that is nice bonus change
I did go even though it was cold and I expected little and was rewarded by the unexpected unveiling of an actual scrimmage, though the massive losses on offense made it hard to draw any conclusions. The dread specters of
Kirk Mark Moundros rumbling ahead or Andre Criswell getting endzone looks only figure in the nightmares of Michigan fans, not the plans. Some impressions:
- Charles Stewart looked effective at safety. At the very least he looked more on top of things than he did in last year's Minnesota game. He's still just a sophomore and has plenty of time to establish himself as a contributor.
- The first string linebackers were Ezeh, Panter, and Mouton. Though reports from practice have been a little down on Panter's readiness, I thought he looked fine to good out there, a solid tackler with good enough speed. He was mostly tackling Vince Helmuth and Moundros, though. Mouton was physically reminiscent of Larry Foote. I have my money on him in the WLB competition against Graham. Ezeh was at SAM and did okay.
- Savoy and Mathews were somewhat disappointing, though Mathews did provide several moments of levity when he was outraged at being interfered with and expressed his displeasure to the ref. Michigan tried to go to him deep several times; Henne connected on a 30-yard fade but Mallett's balls were always long. I thought to myself "Manningham would have run under that" several times; Mathews is not going to be our deep threat when Manningham gets gone. Savoy's hands were questionable.
- We have no tight ends.
- Mallett had a couple moments where you were like "Jesus!" but usually looked the part of an overmatched freshman. I don't know if the receivers were to blame, but a lot of his balls were wide or long. He was primarily working with walkons.
- Sears is getting trashed many places but he didn't stand out as a negative to me. Not a positive, either, but I concentrated on him for a couple snaps and he seemed okay in my unprofessional opinion.
- First team defensive line was impressive. The backups were not.
- KC Lopata appears to be the first-string kicker. He was 3/4 on the day with two makes and a miss coming from decent distance. Bryan Wright didn't look particularly good.
Carr had one major piece of news in his post-spring presser: Carlos Brown is once again a running back and is not transferring. Score one for Angelique Chengelis. Also, Justin Boren will be the starting center this year. Redshirt freshman walk-on Mark Moundros will be the backup fullback.
Stephen Bell, a connected guy in the realm of Michigan high school basketball, says that an Alpena forward, Eric Puls, is coming in as a preferred walkon. Normally this would be shrug-worthy news, but since Puls is a 6'9" guy with three-point range he might end up being a contributor. Fawning Alpena News article:
Over the past few years there hasn't been a basketball player in the northeastern Michigan area as versatile as Alpena forward Eric Puls.
The 6-foot-9 Puls gave Alpena an unmatched presence in the paint who also was skilled enough to step out and drain a three-pointer or handle the ball like a guard.
This is almost certainly wild exaggeration resulting from watching a potential D-II college player go up against the various bewildered lumberjacks I assume populate the high school basketball teams of northern lower Michigan, but if he can shoot and handle and pass Beilein might turn him into another Pitsnoggle. Tatoo parlors of Ann Arbor should go to red alert if this is a picture of him (the caption on the story implies it is but isn't explicit):
"They shot the ball as well as any team we've played in the past seven years," Cadillac coach Jeff McDonald said. "It was most just one player but to the rest of their team's credit, they matched up with us athletically and gave us a lot of problems."
The one player is senior 6-foot-8 Eric Puls. He hit five threes in the game and had 26 points in the first half en route to a 36-point night.
"He was really on fire and you have to give him a lot of credit for the way he played but we have to find a better way to stop him next time," McDonald said.
And there's more!
"It was The Eric Puls' Show," Marquette head coach John Tiziani said. "But big players show up for big games."
Puls started the game by scoring Alpena's first 14 points, which included four 3-pointers. He finished with 30 points.
Hopefully he's as successful as fellow Alpena-to-Ann-Arbor transplants Mason Proper, who kick ass.
Rumor update. Kevin Grady's ACL tear is out in the wild:
Junior running back Kevin Grady is U-M's latest casualty after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during last Saturday's practice.
His father, Kevin Grady Sr., confirmed the knee injury Thursday evening.
"He was having a great spring, but it's one of those things that's out of your control," Grady Sr. said.
Grady has a redshirt available and is expected to take it.
Angelique Chengelis says not so fast (no permalink) on the Carlos Brown thing:
The source also said rampant rumors of Carlos Brown's transfer are not true. Well, not exactly. Brown, who moved this spring from tailback to cornerback, was, apparently, contemplating whether to leave the Wolverines and did take time off from practice, but he has decided to stay put. Michigan's final spring practice is Saturday.
