"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
|7||Miami (Florida) (8)||17.8||10|
Blogpoll did good this week, spreading first place votes out after Florida's somewhat weak performance, rewarding Miami (That Miami) and Cincinnati for their early-season wizardry, and… uh… shooting Michigan up six spots for not much reason. Woo! The only disappointment is that both potential CK Award victims are facing two-touchdown plus spreads.
BONUS: A week after slotting Houston a few places behind Oklahoma State, the blogosphere experiences regret and fixes their error. This here poll is the only one with the Cougars above the Cowboys, and long may it last. (It probably won't, as Houston's got Texas Tech this week.)
The rest of the top 25 at CBS Sports.
Alltime updates can be found in the 2010 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Your Breathless Seantrel Henderson Update Returns!
It's been a while since I've talked about the recruitment of MN OL Seantrel Henderson (Photo by the Pioneer Press) in Wednesday Recruitin', so this should be a pretty serious update, especially considering that he's one of the most-discussed recruits in recent memory. First, we head to ESPN and Steve Wiltfong:
"The choice will ultimately be up to Seantrel, but we're trying our best to make sure he gets the best experience," said Sean Henderson, Seantrel's father.
Not that I'm going to accuse any parental tampering here, but this quote is fairly ironic, considering Seantrel started the recruiting process saying "I'm not interested in Notre Dame." The instant his father took over the media correspondence, Notre Dame was suddenly among his favorites, and they're now receiving an official visit. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. Also of note from the article:
Besides the schools he's taking official visits to [ed.: ND, USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Florida] and Minnesota, the five-star Henderson is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin.
That's still a top-10 list, and there's a lot of time before Signing Day, when he plans to decide. All teams still have a somewhat-legit chance at landing the guy.
Local fluff on Seantrel. For what it's worth, he still plans to try both football and basketball at his school of choice. The emergence of Michigan's basketball program can only help the Wolverines in that regard.
Tim Brewster took to a helicopter to impress local recruits, including Henderson (photo from MNdaily.com). In an article on the same topic, his high school coach implies that there may be some (slight) academic concerns with Seantrel:
"He'll always take care of the football part of it," Scanlan said. "I just hope he gets his homework done and that he is getting everything taken care of when he comes back on Monday. That's the part that might be a concern. Because there are so many distractions; he's really focused on football. Let's just make sure that school takes care of itself, too."
Keep on eye on that, though it doesn't sound like he's in danger of not qualifying.
Seantrel is writing a weekly diary for the Pioneer Press, and I hope this is just an unfortunate coincidence in paragraph structure:
I heard this week from Ohio State, USC, Michigan and Oklahoma. It is tough sometimes to tell a school you aren't really interested...
Considering it's the Wolverines among a group of his top schools, I don't think that's intended to imply that he's uninterested in any of those programs.
Doug Lesmerises gives fluff from Seantrel's official visit, including a couple relevant quotes:
"Mostly I want to know about academics," Henderson says. "I want to learn about that if I'm going to be staying here for three years or whenever, and I want to know the people I'm surrounded by. I didn't know Ohio State was like, the biggest school. I didn't know they were so high on the academics and they give a lot of help to athletes."
Obligatory laughing at each part of the last sentence for entirely different reasons. For the record, Seantrel enjoyed his visit to Columbus, though there was nothing really said other than standard post-visit quotes (aside from his dad thinking Oklahoma is still in the Big 8, of course).
And, after that huge information dump, I'll editorialize for minute. Henderson (unlike many prospects) realizes that it's talent, and not school choice, that will get him to the NFL. Sure, he can pick up better coaching at some places than others, but if he's an NFL player, he's an NFL player, regardless of where he goes. Because of that understanding, the two biggest factors in his recruitment are expected to be education (check) and ability to win a championship while he's in school.
There's been a lot of murky insider-y talk about Michigan being one of Seantrel's favorite schools, but he's uncertain over whether he'd be able to win a championship in Ann Arbor. The fast start to the season really helps in that regard, especially beating one of his other contenders, in Notre Dame. If the Wolverines keep winning, they can really help themselves with a number of prospects, Henderson not least among them.
Your Quarterbacking Overlord Fears No Man
There has been some internet hand-wringing about what will happen to the commitment status of MI QB Devin Gardner with Tate Forcier having such a good stellar season. However, there's nothing to worry about. Devin thinks Tate looks very good, and he's not worried about competing against a possibly-entrenched starter. He'll compete to earn playing time, and if he doesn't get any of those minutes, he'll accept a redshirt.
Because it's Clear they're Needed...
...Michigan is still pursuing a number of linebackers. The main options:
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan has been a soft commit to Duke for quite some time, and his visit to Michigan seemed to have softened it even further. Since his interest in the Blue Devils has been waning, he made it official, decommitting from Duke. That's a good sign for Michigan, especially considering how much he enjoyed his time in Ann Arbor. He's taking another one sometime this winter, so if Michigan wants him, they appear to have as good a shot as any.
MD LB Josh Furman had long been planning to announce a decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl in December, but now it seems like a decision may be coming sooner ($, info in header). He was also in attendance for the Michigan-Notre Dame Game, which again is probably a good thing, considering it came shortly after heading to Ann Arbor.
