nearly every contest is a must-win from here on out.
The author's work normally appears on his own site, Varsity Blue.
Getting started shortly before the game, which begins at 7.
In one of the most vexing, muddled and up-in-the-air bubble situations the college hoops landscape has seen in recent years, Michigan split their games last week, but in the process elevated their overall profile.
A week after nearly unanimously falling out of most mock brackets, Michigan regained some footing by thumping everybody’s trendy dark horse Penn St by 20 and then going toe to toe on the road against top ranked Uconn. While the Wolverines upset bid fell oh so short, the game effort against the Huskies helped prove to most college hoop observers that UM can compete and beat tournament caliber teams. Also helping Michigan’s cause this week was the continuation of collapses at Notre Dame and Georgetown, several Big 12 bubble teams going winless on the week and fellow Big 10 bubble mates Penn St and Northwestern stepping back to the pack.
Despite ending the week with a loss, Michigan found itself in more mock brackets this week. After losing four of five games to close January, Michigan entered February in only a smattering of brackets, many of which had not been updated to even include Michigan’s more recent losses.
One week into the new month, Michigan finds itself in 18 of 52 mock brackets tracked by the Bracket Project. Nearly 40 percent of the accredited bracketologists label Michigan a tournament team, despite having just gone through its biggest slump of the season. That bodes well for Michigan’s chances, if they can close out strong and bang out a few more impressive wins.
If Michigan can pull out a winning record in their final seven games, a stretch that includes marquee home games against MSU (tonight), Minnesota (2/19) and Purdue (2/26), then a tourney bid is theirs for the taking. A 9-9 league mark ought to do the trick, so long as they do not have an embarrassing flame out in the Big 10 tournament and lose to Iowa or Indiana in a first round game.
The final two teams in the Amaker era broke even in the Big 10, but were denied a bid. Those teams failed to close strong. With a bid on the line in the season finale in both those seasons, Michigan failed to deliver a home win against Indiana and Ohio State respectively. Those Michigan teams did not have anything to brag about in the OOC slate either and, in fact, was routinely embarrassed in their big time non conference games.
This year’s squad is much different. To get to a .500 record in league play, they have to close strong. And, if they succeed, they will have beaten several tournament bound teams in February. And, unlike those Amaker squads, this year’s Michigan team boasts as strong a pair of OOC wins (Duke and UCLA) as anyone else in the country.
With less than five weeks until Selection Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines control their own destiny as far as earning a tournament bid. The path begins tonight with rival Michigan State in town. While awaiting tip off, here are some other observations about the latest round of mock brackets.
Blue Grass Blues
Is Kentucky in trouble? It’s hard to imagine a member of the college basketball royal family missing out on the tournament, but the Wildcats could not have picked a worse time to embark on a losing streak. The SEC has been maligned all winter with experts forecasting as few as four or three bids into the field. You don’t want to be an SEC team on the bubble right now—especially on a losing streak—as public perception will work against you.
Losers of three in a row, the Cats are already finding that public perception betraying them a bit. In the week since UK last played a game, more than one quarter (15 of 51) of the updated mock brackets have left them out of their field. Michigan, for example, is in 8 brackets which UK has been left out of, including such notables as the Bracket Project and collegehoopsnet.com.
The Wildcats are a team in need of win. Tonight’s home game with Florida (on ESPN after the MSU/UM) carries as much import for the home team as the showdown in Ann Arbor does. A win for UK really cures a lot of ills. However, a loss extends the losing streak for a team that plays four of its next five games on the road.
You know it’s bad in Lexington when fans are pining for the days of Eddie Sutton. While his tenure led to crippling probation, some folks wish the Gillespie had a bit of Old Man Sutton’s imagination as they try to fight their way out of a losing streak and off the bubble.
It was a boring week in the ACC, right? Landmark wins by Clemson over Duke and Miami over Wake during the week was followed by a weekend chalk full of dramatic comebacks. Duke, Florida State and Virginia Tech all climbed back from large halftime deficits to secure key wins. Ho hum, just another boring week in the ACC where it seems every game is not only close, but also played between final four contenders and/or good teams residing on the bubble.
