About a month ago the series of posts about the last decade of Michigan football struck upon the worst 11 plays the program suffered through since everyone started wearing those sunglasses with zeroes in them on New Year's Eve. The commenters were united in their opinion of these posts:
I was with them. But it seemed not only wrong but impossible to evaluate the last decade of Michigan football without enumerating the many offenses we have suffered. The story of the aughts was Roman decline. Skipping straight to Mario Manningham with one second on the clock would have been fiddling in the ruins.
It's about seven AM on the first game week of the 2010 season. Since I am a blogger and was an engineer before that, the last time I was up this early I was 19, in the second and last of the nepotistic internships I spent the first couple summers in college fiddling away at. My mom did the driving, so she set the schedule, and I spent a couple summers groggily pawing for an alarm clock with an "6" in the hour column and sulkily resenting how useless caffeine was for me. Mornings make me stabby.
But I'm up and the feed reader's here. This is what it provides around 7 AM on August 30th, 2010:
- Yost from the M-Zone unearths himself after two years of retirement to photoshop Jim Delany, David Brandon, Gene Smith, and Gordon Gee onto the horsemen of the apocalypse.
- UM Tailgate commemorates ten(!) years on the internet by reminiscing about old times when there were bowl streaks existed and no one wondered if the coach would get fired.
- Maize and Go Blue emerges from long hibernation itself to survey the state of the program, addressing the "constant ridicule" he is "bombarded with."
- In the aftermath of last night's Mad Men, GIF PARTY deploys this, in which we are Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell is the universe:
- The AP has another story on the one thing that seems to generate good press about the program: a Christmas Eve car crash in 2007 that killed people near and dear to Elliott Mealer, tore his rotator cuff, and paralyzed his brother.
It's been a ragged, weary summer, one that followed a frustrating collapse and a false but panicky NCAA apocalypse and the crater of '08 and I feel like I've been talking about how tired and frustrated and burned out I am for years now—the first sentence of last year's Story was "I'm tired"—which only makes the conversing about how it's tough out there for a Michigan fan more tedious and wearying and makes you want to go idle your time away on anything other than, say, the Ohio State UFR, missing for the second consecutive year. What felt like diagnosis and honesty last year now just feels like whining.
A brief survey of themes from last year's game columns:
I've got no real analysis of either team other than they're both worse than I thought. I'm burning out after two years of almost unrelenting misery, and looking forward to football season being over for the third straight year. I mean, when Michigan was down to Purdue in the second half, some fan ten or twenty rows behind me kept shouting "they've got no heart" over and over again as the guy in the row in front of me called for Rodriguez's firing. Having a conversation about Michigan football right now is trying to remember that episode of GI Joe where Destro finds a secret ninja manual in a volcano*** that allows him to kill people with precisely-applied touches: if you can just remember where the red dots are you can spare everyone a lot of pain.
EMO WHINING WITH MORRISSEY TITLE
A serious thematic analysis of the Wisconsin game is pointless. Michigan's defense is exactly as horrifying as it's been all year. Everyone wants to fight each other in the liveblog. When the MGoPosse assembled to record this week's podcast, Paul said "at least we didn't muff a punt" and I responded "they didn't punt." (It turns out they did punt once in the first half, and Junior Hemingway misjudged a short one, almost fumbling it.)
EMO WHINING CONSISTING ENTIRELY OF MORRISSEY LYRICS
Is a time
Which I must
Put out of my mind
Oh, one fine day
Let it be soon
She won't be rich or beautiful
But she'll be walking your streets
In the clothes that she went out
And chose for herself
THE GENESIS OF THE OVERUSE OF "DONG" ON THE MESSAGE BOARD WITH MORRISSEY REFERENCE… AND WHINING!
To paint with broad strokes, I probably don't have much in common with 6'3", 290 pound black guys from Miami who think it's a good idea to play for Ron Zook. Our worlds are unlikely to intersect at a Lil Wayne show or the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Cory Liuget has probably never thought to himself "that reminds me of a Morrissey song." Of late, I think that all the time.
But at around 6:30 on October 31st, 2009, we both felt like we had been punched in the dong. In Liuget's case, this is because he had been punched in the dong:
In my case, and probably in yours, you had not actually been punched in the dong unless you had decided at some point that going outside with your buddies and punching each other in the dongs was preferable to watching the metaphorical dong-punching that started when Roy Roundtree's knee hit the ground at the one yard line and has not, to my knowledge, stopped. If you managed to miss this play and its aftermath because you were outside getting punched in the dong, congratulations: this is the one and only time when your decision-making skills will ever be regarded above average. Punch yourself in the dong in celebration.
It is evidently my opinion that Morrissey sums up Michigan football of late better than anything else, and, well, yeah. Fey, petulant, wildly schizophrenic, once part of something great and now stuck in a self-loathing rut, extremely likely to fumble anything it's carrying if hit by a 250-pound linebacker, Michigan is Southpaw Grammar/Malajusted-era Morrissey to atomic precision.
But then there are the Mealers, who don't so much put the above rending of fishnet shirts in perspective as obliterate the petty concerns of everyone who pays into the fandom industry just so their boring lives can sometimes feel titanic. Elliott's mother from that AP article above:
"I questioned why I missed my opportunity to go to heaven," Shelly Mealer said Sunday night in a telephone interview as her voice cracked with emotion. "Still, I have my moments wondering if I can do this. But I know I'm here to take care of the boys because my husband always was the one who led us in his positive and optimistic way."
Elliott Mealer still feels a sense of regret and guilt for offering his girlfriend the outside seat in the back the car because she was feeling ill.
"It could've been prevented, I guess, and it could've been me," he said softly. "It's kind of a difficult thing to think about."
Elliott's brother Brock was told he'd never walk again and the "best he could hope for" was for the pain to go away in time.
Right now it's easy to be the world's most cynical man ("I don't always drink beer, but when I do I make sure to remind everyone it's made from rice and by Belgians"). This site's already thrown up Henri the Otter of Ennui and packed it in with the site slogan, until recently "nevermind, PANIC aaaaeeieieie," and every hot seat list has Rich Rodriguez foremost on the chopping block. The secondary preview begins with "what's the point of anything?" Penn State fans with short memories are making each other's dangly bits tingle by speculating about whether Michigan will ever come back. I just told that New York audience that I don't think Rodriguez is going to make it.
Brock Mealer's going to walk, though. On Saturday he's going to get up and walk under the MGoBlue banner in an act of defiance aimed at no one in particular. From the outside, what happened to Elliott Mealer and his family looks like an event that would physically and emotionally cripple anyone it happened to. It's orders of magnitude beyond any of the things I—we—have felt sorry for ourselves about over the past couple years. Something in them was resilient, though, and with the aid of this staff they'll reclaim a small part something they thought lost on Saturday.
They can—probably already have—transfer this to the people around them. As I said about Manningham :01:
In the end, the game served as a reminder that bitterness is no fun, faith is rewarded, the kids on the field are more resilient than we are, and sometimes they can let us borrow some of that.
For both us and the team it's time to put away the eyeliner and walk.
6'4", 230 lbs.