At last check, Rivals was still assuming he was gone and they've proven far more accurate than the News about these sorts of things in the past unless the topic is Morgan Trent's hand, so I remain somewhat skeptical. It does sound like Brown recently decided to stay, perhaps in the aftermath of the Grady injury, so this is less a conflict and more the News getting some updated information. Brown's return would be welcomed at either tailback or cornerback or even both. He's also reportedly having the kick and punt return jobs dangled in front of him.
Since the spring non-game has an ugly weather forecast hanging over it, attendance will be sparse. But intrepid WOLV TV will be there:
Paul and I will be attending the final spring practice this Saturday, armed with cameras (video and still) and our comprehensive note-taking abilities. There is a high likelihood that we are able to interview a player or two, especially among those who won't be participating in full (Nobody important: Hart, Long).
They've opened the floor to contributions from the peanut gallery:
If you have anything that you want us to take a closer look at, something you want video or pictures of, or any questions you want us to ask, post them in the comments and we'll do our best to accommodate you.
Offer suggestions @ Varsity Blue.
Update 4/10: Linked to articles on CA WR Christopher Owusu, CA OL Khaled Holmes, and MO TE Wes Kemp. Both downgraded to red due to a lack of interest on M's part. Removed MN LB Sam Maresh (Minn). NE OL Trevor Robinson (Neb), OH TE Nic DeLillo (Clemson). Note that the same article claims M is in Zebrie Sanders' top three. Linked to articles on AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie and KS LB Arthur Brown. Removed TN WR Rodriguez Wilks (we threw him an offer but he's SEC all the way), CO OL Bryce Givens (Neb). Added OH OL Elliot Mealer, OH LB Jamiihr Williams. Linked to very positive article on MI WR Fred Smith and one of those Scout articles about campers/visitors that make a lot of assertions worth evaluating.
Editorial Opinion: A few players are off the board: Sam Maresh committed to his hometown Gophers; ditto for Trevor Robinson and Nebraska. Nic DeLillo had expressed some interest in Michigan but didn't have an offer and seemed unlikely to get one anytime soon with Michigan focusing on Ohioans Brandon Moore and Kevin Koger plus instate prospect Tyler Hoover. None of those are a big deal. Bryce Givens' sudden commit to Nebraska -- earlier he had made the standard noises about taking his time -- sucks mildly because Michigan needs a lot of linemen and he's a good one who had named Michigan his co-leader with the Huskers.
Another couple of prospects have expressed an interest in Michigan that doesn't appear mutual at the moment. CA WR Christopher Owusu is in line behind Fred Smith, -- more on him later -- Jonathan Baldwin, and Daryl Stonum. He might get an offer but he seems like the kind of guy who'd have to show up to camp to do so and as a Californian that seems unlikely. He has Stanford as his tentative leader. (Sidenote: Stanford is popping up more frequently and is being mentioned in a kinder light under Harbaugh's leadership.) MO TE/WR Wes Kemp has repeatedly mentioned he was a big Michigan fan growing up but is behind the same tight ends that DeLillo was.
So all that is fine. What is odd and dispiriting is Khaled Holmes' lack of an offer. He's amongst the top offensive line recruits in the country in a year when Michigan needs lots of linemen, is the son of a former Michigan star, and has an offer from Freakin' USC. This would seem to indicate that he warrants one from Michigan as well, but he does not have one. USC is Holmes' firm leader and Michigan has probably already given away much of its opportunity to make up ground. Bleah! The only possible explanation I can see is that Michigan is really married to this zone thing and they don't think he's a fit for it, but their interest in brobdingnagian Oregonian (say that five times fast) Matt Lipski (6'9", 362!) and similarly huge Californian Vaughn Dotsy makes that unlikely.
KS LB Arthur Brown is perhaps the most highly recruited linebacker in the country, though CO LB Jon Major may be pushing him in terms of total offers. Michigan's thrown him an offer and gets mentioned in every article, but he's not tipping his hand. Until he names a group of leaders, no one knows what he's going to do. He does seem to like Oklahoma.
Zebrie Sanders... who knows? He alternately omits Michigan from his top five and then says he's amongst his leaders. The latest public information is the good half of that equation, as he claims Michigan is in his top three with Clemson and Georgia. (He recently moved from South Carolina. If he had not, he would be a senior at Richland Northeast, the former home of sophomore defensive end Adam Patterson.)