It was a good week for the ACC as in some mock brackets, notably Lunardi’s at ESPN, the ACC now has 8 bids, the most of any other conference. The biggest team winner in all of this might have been Florida State. The Noles are one of five ACC bubble teams, but with all of them facing many hurdles between now and the end of the season, it’s really anybody’s guess how this whole thing will shake out. But, coming from behind to notch a road win at Clemson has the Noles, at least for now, standing out from the crowd. Most mock brackets have them securely in the field with a #7 seed or better. The Seminoles are close to being tournament locks and breaking their 10-year drought.
The rest of the ACC bubble still has work to do. Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami are still in most fields, albeit as double digit seeds. Neither of those teams can afford a losing spell or other teams will surely pass them. Maryland, the only league bubble team not in any recently updated mock fields, needs to go a prolonged winning streak to nudge back into contention.
Obviously, it’s a marquee week for the league with Wednesday night’s Duke/UNC showdown, but be sure to keep an eye on these games as their outcomes will go a long way in determining the next round of mock brackets: Clemson at BC, 2/10; Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 2/11; FSU at WF, 2/14; VT at Maryland, 2/14; Duke at BC, 2/14; and UNC at Miami, 2/14.
Another week, another new contender in the Big 12
We’re in the process of a complete overhaul of the bubble picture in the Big 12. Spurred by preseason expectations, Oklahoma St, Baylor and Texas A/M was the conventional wisdom’s pecking order for the last few invites for a league that should be a 6-bid conference. However, those three schools are just a combined 9-17 in league play and had been ping-ponging between being in and out of the mock brackets for the last several weeks. Each school went 0-2 during the last week of play. All three have fallen off the radar of most bracketologists and will need to go on a major run from here on out just to finish break even in conference play.
What’s worse is they’ve been bypassed by new bubble teams right out of their own league. Kansas State burst onto the scene the final week of January with wins over Missouri and Texas. The Wildcats followed the act by winning two more games last week—including a gutsy road win in College Station over the Aggies—to run their winning streak to five games. After the win, it’s fair to ask if the balance of power in the league has shifted divisions. The Wildcats have a big week ahead of them. They host Texas Tech tomorrow and then welcome KU in a huge showdown Saturday afternoon. With a manageable slate down the stretch, it will be difficult to keep KSU out of the field if they notch another two wins this week.
Meanwhile a new contender for a bid also emerged in the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska followed the same model KSU did previously and used a marquee win over Texas over the weekend to jump into bubble discussion. Are they tournament ready just yet? One Nebraska bracketologist says not yet, but its just a blast to even include them into the discussion. Nebraska’s bubble situation is just like Michigan’s, in that they have plenty of big name marks on the schedule where wins could boost their resume right into the field. Unlike, Michigan, however, all those contests are on the road. In their final seven games, Big Red has to travel to Missouri, Kansas, KSU and Baylor. If they don’t get at least one win from that group of games, the Huskers will be a .500 team at best in league play. With an OOC resume devoid of any big time wins and marred with bad losses to Oregon St and Maryland Baltimore County, I doubt that will cut it come Selection Sunday.
Beware, Mock Bracket Darling
One of the more interesting trends this winter has been watching the rise—and subsequent fall—of the Mock Bracket Darling. I define this species as a team which nobody is even discussing, but after an impressive week suddenly shoots to the top of everyone’s bubble list. Two weeks ago, the Darling was Virginia Tech. After notching landmark road wins at Wake and Miami, the Hokies came out of nowhere and made appearances in just about everyone’s mock fields. Last week, bracketologists everywhere lauded Penn St, and 24 hours after their road win at Michigan St, the Nittany Lions made their own debut in the mocks.
Both teams found their new found status too much to bear. The Hokies immediately choked a big lead and lost at home to Clemson, followed by a buzzer beating loss to BC. While they won their only game last week, the Hokies place in any eventual field is far from secure. Penn St followed their appearance in the mocks by getting blown out at Michigan and losing at home to Wisconsin. After dropping a pair of bubble battles, the Nittany Lions find themselves out of most mock fields as quickly as they were placed inside them.