Red Bank, New Jersey
Michigan obviously wants a tight end in this class as they've gone after, and missed on, a few so far. Tabb has already taken an unofficial to Michigan, and is contemplating taking an official this weekend for the UConn game.
I'm going to try to make it up there, because that would be perfect timing for a first official. I really like Michigan, so we'll see.
I should know if that's 100% by the end of the day today (Monday) if he's coming. The reason this is such a big deal is because Jack wants to make his final decision in the next few weeks. I would go as far to guess that it may be North Carolina and Michigan at the top. With all the NCAA investigations looming at UNC, this visit could swing things in favor of Michigan. That would be a decently big pickup; Tabb has offers from two dozen BCS schools.
6'3", 218 lbs.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Also in the North Carolina NCAA scandal benefiting Michigan, we move to Marquise Williams. Though he's a UNC commit, Williams had always stated that he would take his official visit to Michigan and possibly some other schools. That is still the case, and the NCAA snooping around Chapel Hill aren't helping any:
I don't want anyone to think I'm not committed to North Carolina still, because I am. I'm just still looking at everybody, and seeing what's out there. You never know what could happen. I'm coming up to Michigan on October 9th, that's the Michigan State game, that's when I'll be there.
He wanted to make sure that everyone knew he was still committed, but he wasn't happy about the looming investigation. He was in contact with Coach Gibson a few days ago, and said he still plans on keeping in touch with him. Also, in his first game he threw for 341 yards and 7 TD's while his team won 61-0. It was against a bad team, but still noteworthy.
6'1", 175 lbs.
The latest on Daren is that he sent his first game film to three of the Michigan coaches, and they loved it. He had 3 pass break ups, a field goal block, and an INT for a TD. He says (I know he's said this before) that the Michigan offer is now his.
He's coming up for the UConn game on an official visit, as well. I don't know if the offer is officially official, but we should know by Friday if it is. If so, a commit is expected in short order.
If you didn't originally see this thread, then I'll bring you up to speed. Demetrius Hart (as of now) is not coming to the UConn game. There was some paperwork missing from his clearinghouse info, and he can't take an official visit until it's processed. [UPDATE: Hart's visit is seemingly on as of now.]
I spoke with Demetrius' mother today to see what the mix up was. She said that as of today they won't be coming to the U Conn game, and that Demetrius was going to take an unofficial visit to Auburn. She was told that the paperwork that needed to go through would take two weeks to get processed. It seems like they're trying to expedite the process, or figure out what needs to get done, but she wasn't optimistic that they would be able to.
I'm supposed to get a hold of her tomorrow to find out if they were able to work around it, and still make it up this weekend. Like I said, she didn't sound optimistic. We'll see what happens. 2012 QB Nick Patti, Demetrius' teammate, will still be coming. I'm not going to comment on if any of their other teammates will be there, because there's a possibility that teammate doesn't want it reported either way. I have a headache from this already. We'll see what happens, it looks like it could go either way.
- The extensive UConn visitor list is here. Anthony Zettel recently decided that he'll be at the game. He's not 100% sure, but leaning towards going.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, WR Jerald Robinson, WR DJ Williamson, WR Jeremy Jackson, WR Ricardo Miller, and RB Stephen Hopkins.
|Detroit, MI - 6'4" 195|
|Scout||5*, #5 QB, #43 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #1 DTQB, #132 overall|
|ESPN||4*, 80, #5 QB, #128 overall|
|Others||#9 overall to Lemming|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, LSU, Ohio State(-ish), Florida|
|YMRMFSPA||Going there: Vince Young|
|Previously On MGoBlog||One metric buttload. Elite 11 wrap. Commitment post. TomVH interview. Tim interview. Friday Night Lights caught him against Southgate, Highland Park, and Pioneer.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Descended from the heavens on a cloud 17 years ago.|
There are a million billion different to choose from but the most relevant is probably the one you've already seen:
And here's a rush mix for fun:
This might be totally unnecessary. Devin Gardner already has eight pages of posts in the MGoArchives and has been fawned over just about weekly since his March commitment to Michigan. You've seen him in the spring game. You've heard quotes about him from everyone from Tom Lemming to Rich Rodriguez, and if you've been on the site the past year you've seen ridiculous HD clips of him going up against half the schedule. The best this post can do is remind you. But by God, the tabs are open so here it is.
This is what you need to know:
Putting a football in Devin Gardner's hands is like handing a master artist a paint brush and an empty canvas. Within seconds, an array of possibilities present themselves as creativity begins to give way to a breathtaking masterpiece.
Seriously. This is going to happen. At some point in his career Devin Gardner is going to become Football Michelangelo, and Michigan fans will leave the stadium confused because they've obviously been raptured up and Heaven looks just like Ann Arbor. (Attention postcard companies: copyrighted, bitches!) I am not kidding you.
"He had a great junior year and has simply built upon that," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "He is considered one of the top handful of quarterbacks in the country and is firmly entrenched as a five-star prospect. As far as upside goes, I don't see many quarterbacks that have his potential."
Seriously, he's pretty much Vince Young…
On tape the Michigan native resembles Vince Young, starting from the No. 10 jersey he wears and extending all the way through his three-quarters release and sneaky, elusive, long-striding ability to make big plays with the ball in his hands.
…except better! Seriously:
Rivals.com national analyst Barry Every ranked Gardner as the top overall quarterback at the camp based on long-term potential and the ability to win football games.
“I don’t think there’s any question, after having seen him for four days, how hard he competes and how hard he wants to be the best,” Every said.
Every and Biggins agreed Gardner compares favorably at the same stage of his career to players like Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Juice Williams and Dennis Dixon, all Elite 11 alumni.
Holy crap! Whoever put this article together decided to put Vince Young, Tim Tebow, and Dennis Dixon in the same sentence with Juice Williams! Also that stuff about Gardner "comparing favorably" to three spine-tinglingly awesome quarterbacks! And Juice Williams! He's also an "advanced version" of Terrelle Pryor!
Obviously this is true and the rankings above, which are extremely friendly but not exactly better than Vince Young (#1 overall), Terrelle Pryor (#1 overall), and Tim Tebow (top 5) are lies. But what gives? The theory promulgated by this site goes as follows:
- Junior Devin Gardner is an enormously raw QB prospect in serious need of coaching and development. His throwing motion is the dreaded "shot put." When ESPN wrote him up as a promising Elite 11 ball boy, even Gardner acknowledged it:
- Over the summer, Gardner hits every camp imaginable to improve his throwing mechanics and general quarterback things. Gardner is wildly coachable and makes great strides, culminating in the Elite 11 camp where Rivals goes ga-ga over him—for a while he was a top 50 prospect and the #1 QB in their rankings—and everyone else slides him up into that five star area. At that camp he wins "best feet" and "best in the classroom". Allen Trieu gets the pithy quote, this evaluating his performance at the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp two summers ago:
- Over the course of Gardner's senior season his mechanical improvement slowly fades as he goes back to what he knows. This is his Flowers for Algernon period. Sites notice this over the course of the year and especially at the Under Armor game and slide him down, saying things like "after watching him in Orlando, I think he needs a redshirt." Rivals sends his ranking back down; Scout sticks to its guns but doesn't move him any higher after he settled in around #40.