MD LB Troy Gloster is a third realistic option, and he has had the Wolverines near the top of his list for quite some time now. Now it appears as though they're in a top 2 with West Virginia, and a decision might be coming before the end of his high school season ($, info in header). If such a decision does indeed happen, Michigan would at least know where it stands in it linebacker hunt.
If Michigan is unable to land any of those three linebackers, there are a couple prospects slightly lower on the recruiting board that they still have a chance at landing. One such player is OH LB Jewone Snow, son of Michigan great Garland Rivers (and nephew of Michigan State's Percy and Eric Snow). He'll observe the in-state battle on October 3rd, which may help him decide which team he likes more. Of course, one reason I'm personally enamored with Snow is his connection to 2011 OH DE Steve Miller, one of the top prospects in the Buckeye State.
In the Trenches
Though they'd fallen off his radar, the Wolverines have put themselves back on it for NC DE/DT Gabe King. Still, his coach has a lot of connections out west (his two favorites are Oregon and Cal), and he's now moving to Oregon, so don't expect MIchigan to seriously contend for him(King photo by Roy Philpott for the Detroit News).
MN DT Beau Allen was receptive when Michigan finally came after him, but it appears as though they may have been too late. He has a top four, with a couple schools trailing behind, and Michigan is nowhere to be found.
|Last week's ballot|
Changes from Draft:
- Moved Ole Miss down. Their resume is far less impressive than a bunch of teams near the top, and is on par with (at best) Penn State. Speaking of whom, the Lions' resume probably doesn't quite warrant being ranked where they are, but I'll let momentum hold them for another week, since conference play in the Big Ten is rolling around, and they'll finally have a chance to actually prove themselves against Iowa. Cincinnati moves past both of those teams because they have big road wins against a team expected to win their own conference (Rutgers, whom they shitcanned) and one from the west coast.
- I moved Kansas down, down, down. I was talked into including them in week 1, and they have stayed on the poll mostly just because they were already there. Without good resume wins, they haven't earned their spot on the poll yet, and were bumped. Notre Dame took their spot.
- I moved Virginia Tech up, because they were being a little unfairly punished for one loss, when it was to the number one team. Considering they've beaten a ranked team, just like the Trojans, they should be around that level, so I slotted them between USC and Ohio State.
- I moved Iowa down because they have one bad win (Northern Iowa) and two fairly neutral wins (big over Iowa State, average over Arizona). That doesn't compare to most teams. They'll have a chance to prove themselves on the road against Penn State.
- Moved GT down some, because their offense hasn't been as impressive as last year, and they've been bad in both a win (Clemson) and a loss (Miami).
- UCLA replaced Oklahoma, because the Sooners have one "good" loss (to BYU), but no good wins yet. They'll have a chance in the near future (they play at MIami in a couple weeks) to get back into the poll.
In future weeks, I want to go strictly on a resume-only ranking. That might mean a little bit of chaos as far as the Mr. Manic-Depressive award goes next week, but that's life, I guess. I'll also try to be a little more transparent with my methodology, probably going with a chart, a la Dr. Saturday last year.
I will admit, some of the wonky-ish ratings have happened in attempt to not be irrationally exuberant on Michigan. With a transparent methodology, that won't happen anymore, and everything should be much more consistent.
Earlier this year when one Ohio State blogger who pops his head up around here from time to time invoked what must be the second most-dread name in coaching* to an Ohio State fan considering the leadership of his favored program, I basically scoffed at the comparison:
I'm not saying Jim Tressel is Lloyd Carr, but... what separates Lloyd Carr in say, 2002 or 2003, from Jim Tressel right now? This is a line of thought I've been seriously following for the better part of a year now. I'd like some input from Michigan fans on this.
Here's my input: that's way hasty.
Though Jim Tressel shares many of Lloyd Carr's philosophies, he's been much better at making sure his unwavering belief that he has a kick-ass defense, great special teams, and pounding ground game is accurate. This made his philosophies actually work on the field. It makes way more sense to play Lloyd/Tresselball when your quarterback is Craig Krenzel and your middle linebacker is AJ Hawk than when your quarterback is Tom Brady and your middle linebacker is Zack Kaufman.
And Tressel has consistently displayed an aptitude for pulling out the stops when it comes to The Game. The single play that leaps out to me from Tressel's oeuvre that demonstrates his mastery of Michigan came midway through 2006's Football Armageddon. Ohio State rushed to the line after a nine-yard gain, aligned in a power formation, snapped the ball almost as soon as it was set, and ran play action that sucked Ryan Mundy up and led to an easy touchdown. That touchdown represented the four points separating a win from a loss and spoke of meticulous, wily preparation. (And, of course, the fact that Michigan safety play was consistently awful for ten years.) Jim Tressel is only a dinosaur when it suits him, which is usually but not always.
"Usually" is fine when you're going up against teams you've out-recruited for a decade. It's not when you're going up against USC or Florida or Texas, and in the aftermath of Ohio State's six straight failed attempt to prove themselves something other than a local bully, Ohio State fans got antsy, even angry. Then Chris Brown of Smart Football unloaded on Jim Tressel in a guest post at Doctor Saturday. You've probably seen it already. It instantly became an internet sensation everywhere from here to Ohio State message boards to, apparently (and possibly apocryphally), Tressel himself on Columbus radio. It's remarkable in a number of ways, but mostly for the strident tone Brown adopts. Brown has established himself as the blogosphere's most knowledgeable and perceptive observer of football, and he's done so without depressing a key in anger. The effect of the piece was similar to Bill Cosby calling someone you hate a stupid caveman:
[Tressel] is not good enough of a tactician to win against the national elite who, unlike practically everyone he schemes against in his conference, have the talent to match Ohio State's, and those are the only games where coaching really matters. With his facilities, talent, and resources, winning the Big Ten is not the test.