If you’ve become a Mock Bracket Darling, you had better watch your back.
If this trend holds up, that bears bad news for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Alleged to be a bottom half team from the Big East, the Bearcats have parlayed a recent hot run into an ‘in the field’ status by most accounts. The Bearcats run includes a win over Notre Dame and a sweep of Georgetown. With those programs cratering towards the NIT and Providence on a three-game losing streak, the Bearcats have found themselves as the last Big East team in the field. According the Bracket Matrix, 41 mock fields have posted since this weekend’s action and the Bearcats find themselves in 27 of those fields. In most of those mocks, CU is either an 11 or 12 seed and among the final teams overall placed on the board.
The Bearcats have one of the conference’s best scorers in Deonta Vaughn. They also have one the league’s top Diaper Dandies in Yancy Gates, who was just named Big Eat Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. Their coach highlights a down to the wire loss at Uconn as the season’s turning point. Hopefully, Michigan can follow suit after their near miss against the Huskies on Saturday.
Can they avoid the Mock Bracket Darling Hex? After a gimme at home against St John’s this week, the Bearcats still have games with Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse and West Virginia between now and March 1. If they can come out of the stretch alive, we might need to find a permanent place in the field for them.
Un4gettable? You had to be there
Away from mock brackets, there was a dose of Michigan related hoops news over the weekend. Do you remember Chris Weber? He played on the Fab Five and advanced to a couple of Final Fours during his years at Michigan. Allegedly.
Anyway, the Sacramento Kings of the NBA retired good old #4’s number in a dramatic ceremony Friday night. All the luminaries that you would expect at such an event showed up. Like Scott Pollard and Doug Christie. Mateen Cleaves was even there and spoke to the crowd about C-Web.
There was a little problem, however, with the crowd that night. Apparently dozens of Wise Guys showed up to honor Weber as well. The Kings did not have enough seats for them, but I am sure Chris, good guy that he is, invited them all out to his post game celebration. It was touching moment, indeed.
It feels like it's been a long time since this game really mattered. Michigan has beaten the Spartans a couple times in Crisler Arena over the past few years, but they have fallen short of the NCAA tournament time and time again. The six years of the Tommy Amaker era saw Michigan take a couple steps forward, but in the end the improvements proved to be nothing more than a flash in the pan. Amaker did win a few more games than Brian Elerbee (Thank God) but another coach has come and gone, and now John Beilein gets his shot at steering this club into the tournament.
These two programs are on different levels, that much is undeniable. The Michigan program is showing signs of life and with a few more wins could be on the brink of their first NCAA tournament berth since 1998. In contrast, since UCLA knocked Michigan out of that NCAA tournament 11 years ago, Michigan State has won a National Championship, accumulated three Big Ten crowns, been to four Final Fours, and made it to the NCAA tournament each and every year.
Naysayers might say that a rivalry can't exist when you have two programs that have traveled down such different paths over the last decade or so. They are dead wrong, this rivalry is alive and Tom Izzo makes that much clear:
"Everybody wanted a rivalry, well, you've got one,"
This rivalry is very much doing just fine and Michigan has a chance to pump a little more life into the rivalry tonight. In-state rivalries are just different; households are divided, friendships are split, and pride is on the line. Try telling Manny Harris or Kalin Lucas this game doesn’t mean just a little bit more, that this matchup doesn’t get just a little bit more attention, and they might have something to say. Michigan-Michigan State is the rivalry that burns in my heart, every winter this is the rivalry that matters. I'll worry about that team in Columbus next fall.
In-state talent is the foundation of both programs, so naturally recruiting lies at the heart of the rivalry. Over 65% of both teams' scoring comes from in-state players and four of the five highest profile players in this game all hail from the state of Michigan: Manny Harris, Kalin Lucas, Goran Suton, and DeShawn Sims. You would be crazy to think that any of these guys don't understand the rivalry.