Instate wideout Fred Smith has an offer and, uh...
"Then Michigan was my first big offer. Everybody around here was excited about it. I grew up a Michigan fan. Everybody knows that Michigan is a big-time program. I'm very aware of the big-time receiver tradition they have. Braylon Edwards is my favorite receiver, and I compare my game a lot to his since we're both big, strong and fast receivers."
The Wolverines definitely hold a special spot in his heart.
"I'm not sure I'm a Michigan lock, but I like Michigan," he said. "I'm going to take my time and go on some visits. My mom and dad don't want me to rush. I like Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and I also like Florida. I have offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Toledo and Bowling Green.
"But my mom (Teresa Smith) loves Michigan. She's told me I was going to go to Michigan since the seventh grade. I was just worried about what high school I was going to, but she was telling me about how I was going to go to Michigan."
...he seems like a good bet to commit sooner or later. Though his offer list isn't amazing at this point, Michigan has a great track record identifying instate players early and getting them. Smith is also big into the idea of wearing the #1:
"I've worn No. 1 since sixth grade in basketball, and now I wear it in football, too," he said. "No. 1 is what I want to be in everything. I like being No. 1 in everything I do. I work hard to be the best at everything. If that means working hard in the classroom, doing something extra in the weight room or shooting some more jump shots, then that's what I'm going to do."
Michigan, of course, does not dole out the #1 to incoming recruits since Braylon Edwards established a scholarship for it. Hopefully that won't be an issue.
Scout also had an interesting article on Arizona running back Covaughn Deboskie, who is only the third tailback in the 2008 class to receive a Michigan offer. (Californian Darrell Scott and Texan Sam McGuffie were the first; instater Jonas Gray is supposed to get one sooner rather than later.) From the sounds of it, Michigan has an excellent shot here:
"Michigan is just the monster of football, such a huge program," he said. "How can you not like them? I know they're going to need '08 running backs since they're losing (Mike) Hart next year.
"I was shocked when Michigan offered me. I had sent them my highlight tape, then I got a message to call Coach (Fred) Jackson. He told me that Coach (Ron) English just saw three plays on my tape and told him to offer me. I couldn't believe it! It's like when you try to get a girl's number, not thinking you will and she gives it to you. Wow!
"I'm planning on taking an official (trip) for sure to Michigan and hopefully an unofficial on June 23," Deboskie said. "I want to see the campus and just get a feeling for the place. The only thing I'm concerned about is the winters there. I'm from Arizona and it doesn't get cold here."
I can't imagine a high school junior blurting out an unironic "Wow!" but there you have it. Please note that the article came from Scout national guy Allen Wallace and not GBW, which sometimes makes things seem rosier than they actually are. Deboskie says Michigan, UCLA, and Stanford (see?) lead.
Every so often GBW will put together a list of attendees somewhere -- junior day, camp, etc. -- that has some assertions that you could infer from the tone of several articles published on both sites. Assertio
ns of interest: Michigan leads for NJ LBs JB Fitzgerald and Marcus Witherspoon ("big," in Witherspoon's case) as well as PA WR Vaughn Carraway. Carraway, as noted earlier, is an interesting case. He picked up a really, really early offer from Michigan when his only other was UConn, so Michigan likes him. But they also like Stonum, Smith, and Baldwin. And though the '08 class gets bigger by the day Michigan is not likely to take more than two wideouts in this class. Michigan might end up slow-playing someone into oblivion or turning off Baldwin with a bad depth chart situation (he's torn between football and basketball, where he's the #103 prospect on the latest Rivals 150, and won't make an early decision).
The other assertion is that Michigan "seems to love" Detroit DE/LB Nick Perry and he "could be an early commit." He doesn't have an offer yet.
(Note: Michigan's one-year blip in-state appears to be a fluke. Michigan's locked down two of the top three in-state and seems likely to pick up Smith and Perry, who are probably #4 and #5. The other is Jonas Gray, who Michigan has a decent shot with.)
And I made an invisible duplicate on my Formica tabletop of a painting by Rabo Karabekian, entitled The Temptation of Saint Anthony. My duplicate was a miniature version of the real thing, and mine was not in color, but I had captured the picture's form and the spirit, too. This is what I drew:
The original was twenty feet wide and sixteen feet high. The field was Hawaiian Avocado, a green wall paint manufactured by the O'Hare Paint and Varnish Company in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. The vertical stripe was dayglo orange reflecting tape. This was the most expensive piece of art, not counting building and tombstones, and not counting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the old Nigger* high school.