Look at the numbers. Ohio State's failure to beat a quality opponent since defeating Michigan to punch a ticket to the national championship game in 2006, Tressel's teams have been outclassed, outsmarted, outplayed and outprepared in every big game they've played.
If you haven't read it already, stop everything immediately and do so. The thing is pure porn for Wolverines, especially because the counter-example to stupid is the guy currently calling the plays for Tate Forcier.
You'll note that the other side of the ball was ahead of USC's curve. This seems like less of an accomplishment than it did a week ago, but this kind of statement from an offensive lineman…
“We spent all night trying to adjust to what they were doing up front. They did not come with the stuff we practiced against.”
…is the precise opposite of what Michigan fans will remember hearing and loathing whenever Michigan made a Rose Bowl against teams that would bash their heads in with a stick. That's high praise for the coaches and something that keeps Ohio State afloat even when they've got wonky quarterbacking—which, by my count, has been all but two years of Tressel's tenure.
This is about adaptation. In Michigan's win over Notre Dame, Tate Forcier threw 33 times, which was eight more attempts than Pat White ever had at West Virginia. Meanwhile, Tressel attempts to pound a square peg into a round, arm-punting hole. This goes beyond just the playcalling, though you'd never think it given the postgame reaction.
There was a minor hubbub about Tressel dropping something analogous to Rich Rodriguez's infamous "get a life" quote, albeit in exquisitely Senator Tressel fashion:
"When I read some of them I feel terrible for them because there's no way they're happy," he said. "They've got to be some of the most unhappy people in the world, and I feel bad because we just made them less happy, and I hate to be a part of making someone less happy. I mean, they're already miserable."
Exact same sentiment as "get a life," but respun in a way that defuses the hubbub. Yea, truly, Jim Tressel is a brilliant politician. But Holy God the only person to not totally ignore the big story from that press conference was Adam Rittenberg, who spent a bunch of his post on the matter detailing the ridiculous decisions Tressel made en route to defeat:
Tressel, who said he makes most of the play calls even though Jim Bollman has the title of offensive coordinator, disdained going for a touchdown in favor of an easy field goal on fourth-and-goal at the USC 1 early in the second quarter. He also favored punting on fourth-and-1 at the USC 45 in the third quarter.
With around 8 minutes left in the game and Ohio State gripping a 15-10 lead, the Buckeyes drove to a first down at the USC 35. After a run gained 3 yards, quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw an incompletion and then was sacked for a 4-yard loss that meant kicker Aaron Pettrey would have a 53-yard attempt on fourth-and-11 at the USC 36. Tressel elected to punt again.
That punt led to the Trojans taking control for an impressive 86-yard drive that won the game.
Ohio State is going toe-to-toe with a program they consider their equal. They're actually a significant underdog, with USC favored by seven. And Tressel kicked a field goal from the one yard line, punted on fourth and one on USC's side of the field, and punted from the USC 36. All of these things are insane by the numbers and more so when you've recruited a 6'6" beast of a quarterback who can fall forward for a first down behind the swamp-beast of a guard who you stole from Michigan. Tressel shriveled up and reduced variance in a game he is the underdog in because he finds it extremely hard to shift gears. By doing so he set his team up to lose a narrow lead late. His decisions can be directly blamed for the loss. Ohio State should never have been up only five points in that game. Engineering students of Ohio State, welcome to the same level of hell I was on after the 2005 Ohio State game. May you reside here long and painfully.
This is a failure to adapt. For twenty years Tressel has operated at a significant talent advantage relative to almost all of his peers. With the relative collapses of Michigan and Penn State—who has beaten OSU of late when the talent scales approach even—there has been no local program fit to challenge Ohio State recruiting star to recruiting star, and he's rolled up conference championships and victories only to be smacked down when the big guys from elsewhere roll into town. Tressel is fixed in his ways and has not been challenged sufficiently to re-evaluate his philosophy. At this point it's hard to imagine him doing so simply because of inertia. And the big games continue to roll by without victories. Tressel, at this point, is not a version of Carr waiting to happen. He's Bo Schembechler.
POSTSCRIPT: The exercise of comparing Rodriguez to Tressel, Carr, and Schembechler is largely left to the reader, but I'll refer you to an earlier piece that has been reinforced by the first three weeks of this season and the Smart Football article above. Money (ha) graf:
Rodriguez comes from a wholly different background than Carr, coming up through the ranks at NAIA schools and Tulane and Clemson and West Virginia. Until Pat White showed up he never had a significant talent advantage against the vast majority of opponents. He never, ever had the luxury of lying back and thinking to himself "if we out-execute the opponent we will win," and it shows. He invented a whole new offense and used it to exploit inefficiencies in recruiting. To seal the Sugar Bowl against Georgia he called a fake punt, exploiting inefficiencies in fourth-down playcalling. For the past seven years he has played Moneyball at West Virginia.