If there’s one guy on Michigan’s roster who learned firsthand just how heated this rivalry can be on the recruiting trail, it’s DeShawn Sims. DeShawn had narrowed his school list to Michigan, Michigan State, and Syracuse and started mentioning a "one school list" early in the summer of 2005. Izzo continued to recruit DeShawn throughout the summer despite the consensus feeling that Michigan was the school on that one team list. When DeShawn informed Izzo that he was headed to Michigan, Izzo reportedly let him have a piece of his mind in a way that only Tom Izzo can. Izzo berated him for wasting his time and told him that he should have just committed to Michigan instead of leading him on. Rumors and speculation spread like wildfire between enraged coaches, reporters, and message board posters in a nonsensical way that only an in-state rivalry could stir up.
The star studded sophomore class that will star in tonight's game is made up of long time friends from the city of Detroit. Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, and Manny Harris (pictured above) starred together for Detroit area AAU team The Family, tearing apart the best high school competition in the country. Manny and Kalin are still good friends, but that didn't stop Kalin from coming up with fake trash talk, that supposedly came straight from Manny Harris' mouth, to motivate Travis Walton to beat one of the worst Wolverine teams in recent history:
"I was telling Travis how Manny was talking stuff when actually he wasn't," Lucas said. "I was just getting him pumped up and juiced for the game and it worked."
What exactly was Lucas saying?
"I was just saying, 'Manny said you too little, you too small, you're 6-1, you can't hold him, you can't check him,'" Lucas said. "I just had to get in Travis' head a little bit and Travis went out there and played great defense."
How important is this game to John Beilein? The head coach -- widely regarded as one of the best teachers of the game by analysts, scouts, and coaches across the country -- was rejected early on by Detroit PSL coaches. Beilein dug himself further into a hole when he offered Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, two unknowns from Indiana, rather than pursue the mid-level talent available in the PSL. Leading two Detroit kids (Manny and DeShawn) to a win over Michigan State tonight would certainly be a message to those coaches that they should start to pay attention to the headman in Ann Arbor.
The first head-to-head recruiting battle between John Beilein and Tom Izzo was over Draymond Green. Green turned down the opportunity for ample playing time in Michigan's sparse front court, and is now playing only 9.3 minutes per game for the Spartans. Many recruiting analysts thought Draymond was headed to Ann Arbor before a late Michigan State offer swayed Day-Day to the green and white. It's hard to interpret that as anything more than a statement from Tom Izzo – stay out of my backyard.
The recruiting battle between these two schools will wage on. Both schools pulled in big men from Detroit in the 2009 class, but have yet to battle over any other recruits. All eyes are pointing toward the class of 2010 where top in-state talent like Trey Zeigler, Ray McCallum, Isaiah Sykes, and Alex Gauna are already drawing Michigan and Michigan State interest. Izzo drew first blood in the fledgling battle, gaining a commitment from Pershing High School 4-star point guard Keith Appling.
Forging An Identity
All great coaches and programs have an identity. One of the problems with the Tommy Amaker era was that those teams never really had something to hang their hats on. There are many ways to win in college basketball and every great coach has his own style. Tom Izzo built the Michigan State program on defense and rebounding, while John Beilein's teams have been constructed around the three point shot and eliminating turnovers.
Is one way better than the other? I don't think so. Izzo has the stronger resume at this point in his career but he's been at a high-major program for a much longer period of time than Beilein. Beilein has won at every level and right now appears to have Michigan headed in the right direction, maybe even ahead of schedule.
The contrasting styles of the two teams will make for an interesting game tonight, and a hell of a rivalry down the line. Michigan State is the best rebounding team in the country. They rebound 41.8% of their misses and 73% of their opponents' misses, the only team to rank in the top 10 in both rebounding categories.
Michigan shoots almost 50% of their shots from behind the arc and while they haven't knocked them down consistently, they have shown just how potent the offense can be when the shots are going in. Regardless of their shooting struggles, Michigan has turned into a team that values the ball. They turn the ball over on only 17.2% of their possessions, 15th best in the country. Holding onto the ball kept Michigan in plenty of games, and even helped lead to a couple huge upsets.
How did Michigan beat UCLA? Not with shooting or rebounding. They shot only 43% from the field and allowed UCLA to rebound over 40% of their misses. Michigan won that game by winning the turnover battle, turning it over on only 15.8% their possessions, while forcing UCLA to turn it over on 29.8% of theirs.