After watching him during the week, Gardner will have to learn to be tall in the pocket and take advantage of his height. He says his biggest weakness is his accuracy, which is a direct result of arm placement and how the ball is released. He has a real bad habit of dropping his release point when throwing, as well as sinking his hips and knees when throwing. This happens more when throwing shorter routes, as he tries to guide the ball.
"We all know he's a great athlete and he showed that by doing very well at receiver in addition to quarterback. What has impressed me the most recently, though, is how much he has improved as a passer. His mechanics are like night and day from this time last year and his passes have much more zip. The work he has put in as a passer has paid off."
Thanks to Tim you can see evidence of this slide with your own eyes. The pushing motion was evident in the state championship game. It was also very prominent in the Friday Night Lights-caught Highland Park game (stick around to 3:50 for a sick back juke, though). When he opened the season against Pioneer it was absent.
That's the theory, and it was borne out by Gardner's performance after he enrolled early. In both the spring game and semi-public fall scrimmage he threw ugly interceptions and struggled to deal with pressure. Your author's impression from the game:
Meanwhile, Devin Gardner looked raw as hell, fumbling snaps, scrambling into trouble, and reverting to that ugly shotput motion whenever he was forced to throw on the run. He looked like a freshman, which is okay because he is a freshman. However, the torrent of spring hype that suggested Gardner would probably not redshirt because he would be Michigan's best quarterback by UConn… eh, not so much. Maybe it was just a bad day. Even if it was an off day, Robinson showed enough to relegate Gardner to the bench for the first couple games and hopefully his whole freshman year.
Gardner did show the his deep touch on a third and long seam to Odoms that was laid in perfectly. Odoms dropped it.
In another spring bits post, Gardner was said to "look like a freshman" and be "clearly behind the two sophomores."
On the other hand, when a couple of trusted observers took in the coaches clinic and the scrimmage associated with that they both reported back about the coaching staff's raves:
As for Devin Gardner, raves about his "incredible feel for the game" from QB coach Rod Smith were relayed via both observers. Other spring hype: "huge," "covers ground without seeming to move" like Vince Young and Terrelle Pryor, and… wait for it… "well ahead of both at this stage." Gardner is a "gym rat" who will happily spend all day watching film. However, he's "nowhere near" having a grasp of the offense and his throwing is erratic. When he's good, he can make deep throws with touch unlike either of the other two, but his overall accuracy lags because of the mechanical issues. His delivery isn't consistent yet. This will not be an enormous surprise to anyone who saw the difference between Camp Devin and Degraded Devin over the course of this high school football season.
That's what we've seen at Michigan. We have some idea what his scouting report looks like, but here's a bunch of tantalizing quotes anyway. Rivals:
Has excellent height, thick neck and shoulders and long arms. His lower half is built like a two-guard and his overall body structure looks line an athletic outside linebacker. He is built similar to a young Jason Campbell when at Auburn. … Definitely needs that redshirt year in order to hone his skills and learn the offense. His potential is almost limitless and he could be a major terror for defensive coordinators at the next level. Gardner should be a two- to three-year starter with all-conference and NFL potential.
More from Trieu:
Athletic quarterback with innate ability to feel pressure and elude defenders. Has good change of direction and is very elusive. Has a nice arm and can make all the throws. Needs work mechanically, but shows good touch on his passes, particularly the deep ball. Is a very smart and poised player who is cool under pressure and in the clutch. Shows good command of the offense and understanding of the game.
"(Devin Gardner) really impressed me a lot," [Scout Florida expert Geoff] Vogt added. "He was bigger than I expected him to be. His arm was everything that people made it out to be. He was accurate... He clearly, in my opinion, is the top quarterback on that team... He'd be the No. 1 quarterback in Florida straight out this year and that's really saying something. I think he has a really bright future at Michigan."
Scout also says he's a "superior athlete," something backed up by his performance at that SMSB camp, where he finished third in the 60 meters at that camp behind two 5'10"-ish defensive backs. When he showed at a Scout combine he clocked a 4.57 40—impressive for a guy his size—and won the combine MVP.
And then there's the Graham thing. Gardner has it. After he realized he couldn't get by on sheer athleticism any more, Brandon Graham was indefatigable, constantly working, never depressed, always progressing towards his ultimate destination, and impervious to all the crap Michigan football's been caught up in the last few years. There's a rare resiliency in that kind of work ethic, and it's something Gardner seems to share. The Elite 11 classroom award, the constant drive to make himself better, the early enrollment despite obstacles: these are all indications.
There are also testimonials. JC Shurburtt:
Michigan commit Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) has also surprised many. His hustle, leadership and athleticism add up to a tremendous maturity that will help him compete early for playing time in Ann Arbor.
“One thing we have seen every day, he loves to compete,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a very conscientious guy, he’s a very, very quick learner and he’s shown a few things. He’s got a long way to go as you can imagine any true freshmen would, especially at quarterback, but he’s gotten better each and every day.”
Rivals says he's "very motivated to be the best" and a "high effort guy."
Gardner and his team also gutted out an appearance in the state playoffs by ending the season on a tear. Because their conference disbanded suddenly and they were left in the cold, Inkster played a brutal schedule with eight road games, three of them against Ohio powers. They barely scraped into the playoffs at 5-3 thanks to a road win over Steubenville (OH) and their 68-game home win streak.
Once in the playoffs and then proceeded to blow doors off. Tim took in a 35-7 beating of Southgate; Inkster proceeded to roll to the state championship game, beating their first three opponents by a total of 136-54 with Gardner pouring in eleven touchdowns. Everything fell apart in the state title game, but just getting there was a testament to Devin Gardner's ability.
So now he's here and we'll see how it works out. Every indication is that Gardner will, sooner or later, be the centerpiece of an assault on defenses across the Big Ten. The only thing we don't know is when it starts.
Etc.: "Face in the crowd" on SI. Talks nonsense with baby. Trieu interviews him. Played WR some at the SMSB camp and we should give serious thought to teach him how to run the fade on the goal line. Has an impressive wikipedia page, too. Burned OSU offer.
Why Vince Young? The combination of size, speed, a wonky throwing motion, and the multiple comparisons from gurus tips the balance over to Young, who redshirted despite being the top prospect in the country and didn't come into his own as a passer until he played Michigan in the Rose Bowl—awesome timing!
Guru Reliability: High. Ton of exposure to him. Elite 11 camp, UA game, all that stuff.
General Excitement Level: Towering. Vast. Expansive.
Projection: Should have the luxury of redshirting with Denard's emergence into a viable option. Given Rodriguez's statements on the matter…
There is also freshman Devin Gardner, but Rodriguez said he wouldn't burn Gardner's redshirt if it was for a couple of plays a game.