If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution. This week, I made it to two games, and they're listed at the top.
MI RB Austin White
Last week: Stevenson defeats South Lyon 37-0. Austin ran 8 times for 173 yards (21.63 YPC) and 3 touchdowns while only playing in the first half. I was there, so enjoy some rockin' HD video. Paul FAILs at titling, so you'll just have to trust me that this game took place at Stevenson, not Pioneer.
Ace from The Wolverine Blog also has video of the great performance.
This week: Stevenson (2-2) v. Northville.
|Austin White 2009|
|South Lyon||W 37-0||8||173||3||21.63||0||0||0||-|
MI WR Ricardo Miller
Last week: Pioneer pounds Saginaw Arthur Hill 58-20. Ricardo had a quiet night, catching only 1 ball for 20 yards. He was open a number of other times, but was not thrown to. He also had a decent night blocking. Again, I was there, which means you get video highlights:
This week: Pioneer (4-0) @ Temperance Bedford.
|Ricardo Miller 2009|
|Arthur Hill||W 58-20||1||20||0||20.00|
MI QB Devin Gardner
Last week: Inkster defeats Lakewood (OH) St. Edward 14-7. No real word on stats, except that Gardner had a run for a successful 2-point conversion.
This week: Inkster (1-2) @ Highland Park.
Etc.: The WCBN blog interviews Gardner.
|Devin Gardner 2009|
|East Kentwood||L 33-52||19||30||389||3||1||63.33||12.97||10||102||2||10.20|
|St. Edward||W 14-7|
SC QB Conelius Jones
Last week: Spartanburg falls to Greenwood 9-21. Jones coughed up two fumbles, but ran 7 yards for the Vikings' lone score. Spartanburg outgained Greenwood 336-120 in the loss.
This week: Spartanburg (2-3) has a bye week.
|Conelius Jones 2009|
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
Stephen Hopkins cut the deficit in half with a 7-yard run, and the Marcus defense forced a Katy three-and-out on the next drive.
This week: Marcus (2-1) v. Lee.
TX RB Tony Drake
Last week: Skyline beats Plano East 45-19. Drake ran 15 times for 167 yards and a touchdown.
This week: Skyline (3-0) @ Lake Highlands.
|Tony Drake 2009|
|Plano East||W 45-19||15||167||1||11.13||0||0||0||-|
LA Slot WR Drew Dileo
Last week: Parkview Baptist rocks Church Point 54-0.
Dileo also scored on a 38-yard punt return.
Michigan commitment Drew Dileo caught two of those passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.
This week: Parkview Baptist (3-0) v. Port Allen.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
Last week: Canton South falls to Louisville 14-17.
South made plays first. Bowles, in South’s second possession, found Jerald Robinson over the middle and the 6-2 speedster did the rest.
Robinson broke two tackles and went 64 yards for a 7-0 lead. Robinson added a brilliant 26-yard, one-handed grab the next possession...
Robinson (#4) photo by Julie Vennitti for the Canton Repository.
This week: Canton South (1-3) @ Minerva.
MI WR Jeremy Jackson
Last week: Huron is beaten by Monroe 7-14.
Jeremy Jackson caught seven passes for 103 yards, but penalties and turnovers kept halting drives.
This week: Huron (1-3) v. Dearborn.
OH WR DJ Williamson
Last week: Harding loses to Cardinal Mooney 6-31.
This week: Harding (2-1-1) v. Euclid.
OH OL Christian Pace
Last week: Avon Lake drops one to Olmstead Falls, 14-20.
This week: Avon Lake (1-3) v. North Olmstead.
OH DT Terry Talbott
Last week: Wayne beats Trotwood-Madison 21-19.
This week: Wayne (3-1) v. Troy.
PA DE Ken Wilkins
Last week: Trinity is beaten by Jefferson 7-34.
This week: Trinity (0-3) v. Elizabeth.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
Last week: Hampton falls to Shaler Area 7-28.
This week: Hampton (1-2) @ Pine-Richland.
OH LB Antonio Kinard
Last week: Liberty beats Struthers 13-7.
This week: Liberty (3-1) @ Salem.
FL S Marvin Robinson
Last week: Lake Region falls to Sebring 21-29. Marvin starred for the Thunder on both offense and defense:
Led by linebacker Luke Lehning, tackle Matt Wells and safety Marvin Robinson, the Thunder defense took nearly everything out of Sebring's offense except Clarke, holding the Blue Streaks to just 20 rushing yards on their first 20 carries...
On the first play from scrimmage after Clark's 40-yard TD, Robinson burst through the Sebring secondary, took a pass from Carr in full stride and sprinted to a 64-yard touchdown.
This week: Lake Region (0-3) @ Haines City.
OH CB Courtney Avery
Last week: Lexington falls to Orrville 21-41. Avery injured his ankle in the game, and only got limited time.
Not having Jefferson (6 carries, 69 yards; 2 receptions) and Avery (13-of-22 passing, 133 yards) was a factor.
It remains to be seen whether the injury will keep Avery out of any games in the near future.
This week: Lexington (2-1) @ Lago Vista.
OH CB Terrence Talbott
Last week: Wayne beats Trotwood-Madison 21-19. I believe Terrence is still out with a leg injury.
This week: Wayne (3-1) v. Troy.