John Beilein and Tom Izzo certainly respect each other and will go out of their way to be extremely classy in public -- no short jokes or moments of silence here. But don't get it twisted, they aren't rooting for each other:
"Am I gonna sit here and look you in the eye and say, 'I'm pulling for Michigan?" Izzo asked. "Well if I do that, or John Beilein (says he's pulling for Michigan State), we're both drinking something funny."
There is no love lost between the Michigan and Michigan State fans, and with only one game scheduled this year, tonight’s result will be the center of any trash talk for the next 12 months. An airing of grievances could go on forever. Michigan State fans will complain about the Fab Five "disrespecting" the Spartan block "S" in the middle of the Breslin Center. Michigan fans will complain about Izzo running up the score on Mateen Cleaves' senior night, 114-63. If you’re a fan of a team of either side of this rivalry, something over the last 15 or 20 years rips you apart -- for me its hearing thousands of Michigan State fans in Ann Arbor chanting “We Own Crisler” during the darkest days of Michigan basketball.
Tonight's game is huge for each program for very different reasons. Michigan State is looking to get the proverbial monkey off their back and win their first Big Ten Championship since 2001. Michigan is trying to shed the weight of the 1000 pound gorilla that is the NCAA tournament. Remember, Manny Harris was only 8 years old the last time Michigan made the dance. Michigan athletic director Bill Martin was quick to call the Duke win "a watershed event", but if Michigan can't win a few more games down the stretch it won't be anything more than a preview of the Michigan team we might see down the road.
Dylan Burkhardt's work can be found on his own site, UM Hoops, which can be found at www.umhoops.com. UM Hoops focuses on all aspects of Michigan basketball. If you are looking for more coverage of tonight's game make sure to check out his statistics-centric preview, interview with KJ of The Spartans Weblog, as well as KJ's interview.
Since our fearless leader typically gives recruiting updates each Monday, I'll carry the torch in his absence. My site, Varsity Blue, is a little more recruiting-oriented, and already has updates on many of these guys.
Michigan will probably take 2, at least one of whom is a star.
Devin Gardner comes from Inkster Michigan. He will probably be a 5-star prospect, and is one of the Wolverines' top recruiting targets.
Malik Stokes is a dual-threat QB from Philadelphia Northeast High School. If the name and school sound familiar, it's because his older borther, Je'Ron, signed with Michigan last week.
Michigan will probably take 2 or 3 running backs.
Austin White from Livonia Stevenson will be among the top prospects in the state, but he comes from a Green-and-White family.
Brennan Clay hails from California, and is a high school teammate of Tate Forcier. He is a speedy prospect, but might lok to stay on the west coast.
Nick Hill from Chelsea grew up a Michigan fan, and most people predict he will commit if offered.
Michigan might take 1 tight end, 3ish wideouts, and a couple slots.
Ricardo Miller was Michigan's first commit in the 2010 class. The Florida WR is expected to be a 5-star prospect.
Jeremy Jackson is the son of Michigan's RB coach Fred Jackson, and was Michigan's second 2010 commit.
Jerald Robinson is expected to commit today, and would be Michigan's third in the class. He has potential to move positions down the line.
De'Joshua Johnson from Pahokee is a good slot candidate. He is electric with the ball in his hands, and the Blue Devils may slot him in at QB this year.
Chris Dunkleyalso comes from Florida, and he is yet another diminutive potential slotman.
CJ Fiedorowicz is the #1 TE in the country, an he reports a 40-yard dash time under 4.6 seconds, despite being 6-7.
Michigan loses a couple offensive linemen after 2009, and will likely take 2 or 3 in 2010.
Seantrel Henderson is the #1 overal recruit in the nation, and the Minneapolis product may not be a particularly realiztic target for Michigan.
Robert Crisp, on the other hand, isn't far behind Henderson, and he is mentioning Michigan as a school of interest early in the process.
Jose Jose has a spectacular name and good quickness, which is at a premium in Michigan's scheme. However, he hails from Miami, and grew up a fan of the Hurricanes.