…you'll probably see him on the bench unless both sophomores struggle. After that it's kind of hard to see him unseating an established junior, but they'll mix him in when given the opportunity; a lot of people have claimed he's going to be the starter as early as 2011, but I think he'll have to wait until he's a redshirt junior, at which point he should be Awesome Devin through and through.
|St. Francis De Sales Schedule 2010|
|8-27||7:30||@ Gahanna Lincoln|
|9-17||7:30||Youngstown Cardinal Mooney|
|9-25||2:00||@ Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's|
|10-15||7:30||@ Bishop Watterson|
|10-22||7:30||Cincinnati La Salle|
St. Francis DeSales
HS projection: Tight End/Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
Last year, St. Francis De Sales went 7-3 in the regular season, making the playoffs. Once they got there, they pounded through 4 rounds to the state championship game. There, they lost to Ray Vinopal's Youngstown Cardinal Mooney team. Rock finished with about 50 tackles and 11.5 sacks despite struggling with illness through most of the season.
This year, DeSales expects to make the playoffs yet again (as they have for the past 17 years), and they have intentions to win it this time. They boast senior starters at many positions, and a number of talented players, including 2012 RB Warren Ball, who many suspect is silently committed to Ohio State. However, they have only 8 starters back off last year's team. Rock will play both defensive end and tight end for the Stallions, and look for an improvement on his numbers from last season with a healthy year.
Rock has switched from No. 88 to 54 so he can play on the line in addition to taking snaps at tight end.Rock has been a standout at defensive end since coming to the school for his sophomore year, and should continue to lead the sack parade this season.
If Rock can stay healthy and put a good product in the field this year, he could see his rankings improve. Prior to last year, he was considered a top prospect in Ohio's class of 2011.
I might be able to catch a game or two of Rock's, though they play in Orchard Lake during a Michigan game, so I'll have to head to Ohio to do it. DeSales streams audio from all their games on their website, and typically has highlight videos as well.
|Plymouth Schedule 2010|
|9-17||7:00||@ Livonia Churchill|
|9-24||7:00||@ Livonia Franklin|
|10-1||7:00||Westland John Glenn|
Plymouth High School
HS position: Tight End/Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/LB
Last year, Beyer's Plymouth team went 6-3, making the MHSAA playoffs. However, they were pasted in the first round by Canton 40-17 to finish 6-4. That was actually a vast improvement over their regular season loss to the Chiefs, in which they went down 49-7. Over the course of the season, Beyer accumulated 9 sacks and 9 tackles for loss. On offense, he had 6 touchdown receptions.
This year, the Wildcats are looking to make it back to the playoffs, and break their three-year streak of earning six wins. Beyer's offensive stats might suffer, as the team is replacing its starting quarterback, and one of the options is a dual threat. Defensively, I'm not sure if Beyer will stay at defensive end or move to linebacker in anticipation of playing that position at the next level. If Beyer has a huge year statistically, he could move up in the rankings, but he's probably at his peak right now.
With Plymouth's proximity to Ann Arbor, I should be able to check out a few of Brennen's games this year, and will have highlights to post on mgoblog.
|St. Pius X Schedule 2010|
|8-28||7:00||@ Trinity Christian Academy|
|10-8||7:30||@ Monsignor Kelly|
|10-15||7:30||@ Houston Christian|
|11-5||7:30||@ St. Thomas|
St. Pius X
HS position: Linebacker
Projects as: Linebacker
Last year, St. Pius went 8-2 in the regular season, making the playoffs. Once there, they defeated San Antonio Central Catholic 42-28 and winning a district championship before being knocked out in a 28-36 Loss to Temple Nolan Catholic. Jones was one of the stars of his team, with 75 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, six sacks, and three fumbles forced/recovered in nine games played. he also added an interception in his first-team all-state campaign.
The Panthers expect to make the playoffs, as they have in each of the past seven seasons. Jones will be a key player defensively. It is important to note that their success does not come against some of the best teams in Texas, as they compete in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, and don't see the big public schools. That factor will probably keep Jones ranked where he is now.
I won't be seeing Jones in person this season, but still expect to fill you in on his stats each week.
|Fremont Ross Schedule 2010|
|8-27||7:00||@ Toledo Start|
|9-10||7:30||@ Tiffin Columbian|
|9-17||7:30||@ Cleveland Benedictine|
Ross High School
HS position: Safety/Receiver
Projects as: Cornerback/Safety
Last year, Ross struggled to a 5-5 record, missing the state playoffs. For a traditionally strong program, this was a serious letdown. Greg Brown was one of the stars of last year's team, however, and since he was committed for so long, I covered him in last year's Friday Night Lights feature. He finished with about 26 receptions for 440 yards, and 24 carries for 133 yards on offense (where he was named 2nd team All-district at wideout). I couldn't find defensive stats for him.
The year, Ross expects to make a return to the playoffs, and a much-improved record. Brown has moved from corner to safety on defense.
"We want to put him in a position where he can make plays," Kidwell said of Brown. "At corner you can run away from him or you can throw away from him. We put him at free safety and he'll be in the middle of the field and he should be a great run supporter for us and he should be a great pass defender for us."
His attitude is reportedly much better than it was last year, which might mean more stats. He'll still be a versatile threat for the offense, maybe more on the ground this year, as Ross graduated QB Cody Foos. If Brown can prove himself on the field this fall, he might be in for a rankings bump.
I'm not sure if I'll get a chance to see Brown in person this season.
|Cass Tech Schedule 2010|
|8-28||8:00||AA Pioneer (@EMU)|
|9-10||4:00||@ Detroit Denby|
|9-10||4:30||@ Detroit Southeastern|
|9-24||4:30||Detroit ML King|
|10-8||4:30||@ Detroit Northwestern|
Cass Tech High School
HS position: Corner/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Cornerback
Last year, Cass Tech went 5-3 in the regular season, making the MHSAA playoffs. They squeaked by Dearborn Fordson in the first round, before Detroit Southeastern knocked them out with a 41-0 pounding. They finished with a 6-4 overall record. Through five games, Hollowell had 3 interceptions and 25+ tackles, but I couldn't find stats for the second half of the year.
Cass Tech, like most of the Detroit Public Schools, struggles against suburban schools. They are consistently one of the top teams in the PSL, though Detroit Southeastern has whipped them a few times in a row. Hollowell will be one anchor of a strong secondary, and be a speedy, big-play receiver on the other side of the ball. Hollowell is unlikely to see his rankings go up, as it's his size that's keeping him ranked where he is.
This Saturday, Cass plays Ann Arbor Pioneer at Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium at 8pm, part of the Big Day Prep Showdown. I'll be there getting highlights of Hollowell (and his junior teammates Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson). There are conflicting schedule on the internet for the Technicians, so I'm not sure which game is accurate for the 10th.
[Ed: Bump for truth.]
"Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were." (Marcel Proust)
We all begin these stories with two simple words: "I remember." That is how mine begins too.
I remember my dad turning off the TV, too agitated to even watch, even when we won.
I remember how the game often fell on my birthday, and the common result: one friend or the other's present to me were two tickets to see the event. What better gift?
I remember the first time I saw it in person, 1985, or at least the first time I remember seeing it in person. It wasn't a particularly nice day (when is it nice in November?), and a distinct chill settled over the stadium when Cris Carter caught a leaping touchdown to bring that team within three. Far too much time on the clock. The sky looming gray, threatening. The lights were on, casting an unusual glow on the field. And on 2nd and 7, trapped deep in our own end, a young Jim Harbaugh faded back into the pocket, looked left, and stepped firmly into Michigan History (at 8:11 in the clip below):
What I remember most about that play: the sudden roar of the crowd as the ball landed in Kolesar's hands; the entire stadium standing up to see what happened (blocking my own view, mostly). What I could see: on the side of the field where I was, Harbaugh laying on the ground, a referee huddling over him to make sure he wasn't hurt. Yes ref, he's OK. He just won The goddamned Game.