2011 OH CB Greg Brown
Last week: Ross defeats Cleveland Benedictine 28-21 in overtime.
Brown added six receptions for 99 yards.
He also scored a 6-yard touchdown in the game.
This week: Ross (3-1) v. Bloomfield Hills (MI) Lahser.
Anyways, you've mentioned several times that you have season tix—do you also attend all road games? I suppose Sparty is probably a given, but have you traveled to, say, Kinnick or Camp Randall? My goal is to visit all the B10 stadiums (been to 5 so far - MSU, PU, PSU, NW & UM obvs), and I was wondering if you had a favorite road venue or notable road game that sticks out to you (07 MSU for me). This season I'll be going to State for the 2nd time as well as Illinois Memorial for the first time.
Once again, many thanks for the excellence of the blog.
P.S. Autodesk sucks. I hate them.
P.P.S. M-Den is full of win.
I don't go to all the road games but I usually hit 1-3 per year depending on how the team is doing and where the road games are. I've been to Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, and Northwestern, with a first trip to Iowa on the docket this year. (I'm also going to Madison, but in February for an outdoor hockey game.) To your questions: Northwestern is my favorite road venue, if only because it's a road venue in little but name and it's situated next to Lake Michigan and there's always some place to crash because if you went to Michigan and don't know anyone who lives in Chicago you probably lived in Baits all four years and never left your room. Also no one attempts to throttle you. I'm annoyed when NU isn't on the schedule.
Favorite game: also '07 MSU for multiple reasons. There was, of course, the lead up to the game with Dantonio and "moment of silence" and "we won two games today" and Mike Hart etc etc etc. I ended up in the Michigan student section, which was a jolt after a few years away from that scene in one of the real blue-hair sections of Michigan Stadium. And two minutes before the opening kickoff an idiot state fan chewing on an unlit cigar accused me of sitting in his seat. I wasn't, but the State fan insisted to the point where he got the ushers, who were all prepared to do some bootin' until they saw I was actually in my seat. It turned out that the guy had the seat next to mine. He eventually swapped with some Michigan students who were three rows below us. It was weird.
Anyway, all that meant I was pretty fired up. And then the way the game turned, with Michigan jumping out to a significant halftime lead and State coming back to lead by 3 and then 10 and then someone whacking Chad Henne's shoddy Southeast Asian motherboard in just the right spot, followed by robot Henne enacting a mini version of Braylonfest… well, it was extremely satisfying afterwards.
PS: Hey, Autodesk provided yrs truly with the nest egg via which the blog's first couple of years as a job—in the same way Walmart greeter is a job—were tolerable. Also I still have some stock of theirs. So go Autodesk.
PPS: Yes, now that you mention it, the M-Den is full of win. Also when you do not mention it.
I noticed during the game and again in your UFR that Will Campbell got zero playing time against ND. This was especially evident in the 2nd half when it seemed that the dline was rotating new guys in on every play with WC not one of them. I also recall he only played in scrub time against Western. With a dline sorely lacking depth, is Campbell in the doghouse? Is he not as good as we thought? Or is this more a case of a freshman just being behind veterans on the depth chart. For a dline sorely lacking depth, it seems hard to believe a highly recruited player cant crack this rotation, even as a freshman.
Thanks, and Go Blue!
(This email was sent before the EMU game, but remains relevant now because Campbell saw a couple of goal line plays and little else.) Dude: I don't know. I'm seriously bothered by the prevalence of walk-ons in the two-deep and the lack of mega-recruits. Justin Turner didn't see the field at all against Eastern—even Teric Jones did—and now looks like a certain redshirt. Demens, Fitzgerald, and Smith are all apparently behind walk-on Kevin Leach at linebacker. And erstwhile spring starter Vlad Emilien is behind Kovacs and possibly Van Slyke at safety.
At least Campbell has an excuse that's a bit better than those guys: Renaldo Sagesse is about the only legitimate depth player on the entire defense and has turned in a fair number of plays in limited time spelling Mike Martin. He's getting about the same amount of time you'd expect a third-string freshman to get, no matter how hyped.
I'd like to see Michigan try running Martin and Sagesse out there at the same time, like everyone else; if that happens with some consistency against big beef machine teams then Campbell will see more extensive time.
During Rich Rod's first summer, we were looking forward to bringing in Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver at QB. Both guys were relatively unpolished but with high upside. Not the type of guys that you would be comfortable with to start as freshmen to say the least. Do you think that RR anticipated a rocky first year and the need to win early in year two, and possibly directed Michigan's recruiting more toward QBs able to come in and play right away? Would you even go so far to say that Michigan may have cooled on Newsome and Beaver at the chance they land Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. Regardless, as a trade, we got the better end of the deal.
I have no idea what happened with Michigan's quarterback recruiting but have heard from a couple reliable sources that Kevin Newsome's commitment was always as solid as paper tissue and that was one reason Michigan continued to pursue Tate Forcier heavily despite having two guys nominally in the fold. (The other reason: duh.) I mentioned this at the time and will restate it now: while Kevin Newsome seemed to have excellent upside he was not a great fit for what Michigan needed this year. They needed Tate Forcier, a guy who'd been relentlessly drilled to be a quarterback from the womb and would be polished (and foolhardy) enough to step into the starting lineup fresh out of high school. Newsome, who's looked inept so far in spring and limited garbage time, was not that guy. Was that motivation to get rid of Newsome? Probably not. I think Michigan would have taken three quarterbacks last year if they could have latched onto that many.