Christopher Devezin comes from Cass Tech, but it isn't clear if he has potential to be a Michigan recruit.
After missing on a couple of guys in 2009, DT is again a need in 2010. 2 or 3 might be necessary.
Jay Guy from Texas has a Michigan offer already, and like the Wolverines. He should be a highly-regarded prospect, and there will be plenty of competition for him.
Richard Ash, Doral Willis, and Anotnio Ford are all from Pahokee, and Michigan might change up the pipeline a bit and take a lineman from the school this year.
Michigan loses an impact player in Brandon Graham, but they have enough talent in the pipeline that they only need 1 or 2 ends.
William Gholston is a near-lock for 5-star status, and will battle Gardner for #1 prospect in the state. Michigan is on him early, battling State (the leader?) and Ohio State (which turned his cousin, Vernon, into an NFL first-rounder).
Derrick Bryant from Columbus Brookhaven has Michigan interest, and he's talked about wanting to make an early decision.
Darryl Baldwin from Solon Ohio is another prospect that Michigan has taken an early interest in - extending an offer.
Michigan doesn't lose any LBs off the 2009 roster, but they need impact players at the position. Maybe 1 or 2.
Austin Gray from Warren Fitzgerald is reporting a Michigan offer early in the process, and will be among the top LBs in the state.
Jewone Snow hails from Canton McKinley, and knows Jerald Robinson. He is also the son of Michigan great Garland Rivers.
VJ Fehoko from Hawaii is expected to be one of the nation's top linebackers. He is reporting early Michigan interest.
Daniel Easterly is a bit of an enigma. The Cass Tech product is athletic enough to play corner at 6-6, so if he can fill out his frame well, he could have tons of upside.
Michigan only loses Stevie Brown off the 2009 roster, and probably wants an impact player or two.
Marvin Robinson was once considered a Michigan lock, but now is looking to take his time with his recruitment. He is a probable 5-star guy.
Michigan will probably take a couple guys who have potential to make an impact.
Lorenza Wood from Orlando has had Michigan near the top of his list for some time. He is also expected to make an early decision, so the Wolverines are hoping he chooses them.
Dior Mathis out of Cass Tech is the mighty mite of the bunch. He is reminiscent of Boubacar Cissoko (though perhaps even smaller), but could end up as a slot on the other side of the ball. He grew up a Miami of Florida fan.
Cullen Christian from Penn Hills, PA has talked early about Michigan being one of his favorites. He would be a taller complement to a corner group.
Jerald Robinson is a 2010 wide receiver, from Canton, Ohio. He has just informed me that he will be committing to the University of Michigan today. Robinson plays receiver in a spread offense very similar to Michigan's. Take a look at his highlight video, and the conversation we had.
TOM: So you’re committing to Michigan, what stood out the most?
JERALD: I always had a feel for Michigan. OSU was my top school at one point, but I realized that Michigan is about to be in a good stage. I like the fans, and the atmosphere was nice too. I went to a game, and it was a lot of fun. I got the offer from them, and I talked to my family about it, and they thought it would be a good idea.
TOM: What positions do you play right now?
JERALD: I play receiver and safety. I like receiver more, and that’s what the coaches are talking to me. I play the X receiver, so they want me there.
TOM: Have you talked to any Michigan commits, or players?
JERALD: I talked to Ricardo Miller today, he texted me. We had a conversation, and I wasn’t sure when I was going to commit. I talked to Justin Turner today too. Ricardo told me the atmosphere, and the fans are crazy. The coaches treat you real good, and that made a good impression on me.
TOM: Did you just want to get your recruitment out of the way, or is this more of you’re committed, and see what happens?
JERALD: In some other peoples point of view they might want to look around, but I’m just committing. There are no other schools I’m going to be looking at. My recruitment is done after this, and I just can’t wait to be a Wolverine.
TOM: Are there any other recruits in your class you talk to?
JERALD: I talked to Jewone Snow, he’s offered by Michigan State already. I talk to Jamel Turner, but that’s it really.
TOM: What camps and combines will you be going to this summer?