I remember too the next time I saw the Game in person, Earle Bruce's last. The bitter disappointment of losing, but the small secret pleasure of seeing a beleaguered coach, just fired from a job he loved, carried off the field by his team.
I remember God's seeming reply to Bruce's firing. And thus He spake: "So you don't want to go .500 against Michigan, huh? How about 2-10-1?". I remember irony.
I remember many years of living on the west coast, with The Game being one of the few games I knew I'd be able to watch, one of my few connections to my past, my roots. And who can forget: Shawn Springs slipping, Charles Woodson intercepting/receiving/punt-returning. And yes, I remember Timmy.
When we talk about the Game, that is all we talk about: our memories. This is why the current plans to tinker offend. It is as if someone is reaching into your mind and altering those memories that you hold so dear. As a movie plot, maybe. As something for our collective football hive mind, not so much.
We all remember so much about that one day in November. As Proust points out, our memories may not reflect reality. I know, for example, that somewhere in my mind, Crable didn't get flagged for a late hit, and we won that damn game. But, good or bad, they are our memories, and as fans, they are what we cherish about this silly but beautiful pastime.
When Delany, Brandon, Smith, and the other nominal powers-that-be decide, for good reasons or bad, to move the Game, they are not just changing the schedule. They are changing our memories, changing the sights and sounds in our minds. Not destroying them. But lessening them, cheapening them.
And this is why we write letters, post diaries, join facebook groups. A vain attempt to protect our brains, our memories. Our maize and blue blood telling us to strike out at this agent; it seems harmful, it smells foul. And perhaps, also, as one last vain attempt to ensure that for our next generation of fans, these same sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible memories will one day be theirs, too.
I know too much on this topic has already been said. But as I woke this morning, this is what was in me. I imagine it is in many of you too. So if I offend for yet another post on said topic, well, sorry about that. Perhaps I shouldn't apologize, though. As Disraeli said, "Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth."
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected] or tweet @varsityblue.
Since next week's Thursday Recruitin' is the last one(!) before actual football(!), I'll devote a good portion of it to a visitor list for the UConn game. Of course, there's no harm in looking ahead, right?
FL RB Demetrius Hart (at right) is expected to make it in for UConn (along with either the Michigan State or Iowa game). Will he be able to convince his buddy, Alabama Commit S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix to join him? (Sounds like it).
GA S Avery Walls has named four of the schools that he'll officially visit. Michigan, Tennessee, Cal, and Oregon are the lucky few, and he's trying to schedule a fifth. The Michigan visit is next week.
LA CB Daren Kitchen will make his official visit for the UConn game ($, info in header). He's on commitment watch if a written offer comes through.
Tom has compiled a more comprehensive list, including a number of unofficial visitors from the classes of 2011 and 2012.
Non-UConn related, NJ S Sheldon Royster might try to visit Michigan before the end of the month ($, info in header). Seeing as how the month ends in five days, he'd have to get that over with very soon.
In less certain visit news, a couple guys are "maybes" on making it to Ann Arbor this fall.
OH OL Aundrey Walker has named three official visit destinations: Michigan State, Ohio State, and USC. The Spartans and Trojans seem to be the two teams giving Ohio State the biggest challenge. Michigan is a longshot for him at this point. [Ed: Glenville guy so obvs.]
FL CB/S Jonathan Aiken is starting to set his official visits, and Michigan should be one of those:
“Nothing is really set in stone, but there’s really a couple I really plan on taking which is Rutgers and UCLA,” said Aiken. “Once I get my schedule from my coach, I can probably go ahead and set them two in stone, because those are two I really plan on taking. There are a couple others, I might go to Michigan.”
It doesn't sound like he's high on the Wolverines, and he's planning to make a commitment in the early fall. If he does come to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines might secure his commitment, but otherwise don't hold your breath (H/T On the Banks).
CA CB/Ath DeAnthony Thomas, a USC commit, has talked about visiting other schools, including Michigan. However, it's not the Wolverines (or even the Trojans) that he's favoring:
Thomas who is nicknamed the "Black Mamba" is the top CB in the country. He was considered a lock to USC but now lists Washington and UCLA as his favorites.
We'll have to wait and see if Rich Rodriguez offers Thomas.
Pruning Lists, Taking Tests, Graduating Early
NJ QB/TE Tanner McEvoy is narrowing his list to ten schools. Once he gives his turndowns to the coaches of teams that aren't making the cut, he'll make the list public. I would be surprised if Michigan makes the cut (H/T On the Banks).
MI RB Thomas Rawls, is trying to up his ACT score, and takes it again in September. He speaks with Fred Jackson regularly, and it sounds ike Michigan will offer once he gets qualified.
His film is impressive, and he could be the big back complement in this class if everything works out academically. Rawls is in a similar situation to MI DT Damon Knox, whose impressive film could net him an offer with improvement in the classroom.
IL OL Chris Bryant is the latest profilee of Sam Webb in the Detroit News. The upshot:
"Signing day was my goal, but with everyone committing so early and everything it is hard to say (that a choice will be held off that long). Once I set my top schools and they start filling up, I'm going to have to go ahead and decide out of my top schools which one I'm going to...
"(The Michigan coaches) were telling me that I'm definitely one of the top guys on their recruiting list," he said. "If it ever came down to the point where they were just running out of spots or had one spot left, they said that they would definitely get in contact with me and let me know.
If Michigan pushes for a commitment at some point, they're likely to get one.
MD DT Darian Cooper has narrowed his list to seven schools, including Michigan. He won't plan any official visits until he is down to five schools.
NC Ath Kris Frost tells Tom that he plans to graduate early from high school. If he commits to Michigan, look for a January enrollment.
WI RB Melvin Gordon committed to Iowa.
IN OL Nick Martin committed to Kentucky.
FL OL Max Lang committed to South Florida.
MI TE Ben McCord committed to Ball State. He wasn't willing to wait around for higher-caliber offers, it seems.
FL DE/DT/OT Giorgio Newberry is planning official visits to LSU, Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Clemson. He doesn't mention Michigan in the article, and another one says he's down to a final list without the Wolverines, so happy trails it is.
SC DE Gerald Dixon has trimmed his list to South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn, and Wake Forest.
MI CB Valdez Showers committed to Florida yesterday. Michigan State and Michigan were the runners-up, though he said he always wanted to get out of the state.
FL QB Nick Patti won the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge at the Las Vegas Elite 11 camp.
FL OL Abraham "Nacho" Garcia (at right) is interested in a few schools early in the process:
I like Wisconsin, Michigan and UM too,” Garcia said. “I’ve read up on the Big 10 and I have friends that are going there. I have friends that are going to a bunch of schools."