Beaver I don't know about. He was a well-regarded recruit who supposedly picked up an offer from Texas to play wide receiver, so you'd think Michigan would try to hold onto him even if they were gaga about Denard Robinson (which, again: duh), too. I don't think either decommit was a Jordan Barnes sort.
I have a question re: the defensive alignments. In the Notre Dame Defensive UFR, you commented a couple of times on the fact that Michigan's pre-snap alignments made no sense. Who's responsibility is it for the way the defense aligns? The coaches obviously put in the personnel package as far as a 4-3-4, 4-2-5, but they cannot know until the offense lines up what type of look they are going to get. Does a player (I'm assuming it'd be Obi since he's the MLB and they are traditionally the "quarterback of the offense") set up the defense or do the players look to the sideline for direction from their coaches? Thanks in advance.
The only presnap alignments that I found bizarre were the ones in which Obi Ezeh aligned at safety depth a few times on obvious passing downs. That was indeed strange. The only thing I can figure is that it was a version of the Tampa two defense that's popular in the NFL. Tampa two allows you to bracket both outside receivers without giving up the deep middle—an excellent idea against Notre Dame's terrors on the outside, but maybe not so much when ND also has a great pass-receiving tight end. And when Michigan did line up in their weird Ezeh-as-safety formation, ND hit Kyle Rudolph on a simple slant that went for big yardage.
I've seen Michigan roll out the same formation once so far against EMU, so it might be something we see occasionally down the road. I've yet to determine what the point of it is.
No Q Just A
On to some emails that are more helpful than anything else.
Just wanted to add some more evidence re: your post on the noise level at the new stadium. Yes, it is absolutely, positively louder. Carl Grapentine, long-time voice of the MMB and now the PA guy, too, wrote me this after the game this weekend:
It was as loud as I've ever heard it at Michigan Stadium. Those two new massive structures on either side of the field are like giant resonators.
Keep in mind this is Carl's 40th year doing games from the press box; that's a pretty significant body of work from which to make that statement. Didn't want to post this in the public comments, though.
I have the same beef with the MMB as you; I was in section 13 at the WMU game and we could hardly hear the band. Thought it might just be the placement, but think your analysis is right. Needs more horns, less winds.
BTW, love the blog; it's part of my daily must-reads.
UM class of '87
Johnathan Chapman-Rienstra (JCR)
FWIW. More fuel for the luxury box fire.
No A Just Q
Questions I can't answer:
I was at the Eastern/UM game Saturday and noticed the student section doing a chant where they extend their arms at the opposing team and wiggle their fingers... sort of like they're "jinxing" them. It sounds like the students are saying, "boo" or "ooh." At first I thought it was the "key play" chant where they shake their keys, but there were no keys in their hands. Can you enlighten me?
Um… I have no idea what this email refers to. Any help?
I'm pretty sure your tickets aren't near mine. I sit in section 19, row 76.
As long as I've been in these seats, and my old seats in section 17, fifteen years or so, there's been an old guy with a knit cap that sits near the very front of (I think) section 18. After every Michigan TD, he would go down to the front row, stand up, face the crowd, and get the crowd involved in a cheer where he (and the fans) would spell out M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N with his arms.
After sitting through every minute (!) of every home game, AND the ND game at ND last year, I did not make it to the ND game this year. (I know, I know...) However, I was at Western and Eastern. And Old Michigan Spelling Guy (i don't know anything better to call him) wasn't at EITHER game. My wife and I are very concerned.
The guy I call "Superfan" (wears the cape, helmet pattern do-rag, glasses, plays cowbell, gets on TV at a lot of away games) also sits near the front and has taken over the M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N spelling. I love "Superfan" and his mad-crazy cowbell skills, but it isn't the same for the M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N. And beyond just football games, I really do care about Old Michigan Spelling Guy.
Do you know, or can you ask your vast readership if anyone knows, the fate of Old Michigan Spelling Guy? Hopefully, he's just evangelizing in another part of the stadium.
I am nowhere near this guy but I have seen him from across the stadium and envied those sections for being near a guy doing the Michigan locomotive cheer because some old guy demanded they do it. Anyone have an answer for this emailer?
|Last week's ballot|
- USC obviously falls with their loss to Washington. Despite the head-to-head, I'm considering moving them below Ohio State, since the Buckeyes' loss wasn't nearly as embarrassing.
- Florida didn't impress against Tennessee, allowing them to be jumped by Texas. Should the Horns' uncomfortably close win against Texas Tech prevent them from leaping the Gators?
- Miami of Florida's move is predicated on two solid wins now on the season, both over teams that are ranked.
- I think it's fair at this point to move Boise past Mississippi, especially since Oregon may not be the lost cause they looked to be a couple weeks ago. The Rebels (and other teams with strong schedules) will probably move past the Broncos in coming weeks no matter what.
- I had more of an opportunity to dissect the results and take them into account this week. Nonetheless, I'm sure I've still made mistakes. Let me know in the comments and I'll try to fix them.