JERALD: I’m going to the Michigan camp for sure, but I’m not sure about any other combines. There’s no reason to go to any really.
TOM: What are you most excited about for college, and Michigan?
JERALD: I’m excited to meet new people, and to be out of the state of Ohio. I want to get out of Ohio and experience new things. Justin Turner told me that you meet a whole different family, and you can start a new life. That’s what I think I need.
TOM: Where are you ranked with the recruiting services, and the coaches?
JERALD: I know I’m in the Rivals 250 to watch. But the coaches, just Michigan has offered, but everyone else was talking about spring offers. Coach Rodriguez told me once he started watching my film; he wanted me to pick Michigan. He offered on the spot. We run the spread too, so I fit into what he does.
It wasn't the dominating effort that the Wolverines had Friday night, but they grinded one out last night and got the much-needed sweep of the Lakers.
Bryan Hogan was pretty great in net, making 26 saves on the night. He was rock solid between the pipes and made a few huge stops.
His first big save was in the first five minutes. Langlais turned it over and a Michigan clearing attempt hit a Laker skate and bounced to Schwab right in the slot. Hogan was quick with the right pad from point-blank range to keep the game scoreless.
Pateryn was called for cross-checking on the play and Hogan made a stop on Sim once Sim stepped through our defense.
The Wolverines got it going after the penalty was killed off. Miller made a nice pass to Czarnik, but the Laker defenseman was quick with the stick to knock it away. Palushaj then found Rust in the slot and Rust just missed the top corner.
Caporusso, Lebler, Palushaj and Langlais all had good chances on Michigan's next power play effort.
Then late in the period Gysbers snapped one on net that hit a couple people on the way through. Hogan had a little trouble with it and pushed it out to the right. No Michigan defender was on that side of the net and MacVoy had a wide-open net. He buried it and gave the Lakers their second 1-0 lead on the weekend.
But just like the night before, the Lakers had a costly letdown right before intermission. Just 18 seconds later, Hagelin took the puck in the corner to the right of Inglis, carried it out to the blueline then wheeled into the middle of the ice. He cut right down the middle and sent a laser low on the blocker-side to tie the game back up. That was almost a carbon copy of one of my favorite Steve Yzerman goals.
Great news during the first intermission. Chris Summers is interviewed and says that every player he's talked to who has come through the program has told him to stay in school and enjoy it for as long as he can. He then says, "I want to stay. I want to finish. I've been here three years already, so what's another year? It's another chance for me to grow as a player and grow as a person. And I'll get my degree." Sounds like our on-ice captain will be back in 09-10.
Gysbers took a penalty early in the second and Michigan didn't get much going. Red had talked about making good decisions on the power play and they didn't on that opportunity. Langlais and Caporusso both passed up great chances while looking for the perfect pass.
Winnett had a great look and Inglis stoned him with the pad. Then Summers had a follow-up opportunity and Inglis got that one as well.
The Wolverines jumped ahead when Czarnik fed Palushaj with a pass. Palushaj ripped one off the pad of Inglis and the rebound went right onto Lebler's stick. Lebler didn't miss and the Wolverines had themselves a 2-1 lead. You would think that I wouldn't forget to mention such a crucial play in my original edition of this story. But you'd be wrong.
Llewellyn had a nice break-up on a pass through the slot that would've been an easy tap-in. Then the Lakers started hitting some beautiful passes where the recipient couldn't get a stick on it. Perkovich found Barczuk twice on one shift and Barczuk let it slide off his stick both times or he would've had two blockbuster scoring chances. Then someone hit Sim behind the defense and he couldn't handle it.
Hogan then left a soft rebound but completely redeemed himself by somehow getting across the net to make a huge stop on Nehring. Miller hooked Nehring as well, but Hogan still had to be sharp. He was shaken up for a minute but stayed in the game.
LSSU didn't do anything on the power play and then Burlon made a great pass to Czarnik, but Inglis got across with his pad and then stopped the Czarnik shot on the rebound.
Michigan got a couple of power play to start the third and Wohlberg thought he was in all alone but was whistled on the offside. He didn't like it, but a frame-by-frame replay showed he was off by a step. Great call by the linesman.