With LSU, Florida, and Ohio State also on the radar, it sounds like he has bigtime early interest. He wants to be the top recruit in the class of 2012, thanks to his run blocking skills:
"Abe is the kind of guy that can be the cornerstone of your team," Harriot said. "He's a strong force, he's the anchor of our line. We know we can go to his side whenever we need a first down or a touchdown."
Keep an eye on Garcia for next year's class.
OH DE Chris Wormley attended Michigan's Fan Day on Sunday.
I'm not posting this in the hope that it will change anything. Since Dave Brandon came out in favor of moving the Michigan-Ohio State game to midseason there's been tremendous fan pushback, with opinion running about 10-to-1 against. It obviously doesn't matter, because the men in suits are ramping up the meaningless PR doublespeak to alarming levels:
…the reason the Big Ten is great is because of our fans. We had five and a half million fans come to games [in 2009]. Whether it’s the Rose Bowl or Ohio State-Michigan, we welcome that, and there’s an awful lot of discussion of, generally speaking, how our fans feel about what we do. We're not fan-insensitive, we're fan-receptive and are only interested in doing what is going to grow our fan base.
Whenever someone starts talking about how great the fans are, the fans are about to get it in uncomfortable places, especially when that's the first thing they talk about in the face of obvious, massive opposition. Meanwhile, the SID is trying to calm people over email by saying for Michigan and Ohio State to meet for the conference title they will "have to play their way into the championship game." If it was a trial balloon people would be walking it back by now after the reaction it's received. The thing is far enough along that Barry Alvarez is flat-out stating that Iowa and Wisconsin will be split up. It's actually happening.
So this doesn't matter. But here's why Michigan and Ohio State's athletic directors should be out in the streets rounding up pitchfork-toting mobs instead of rolling over like Indiana:
The financial benefits are almost literally zero. Dan Wetzel cites a TV executive claiming that at maximum, the vague possibility of Michigan and Ohio State meeting in a Big Ten championship game once a decade might be worth two million dollars a year ("it might be half that," he adds). Even taking the most optimistic number, the end result for Michigan is another 150k per year (the conference takes a share). Assuming an average of seven home games a year, Michigan could earn that by raising ticket prices twenty cents. Meanwhile, every other Big Ten team sees the same increase in their bottom line.
Michigan and Ohio State will almost never meet. The Plain Dealer looked back at the league since Penn State's addition and concluded that in the last sixteen years, a Michigan-Ohio State championship game would have happened all of three times.
In the future you can expect that to be far less frequent. Michigan will be guaranteed that 1) they play an outstanding Ohio State team and 2) three of the other five teams in their division do not. If the matchup is going to occur it's going to be the same for Ohio State. The loser of that game is going to have to overcome that deficit against teams that have a much easier schedule. The addition of Nebraska adds another historic power to the league. "Once a decade" is not hyperbole. It's a reasonable estimate.
As a result, you are turning M-OSU from something that will always have stakes to something you hope to do over. This is Delany's reasoning:
"If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?" he asked. "Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet for the right to be in the NCAA or the Rose Bowl?
"We've had those debates. It's a good one. The question is whether you want to confine a game that's one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game."
Yes. Because the loser of that game is doomed and knows it. Moving it to midseason just makes it a particularly high hurdle that might not mean much—that the conference explicitly hopes doesn't mean much—at the end of the year, when the two teams can do it again, except indoors in Indianapolis. Doctor Saturday:
Keep the game what it's always been, the ritualistic culmination of an entire season in a single, freezing orgy of centuries-old hate that cannot be overturned or redeemed for at least another 365 days. In good years, the division championship (hence a shot at the conference championship) will be on the line, preserving the familiar winner-take-all/loser-go-home intensity that made "The Game" what it is in the first place.
You are doing something your fans hate. The kids don't get paid, the stadium doesn't have advertising, the idea that there is a Michigan Thing that it is possible not to "get" in a way that it is not possible Jim Schwartz does not "get" the Lions Thing: these are the things that separate college football from minor league baseball. For decades Michigan's season has had a certain shape defined by the great Satan at the end of it.
This is where the disconnect between the suits and the fans is greatest. Beating Ohio State isn't about winning the Big Ten, it's about beating Ohio State, just like the Egg Bowl is about beating that other team in Mississippi or the Civil War is about beating that other team in Oregon or any billion other year-end rivalry games that have been played since the Great Depression. M-OSU is the super-sized version of the old-fashioned rivalries based on pure hate. It's not Miami-Florida State, a game entirely dependent on the teams being national contenders for it to even sell out, but the Big Ten is treating it like the country's fakest rivalry game anyway.
It so happens that a lot of the time OSU and Michigan do decide the Big Ten, but did anyone want to beat OSU less in the mid-90s when Michigan limped into the game with 3 or 4 losses every year? Or last year? No. Would it matter less as an October game to be followed by three or four more? Necessarily yes. Is that the worst thing in the world? Yes.
I have no tolerance for anyone too dense to grasp this, much less see it as a potentially good thing, as Dave at Maize N Brew does. I said his post on the matter was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen a Michigan fan write and it remains so. Orson's post on the matter is also the dumbest thing I've ever seen him write. The reason college football matters in a way the NFL does not is the idea it has that some things are not worth selling. Once the date of the Michigan-Ohio State game goes the only thing left is the labor of the players.
I'll still be there. I don't have a choice, really, but the special kind of misery I'll experience when Michigan plays Ohio State at 8 PM in October and Special K blasts "Lose Yourself" during a critical review will make me feel like an exploited sap, not a member of a community in which my opinions matter. They clearly don't. This will matter in the same way erosion does.
AND NOW: A BUNCH OF UNAFFILIATED FOLK SHARE THEIR OPINIONS
Speaking as an Auburn fan on Big 10 moving M/OSU to midseason: If they'd tried that w/ the Iron Bowl I'd have burned SEC HQ to the ground
Because I have a soul, I've already firmly aligned myself with the "armageddon" crowd, made up of those of us who can't stand the thought of one side telling the other in mid-October, "We'll see you again when it really matters." Which probably means I've aligned myself with the losing side. Whatever the motivations of its less influential champions, the prospect of a Buckeye-Wolverine split only has traction among people who matter because the people who matter see a buck in it: If one Ohio State-Michigan game is good, two Ohio State-Michigan games must be even better, and I'm sure they have the ratings projections and accompanying ad rates to prove it. The rivalry has already defined and shaped the national perception of the Big Ten for the last 50 years; just think of the possibility of the rivalry-as-championship game as "expanding the brand."
Saving this game at the end is the culmination of a season-long crescendo.
Michigan-Indiana at the end of the year, for example, doesn’t offer the same cachet.
And it never will.
Are you kidding me? It's been played the last week of the season all but once since 1935, and it's the league's single most important franchise. You would think conference leaders would go to any length to protect it. …
Sometimes leaders make decisions without properly thinking through the issues. This one sounds like a case of over-thinking. Do the right thing, Mr. Delany, Mr. Brandon and Mr. Smith, lest the ghosts of Woody and Bo haunt you in your sleep.
Be warned, Big Ten: you move The Game, you will rip the heart and suck the soul out of the single greatest property the conference owns. And for what, a few more advertising dollars every few years when they do happen to stumble into a title showdown? One that will, incidentally, likely be contested in a sterile, domed, neutral location as opposed to yet another reason that The Game is what it is -- The Big House and The Shoe.