David Molk had surgery this morning on his broken foot, and will be out 4-6 weeks. David Moosman will be back this week, and replace Molk at center. Rocko Khoury and Tim McAvoy will be healthy now as well. In other injury news, Tate's going to be fine, he just bruised a rib, which prevented him from moving around quite as well in the Eastern game. A rib shot is a good way to teach a quarterback that he needs to get rid of the ball quicker.
Mike Williams and Brandon Minor are both day-to-day. Minor is a guy who will play through a lot of pain, so the coaches have to be careful with how much they let him practice.
Offensive Line. Mark Huyge and Patrick Omameh can both play interior and exterior positions on the offensive line. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield have both been running with the 2s recently, and might be able to earn a little bit of playing time. There are a few more freshmen that haven't played yet, but probably will before the season is over. Justin Turner is among them. According to Donovan Warren, "He just needs to be a little more comfortable, and have the coaches trust him." Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne, who are backups at the SAM linebacker position, will probably see a bit more time as well.
Walk-ons. The walk-on program is important to Michigan Football as a whole, and it's going well so far. Kevin Leach, Jordan Kovacs, Jon Conover and fullback John McColgan are examples of its success. Rodriguez isn't going to publicly announce which walkons have received scholarships, because that's a downer for some of the guys who may have been close but didn't quite get one.
TOP. One of Rodriguez's big defensive goals is to force the opposition into at least 6 three-and-outs per game. That helps in time of possession, and getting them some rest. He doesn't worry about time of possession that much, because it isn't a meaningful stat - especially if you have a quick-strike offense. [Editor's note: woooooooo!] The defense hasn't been able to get a ton of pressure on quarterbacks yet, because opposition has gone to max-protect set and a quick-hit passing game.
Indiana. Indiana is a surprisingly experienced team defensively. They have two of the best defensive ends in the conference, which could cause some trouble. As far as the conference at large, Rodriguez doesn't know how his team stacks up, because they haven't played anyone from the league yet. He's worried about taking care of Indiana for now. As Ryan Van Bergen said, the 3-0 start means nothing towards winning the conference.
Troy Woolfolk gave Carlos Brown a little bit of grief for only having the 3rd-longest run in Michigan history. Brown: "He was like, 'look, my dad's got number 1." I was like 'We've got 9 more games to go.'"
Warren. All three defensive cordinators so far in Donovan Warren's career have been excellent coaches, who are very similar and passionate about the game. They have their differences, but all are good. Warren briefly talked to Coach English on the field after the game on Saturday.
Donovan doesn't notice if an opposing team is trying to avoid him. He just goes out there and plays his assignment, and gets to the ball. He likes that the offense can score, but wishes they'd do it a little slower so he could rest. The team's conditioning has helped him be ready to get right back out there, however.
As far as halftime defensive adjustments go, both Donovan Warren and Ryan Van Bergen pointed out that opponents have given some looks in the first half of games that they hadn't yet shown on film. The coaches are able to make the necessary changes at halftime to slow the opposition down.
Grady (Small). Kelvin Grady talked a long time about the transition from basketball to football, and the decision-making process that resulted in ending up on the football team. He worked in a factory at Amway over the summer, and had a lot of time to think about what he was planning to do. His dad provided him guidance, "He's the father that I want to be someday."
Grady said it would be a great experience to play in an NCAA tournament and a bowl game (knock on wood) within a year of each other.
[Editor's Note: Mad Men spoilers below. Abort now if you care even a little bit. UPDATE: you'll be safe if you skip the blockquote.]
9/21/2009 – Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 17 – 3-0
I'd never heard 100,000 people moan before. I've heard gasps and anger and worry and fretting and relief. I've heard an involuntary yelp of hope after Drew Stanton went down in the game that would be Braylonfest. I've heard way more than my share of discontent grumbling. I know all the tiny permutations of discontent grumbling, actually. I could write a PhD thesis on discontent stadium grumbles.
I had not heard a unified, angst-ridden moan until Saturday when Tate Forcier got blasted as he threw the ball away and rolled around on the Michigan Stadium turf like he'd just been stabbed. I sort of felt like I'd been stabbed, too, and I went "uhhhnnn." So did everyone else as we simultaneously contemplated the Sheridans of yesteryear. But before we could open up the flak jacket and find the secret, Forcier popped up and Rodriguez stuck him in to hand off a few times, thus saving everyone an extra hour or two of painful contemplation. The most interesting thing to happen in the Eastern Michigan game expired without impact.
It's quite a comedown to go from the Notre Dame game to this game in just about every way. Emotional involvement and excitement are obvious to anyone who saw the two teams listed as opponents. Hidden to folk who just saw the final score, but not the halftime one, was a reminder that the program remains, yes, under construction and that we should all be enjoying the competence instead of spinning out hopes for New Year's Day.