Rust was left open in the slot on a turnover and the Wolverines got him the puck. It was hard to tell if Inglis got that one or if Rust shot wide, but either way it was a great opportunity.
The Lakers came out two-on-one and Burlon did a great job of taking the pass away. Schwab had to shoot and Hogan was able to get out to the top of his crease and smother it.
Palushaj hit the post off a great drop-pass from Rust and then tipped a shot from the point right on, Inglis made a great save.
The last 7 minutes of the hockey game was all special teams. The Lakers got the first crack at a power play and Schwab just walked Summers, but Hogan was strong again. MacVoy then had a golden opportunity to get his second of the night. On the replay I couldn't tell if it hit the post or if Hogan got it, but I think our keeper made the save.
Two hits from behind on the Lakers gave Michigan 4 minutes of power play time over the last 4 1/2 minutes and that was pretty much all she wrote. Caporusso tried to snipe one and just missed. For the second PP, Michigan pretty much went with the prevent and threw out our best defensive forwards—Miller, Hagelin, and Rust—to prevent any short-handed chances (or maybe the other units were just tired).
The Lakers pulled the goalie and Michigan missed on about six cracks at the empty net. LSSU never came close to getting the game tied with the goalie out and Michigan came out with a 2-1 win.
Hogan was fantastic. He made several stops on guys who walked in all alone and his stop on Schwab early in the game was flat out robbery. The defense was pretty good, though they let LSSU walk in untouched a little too often for my liking, but Hogan bailed them out when he needed to.
Hagelin was great yet again—by the way, I absolutely love the Swedish flags in the student section…that's kind of awesome. As was the case Friday night, a Michigan goal late in the period prevented LSSU from carrying momentum into the intermissionn. And that was a highlight-reel goal for sure.
I also thought Winnett had a very good weekend. He wasn't the best player out there or anything like that, but he drew several penalties, and showed a lot more offensively than he has at any point in his Michigan career.
The line of Hagelin, Rust, and Palushaj was really fantastic. They had a ton of chances—how Rust didn't pot one I don't know—and provided the typically awesome defensive play that line is known for.
We made up our games in hand on Miami this weekend and we're now just two points behind them in the standings. We're 2 ahead of Alaska (still with two games in hand) and two ahead of OSU after they knocked off the Irish this afternoon. (By the way, how big are those blown calls by Brian Aaron now? We'd be two points back with six games to play, and we'd have the tie-breaker on them.) We face Omaha next weekend and the best they can do is tie us in the standings, but we'd still have two games in hand. With six games left to play, we're sitting in really good shape to get a first-round bye in the CCHA Playoffs. We're also sitting in a tie for third in the Pairwise now, which would give us a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They've done a really nice job pulling themselves off the bubble and turning into a team that no one is going to want to face come late-March.
The one thing that could end up being our Achilles heel is the power play. 0 for 7 on the night with just seven shots. They had some decent looks, but you gotta put some pucks in the net. We're the #11 scoring offense in the country, but just #42 on the power play at 14.3%. Ohio State and Denver are the only other teams in the country who have had similar struggles on the power play while remaining in the top 10-15 in offense. And they're still 10+ positions higher in the national PP rankings than we are. There's no reason for a team with this much talent to be that bad on the PP. They've still got some time to figure it out before the tournament.
Jim Roque was apparently very unhappy with the officiating at the end of the game, and Art Regner indicated Roque thought the Wolverines were diving a lot. I'll agree that the hit from behind on Palushaj with 2 minutes left probably could've been let go—it wasn't blatant and it was a pretty physical series—but his team had four more power plays than we did the night before, despite getting soundly outplayed (and it would've been five more save for a penalty with a whole 35 seconds left in the game). I can't say I have a lot of sympathy for him on that one. The other calls in the third were all legit, in my opinion. Despite the McInchak presence, I actually thought it was a pretty well-officiated weekend. Definitely better than we saw against Notre Dame and FYS, that's for sure.
If you're interested in additional hockey coverage, you can read a lot more from me at The Blog That Yost Built