So… yeah. Join the Facebook page. Maybe it will help. It won't, actually, but maybe you'll feel better about it.
For those who are new around here, I chronicle the high school exploits of Michigan commitments over the course of their seasons in Friday Night Lights. It includes statistical recaps, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer on the offensive side of the ball.
|Lake Nona Schedule 2010|
|9-10||7:00||@ Lake Placid|
|9-17||7:00||Palm Bay Heritage|
|9-24||7:30||@ Lake Wales|
|10-29||7:30||@ Winter Haven|
Lake Nona, FL
Lake Nona High School
HS position: quarterback
Projects as: quarterback
Lake Nona had a rough inaugural season of high school ball, winning a single game on their way to a 1-9 record. Their only victory came over fellow 1-9 squad Celebration. That's understandable in their first season, one without many (or possibly any) seniors on the team as well. Sousa passed for 1346 yards and eight TDs, while rushing for 916 yards and an another five scores.
In year two of Lake Nona's existence, there's a good chance that they take a leap forward. Just like year two of a coaching change, the players are used to the coaches now (and are even used to each other, after coming from different high schools as sophomores and younger). Sousa will also be in his third year of football after growing up a soccer player. Lake Nona has added some talent as well, including RB Jarius Pace, so Sousa won't have to be a one-man show. That should mean more openings and better stats for him. I think Sousa has a chance to improve his rankings (currently a consensus 3-star) with a good year statistically.
I won't be able to catch any of Sousa's games live, but plan to follow his progress this year very closely.
|Birmingham Seaholm Schedule 2010|
|9-2||7:00||Bloomfield Hills Andover|
|9-10||7:00||@ Bloomfield Hills Lahser|
|9-16||7:00||Detroit Country Day|
|9-24||7:00||Auburn Hills Avondale|
|10-1||7:00||@ Hazel Park|
|10-22||7:00||@ Birgmingham Groves|
Seaholm High School
HS postion: wide receiver/safety
Projects as: wide receiver
Last year, Seaholm started the season by losing their first six games, before rebounding to finish with a 3-6 record. They missed the state playoffs, though they typically make it into the state tournament. Their quarterback issues prevented Conway from racking up gaudy stats. He finished the year with 79 receptions for about 800 yards with ten touchdowns.
Seaholm should be improved this year as Conway has the opportunity to star in his senior season, and their coach is on record expecting to win the league. Mick McCabe calls Conway the #17 player in the state of Michigan, and notes that his size/speed combo makes him a tough matchup. Still, unless Seaholm's quarterback situation get much better, he might not rack up serious stats. The lack of numbers will likely prevent Conway from seeing his ratings improve.
Seaholm is close enough to Ann Arbor that I should be able to make it out to a couple of Conway's games this year.
|Traverse City West Schedule 2010|
|10-2||6:00||@ Dearborn Edsel Ford|
|10-22||7:00||@ Traverse City Central|
Traverse City, MI
TC West High School
HS position: tight end/defensive end
Projects as: offensive tackle
Last season, Traverse City West went 4-5 in the regular season, missing out on the state playoffs. They run an option-based ground attack. Fisher played primarily tight end and defensive end for the Titans, accumulating 10 receptions (out of only 38 for his entire team) for 185 yards and a touchdown on offense, with four tackles for loss on D.
This season, Fisher will remain at tight end, though he's added plenty of size in the offseason (three inches and 20some pounds), so he might be more of a mauler up front and slightly less of a receiving threat. The TC West coach is dropping platitudes about character being important, so the team probably won't be that good. They received just one out of about 100 first-place votes for conference champions among local media. Since Fisher's still playing out of position in high school, he probably won't see his ratings get that much better.
I might get a chance to check out one or two of Fisher's games this year, but probably not.
|St. John's Jesuit Schedule 2010|
|9-4||1:30||@ Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice|
|9-24||7:00||@ Toledo Whitmer|
|10-22||7:00||@ Toledo Waite|
|10-29||7:00||@ Toledo Central Catholic|
St. John's Jesuit High School
HS position: defensive end/guard
Projects as: center
Last year, St. John's Jesuit went 6-4, but that wasn't good enough for them to make the state playoffs. The season included a heartbreaking 6-7 loss to crosstown rival Toledo St. Francis DeSales. [Update: your editor got confused by St. Francis DeSales claimed that was where Omameh and Rock were from; they're from Columbus. Not Tim's error.] Miller had 12 sacks for his team, but obviously didn't accrue any stats as an offensive lineman.
St. John's Jesuit is in their final year of the City League, and will be competing in a new conference by next season, so this is their Nebraska-like last chance to win. Miller will play on both sides of the ball for his team. The recruiting sites can't even agree on what position Miller will play, so if he excels on the offensive line this year, he could see his ratings move up a bit.
I should have a couple opportunities to see Miller play in person (including tonight! Follow me on Twitter @varsityblue for updates) and plan to take some original mgoblog video.
|Tampa Plant Schedule 2010|
|8-27||7:00||@ Manatee (ESPNU)|
|9-3||7:30||@ Tampa Bay Tech|
|9-16||7:00||@ Abilene, TX|
Plant High School
HS position: offensive tackle
Projects as: offensive guard/tackle
Last year, Plant was loaded, running up a 13-1 record and winning the Florida Class 5A State Championship. Posada was key a member of a line that racked up 2945 team rushing yards.
Plant is still loaded in 2010, with RB James Wilder and QB Phillip Ely committed to big time programs (Florida State and Alabama, respectively). They're the odds-on favorite to win a third consecutive state title. Posada should once again be a bookend for the line. With the amount of exposure that Plant gets, Posada will have to show some improvement in technique (and an ability to keep his weight down) if he wants to see his rankings move up.
I won't be able to see Tony play in person, however his team will be playing Manatee this Friday in a rematch of the 2009 state title game. The matchup will air on ESPNU.
Notes from Coach Rod's Wednesday presser.
The QB battle is close. The coaches haven't been able to taper down who gets snaps. As long as they get better every day, you can be pleased with the progress. Everybody is too worried about who the starting QB is. The second team gets almost as many reps as the first team.
Any of the three are capable of starting right now, but he wants them to play at a high level. "If they're able to do that and execute the offense, then all three will play." Will keep QB choice quiet for competitive reasons. QBs will know Friday night (before game). Nobody else will know until kickoff at 3:36 Saturday.
No particular RB (or two) has stepped to the forefront. The position gets banged up in camp, which limits development. "We have some talent there, we'll be OK." The top 2-3 guys will play. Certain guys run certain plays better, so they'll get in the game for that play.
Fitzgerald Toussaint practiced yesterday, but not today. He's had a neck stinger, now his knee is sore. He'll be banged up a couple days, but might practice friday. Michael Shaw is still taking "the class," working hard at it. He's been spending half of his time practicing, and half of his time studying.
The offensive line is "not set as far as starters, but I think set as far as, you know who the 8-9-10 guys that are gonna be in the rotation will be." RR feels better about up front than the past couple years. He would like to play at least 8 offensive linemen (5 starters, backup C, G, T), depending on how they're performing and the tempo of the game. He would love to have two whole groups at line.