The main problem: Eastern Michigan ran the ball decently, and it wasn't on one long run on which Michigan can blame a random safety. EMU's long for the day was a 24-yarder by the quarterback and the dual-headed tailback pounded out 113 yards on 32 carries. That's 3.5 a pop and would have been totally acceptable if Michigan had flipped their first and second halves. (In the second half, Eastern put up 98 yards and no points on seven drives.) They didn't. Michigan gave up an 11-play, 79 yard touchdown drive and a 6-play, 36 yard touchdown drive, and did it mostly by running right at the side of the line not containing Mike Martin and Brandon Graham. For the day, Michigan was slightly better than Army and evidently terrible Northwestern defensively, which bodes unwell for the sky-high hopes you know you're secretly harboring. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
The evidence was clear enough on a selected few defensive snaps in the second half. With Mike Williams nursing a slight ankle injury on the sideline and Brandon Graham taking a breather, Michigan's purported first-team defense had three walk-ons playing. I can't remember a single non-fullback walk-on other than Nick Sheridan in recent Michigan history who saw playing time as extensive as three separate players have already gotten this year, and everyone remembers how Sheridan's experiment went. If Michigan is going to win games in the Big Ten, they're going to have to score a lot of points. They'll probably do this, but at the end of the year the stats are going to look more like one of those good-ish Northwestern teams from the late 90s, all shiny offensive stats and horrible defensive ones and entertaining games that give you no impression the team in question can hang with college football's elite.
And all of this is fine, of course. If Michigan's offense follows through on its first three weeks and the defense holds it together well enough to suggest competence in 2010, Michigan fans will and should be delighted. I'm not exactly breaking new ground by suggesting this team is not at the talent level you'd normally expect a Michigan team to be at, and I'm probably not surprising anyone by cautioning for patience. But I feel it has to be said after Orson Swindle and I had a conversation like this:
(11:23:10 PM) Orson: I cannot emphasize how improved by a random act of violent gore an episode of Mad Men was.. Paul being splattered with blood should happen every episode
(11:24:58 PM) Orson: "I live in Montclair." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD
(11:25:28 PM) Orson: "I went to Princeton." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD
(11:25:53 PM) Brian I prefer Harry, actually. "I cheated on my wife and actually regret it." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD. I also loved how the English guys immediately treated him as a horse that had to be put down.
(11:26:52 PM) Orson: "Oh no, he's done." "Quite right. No foot. Dead to us."
(11:27:04 PM) Brian "never play golf again"!!!
[Several more minutes of Mad Men discussion segues into this]
Orson: BTW, let me congratulate you on having a player sucker punch an ND player in the gut I'm serious. That is nothing but a great sign for your program.
(11:39:46 PM) Brian: It was the chin, actually. And we even got a totally unprecedented "you're going to be Miami" suspension out of it.
(11:40:57 PM) Orson: You are starting to get an idea of the vast power of the dark side.
[This continues for a while until:]
Orson: For once, I enjoy watching Michigan thanks to them. I think you're going to beat the f-- out of Ohio State this year.
You know me: I immediately attempted to convince Orson—who is awesome but prone to wild prognostications based on things the thinks are going to be fun—otherwise. It didn't take. "Whoah," I said, and then overreacted as you can see above.
Right now, Michigan is an Easter egg dropped out of a window during an engineering competition. It's small. It's moving extremely fast. It's brightly colored and looks like it contains a good time. It is heading inexorably for something large and uncompromising, and all it has to protect it is a rickety structure slapped together last night out of Busch Light cans, foam, and an unidentifiable oozing substance someone found next to the refrigerator. It's probably not going to make it, but for the moment it's time to enjoy the wind.
- Wooo complete Michigan wave cycle!
- Man, I do not like the fact that Michigan has scholarship players who aren't true freshmen at DE and LB but chooses to play walk-ons over them. No offense to those guys, but they were walk-ons for a reason. Unless they are spectacularly advanced thinkers at the game, their ceiling is low and Michigan's defense has little upside as the season goes along. Brandon Smith can be excused since he was a safety until fall camp, but how do Kenny Demens and JB Fitzgerald not see the field in front of Leach? That's a bad sign for both their futures. Ditto Adam Patterson, who looks set to go down as one of the all-time pure talent recruiting busts. Even a huge disappointment like Kevin Grady has gotten regular playing time every year.
- I do think I have an idea why Fitzgerald wasnt seeing the field: when he did he did not play well. I'll have to check the tape but IIRC one of Eastern's TDs was on his head. I really, really hope someone emerges from the linebacker morass this year. Right now it's terrifying.
- Losing Molk is bad but it's way less bad than it was last year. Michigan has three or four options to bring into the lineup at RG—sounds like Moosman will slide over to C. Who were Michigan's options last year? Tim McAvoy?
- Man, the backup tailbacks looked good. Remember this run?
Michael Shaw has got to start wearing crazy tight oily jerseys, because he juked that Eastern safety out of his jock and deserved a spectacular touchdown run on this play; he didn't get it because that grab you saw actually held up. Shaw looked like Carlos Brown 2.0 in some ways and the opposite of Carlos Brown in others. The difference: Brown always looks like he's perfectly balanced and then falls over; Shaw always looks like he's about to fall over but stays up.
Meanwhile, Vincent Smith's lone run featured an impressive juke of the backside defensive end and a first down thanks to a heads-up block from Denard Robinson, and Mike Cox got it YGM style on a weaving run on which he displayed his own impressive balance. With Fitzgerald Toussaint, Austin White and Stephen Hopkins on the way, the tailback spot will be just fine next year.
- Meanwhile, how the hell did Carlos Brown end up getting tackled by this?
Great game and all but sometimes the things that cause Carlos Brown to fall over are mystifying.
- Students: it's impolite to start up chants when someone's hurt. "Tate Forcier" was fine, but there was a "Go… Blue" chant at some point when an Eastern guy was down. Poor form.