Improvement on defense has to come from several places. One guy can't replace Brandon Graham by himself. "The thing I probably feel the best about our defense is that we have a bigger pool of guys I think are going to be playing. That's going to allow us to have a little more depth, do a few more things defensively." If a couple guys (Mike Martin, Jonas Mouton, and JT Floyd in particular) have a big year, it'll offset some of the losses.
Will Campbell wasn't in great shape when camp started. He's been playing himself into shape. Mike Martin and Adam Patterson are at NG, "if he wants to play he's gotta compete." Rodriguez wants senior Sagesse, Banks, and Patterson, to have their best years. They're having good camps. "Of course you've got Mike Martin up front too who's had an outstanding camp. I think he can have a great year at noseguard for us."
Moundros may be the starter at middle linebacker. Right now he's taking a lot of reps. Mark has at least seen the field, which gives him experience (even if it's at a different position). He has intangibles. He needs to learn technique and system, but he was able to do that mostly in the spring. He's made very few mental errors for being new to the position.
There are some potential answers in the secondary. "Coming from freshman class. "It's kind of scary when you think about true freshmen playing in the secondary, but there's some talent there." They're progressing well now that summer class is over and they can focus on football. 4-5 true freshman DBs will play this year.
Cam Gordon - "He didn't play as well as he had played in any other practice in the scrimmage," but he's had a good camp and the staff feels good about him.
JT Floyd will start at corner on one side. Other corner might be Jame Rogers, "this is the best football he's played," or young guys. Have to keep it simple for the youngsters.
Nothing's new at kicker; it's inconsistent day-to-day. Most days have been encouraging - yesterday was not one of those days. They've been practicing on the new turf in the stadium. It's unlikely that different kickers will be used depending on distance of the kick.
Yesterday was a scrimmage. The last three quarters of practice, only players, officials, and Rodriguez were on the field. Did every special team and offense v. defense. "Glad we did it, but we've gotta do it again." They'll do it again friday, less intense, and maybe a little tomorrow. "With so many young guys, especially on defense playing, we've gotta try to get them used to what it's going to be like in a game where there aren't coaches standing behind them or on the side of them telling them what to do." It's a different atmosphere then practice, with signaling plays, etc.
Troy Woolfolk had surgery yesterday. "Everything went well with the surgery. Certainly it looks like he's lost for the season." No reason why he can't be 100% next year, and Rodriguez thinks he wants to come back for a 5th year. "It's his decision, of course, but Troy loves football."
Have a good grasp on what the team can do. "Certainly offensively, we have a pretty good idea of where our strengths are. And I think defensively too, even with the young guys, it probably takes them a little bit longer to determine a young guy because they have not done it in a game." Some guys plays better in a game, some play too nervous.
Started installing for UConn at the beginning of camp. "Starting really yesterday, and certainly today, and a lot tomorrow and Friday, will be a lot of UConn installation in all three phases."
Quotes from some of Michigan's players at Sunday's Media Day.
"I wish [Troy Woolfolk] a speedy recovery, man. That was like my best friend. I looked across there and that was my man." Woolfolk has encouraged Floyd to keep his head up, and work to make the secondary as good as possible.
Floyd hasn't had to step up his leadership with Woolfolk going out. He's always been a high-energy guy, and will continue to be that way.
Floyd is excited for the opportunity to be the team's top corner. "Personally, I've worked hard for a very long time. I put a lot of time in this summer to work to get better. I just ready for the opportunity to really show what I can do."
Floyd had never played corner until he got to Michigan (he was always a safety in high school). He's now had two years at the position, and knows what to expect and how to prepare.
Stonum's biggest improvement this off-season has been in ball skills. He was already running good routes, had good speed, and was recognizing coverages. He just needed to catch the ball when it showed up. Contact lenses have helped with that, as did working hard individually this summer.
Stonum tried to get a little bit bigger, because he takes a lot of hits with kickoff returns and receiver duty. The team worked hard this summer to get into shape.
The whole wide receiver crew has worked hard to show that they can be the #1 guy. The competition makes everyone better, and makes the team better.
Spending a couple days in jail this summer was a learning experience. It's in the past, and it's something Darryl can look back at, making sure something like it doesn't happen again. Darryl, the coaches, and his family talked about it together, and made the best out of a bad situation.
Darryl and Junior Hemingway take a leadership role among the wide receivers. They're trying to show the younger guys the ropes. "Everybody's a leader. If you're doing what you're supposed to do, and you're someone that your teammate can look at and be like 'he's doing the right thing, he's doing what he's supposed to do' then you're a leader."
"Last year, I thought I was just going to play a role in the defense. I had no idea I was going to start." He didn't find out until Friday before the first game.
On whether there's more pressure to win this season: "More pressure? Nawww. We're at Michigan. We've always got pressure." The team just needs to go out there and play their hardest.
One of the reasons Roundtree came to Michigan is that he loves the tradition and academics (subtle Purdue dig?).
Even when he wasn't a big contributor last year, Roundtree was practicing hard every day. When he finally got his chance, he showed everyone that he had been working hard. "Now that I am almost like the head of the offensive corps, I still work my tail off and still the same things I did last year when I wasn't starting are the same things I'm doing now."
At first, Smith was a little worried about how his knee would hold up in practice. Now, "I'm just going out there to compete and just make it better and better every day." He's now feeling comfortable, and there's no pain in his knee.
Smith was never worried that his knee would never be the same. His lateral quickness means a lot to his game.
"It was pretty tough just going out there and seeing them playing" this spring, when he was held out of practice.
Everybody looked at Smith's size and height coming out of high school as negatives. Michigan saw more though, in his passion for football.
Despite Smith's size, he's more than just a third-down back. He's been preparing to be an every-down guy. He's gotten bigger and worked on the mental game this summer.
Michael Cox and Michael Shaw
Cox: "We've got a real good relationship with Coach J [Fred Jackson], we just gotta do what he asks us to do, and he'll be happy with us."
Shaw: "[Jackson] definitely knows what he's talking about. No question about it. Everything he says, you've gotta listen to it." The coaches have to be brutally honest in their constructive criticism, because that's the only way you'll get better and win football games.
Cox: The different backs give defenses more to prepare for. They can change up in the game and exploit different weaknesses.
Shaw: "I'm not gonna try to run over linebackers, but if Cox wants to do that - look at him - he's definitely a good fit for the job." Having a variety of roles for the running backs makes it better, because you can bring in a fresh pair of legs with no dropoff.
Rogers started the spring game with the ones, because Troy had just gone down with a finger injury. When that happened (and when Troy injured his ankle a week ago), Rogers knew he had to step up.
"I'm just here to play. I'm here to do whatever the team needs. I just get out here and I try to work hard every day." He can't worry about depth chart positions.
Rogers came in as a receiver, but told the coaches he was willing to switch positions to help the team as soon as he arrived in Ann Arbor. He's bounced around since.
Rogers is trying to prepare the young guys, and be a leader. Now that Woolfolk is out, he''ll have to step it up even further.
Woolfolk is a loose leader, and it helps calm down the players so they don't get too serious. Rogers's leadership style might not be the same.