It was a scandal what the painting cost. It was the first purchase for the permanent collection of the Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts. Fred T. Barry, The chairman of the Board of Barrytron, Ltd., had coughed up fifty thousands dollars of his own for the picture.
Midland City was outraged. So was I.
As for myself: I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sacred about myself or about any human being, that we were all machines, doomed to collide and collide and collide. For want of anything better to do, we became fans of collisions. Sometimes I wrote well about collision, which meant I was a writing machine in good repair. Sometimes I wrote badly, which meant I was a writing machine in bad repair. I no more harbored sacredness than did a Pontiac, a mouse trap, or a South Bend Lathe.**
I did not expect Rabo Karabekian to rescue me. I had created him, and he was in my opinion a vain and weak and trashy man, no artist at all. But it is Rabo Karabekian who made me the serene Earthling which I am to this day.
"What kind of man would turn his daughter into an outboard motor?" he said to Bonnie MacMahon.
Bonnie MacMahon blew up. This was the first time she had blown up since she had come to work in the cocktail lounge. Her voice became as unpleasant as the noise of a bandsaw cutting galvanized tin. It was loud, too. "Oh yeah?" she said. "Oh yeah?"
Everybody froze. Bunny over stopped playing the piano. Nobody wanted to miss a word.
"You don't think much of Mary Alice Miller?" she said. "Well, we don't think much of your painting. I've seen better pictures done by a five-year-old."
Karabekian slid off his barstool so he could face all those enemies standing up. He certainly surprised me. I expected him to retreat in a hail of olives, maraschino cherries and lemon rinds. But he was majestic up there. "listen --" he said so calmly, "I have read the editorial against my painting in your wonderful newspaper. I have read every word of the hate mail you have been thoughtful enough to send to New York."
This embarrassed people some.
"The painting did not exist until I made it," Karabekian went on. "Now that it does exist, nothing would make me happier than to have it reproduced again and again, and vastly improved upon, by all the five-year-olds in town. I would love for your children to find pleasantly and playfully what it took me many angry years to find.
"I now give you my word of honor," he went on, " that the picture your city owns shows everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animal. It is the immaterial core of every animal -- the 'I am' to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us -- in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Anthony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.
"I have just heard from this cocktail waitress here, this vertical band of light, a story about her husband and an idiot who was about to be executed at Shepherdstown. Very well -- let a five-year-old paint a sacred interpretation of that encounter. Let a five-year-old strip away the idiocy, the bars, the waiting electric chair, the uniform of the guard, the gun of the guard, the bones and the meat of the guard. What is that perfect picture which any five-year-old can paint? Two unwavering bands of light."
Ecstasy bloomed on the barbaric face of Rabo Karabekian. "Citizens of Midland City, I salute you," he said. "You have given a home to a masterpiece!"
-Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast Of Champions
Kurt Vonnegut was 84.
*(note that the seemingly flippant and casual deployment of that word is vastly different in context.)
**(I swear to god that something coming out of South Bend and being the opposite of sacredness is his creation and not mine.)
Rumors of an unfortunate nature. This is always a fine line to walk, but I think both of these nasty football-related items have tripped the threshold of credibility and should thus be reported. Keep in mind that the following are rumors of the message board variety, though they're ones that have multiple credible sources:
- Kevin Grady tore his ACL and will miss the 2007 season.
- Carlos Brown has been absent from practice for the past week and is likely to transfer to an SEC school so he can play running back.
As always, there is a nonzero chance both of these things are false, especially the latter since there is a chance Brown could change his mind. (It's unlikely a hypothetically torn Grady ACL leaps into self-mending action.)
There is a possibility that Nasty Happening #1 helps convince Brown to forgo Nasty Happening #2 since he'd be third string at worst this year with an eye on moving up, but that's widely regarded as a longshot. Those prone to gnash teeth at every departure of a "speed back" Michigan can't fathom using properly will do so here, but Brown was beaten out by a player in his recruiting class who showed some explosive speed of his own on a couple long runs. If he's really dead-set on being a running back he's probably wise to do it elsewhere.
The wider view: yuck. The losses are piling up this offseason. To date only one projected starter, Carson Butler, is gone, but Michigan is now dangerously thin at many positions. The backup QB is a true freshman. There are two tailbacks on the roster (a third joins this fall). The starting fullback is a true freshman. There's one tight end with a snap's worth of experience. There are only four defensive ends. While we haven't sustained major damage yet, our shields are down and the next concussion missile is destined for our hull.
At least it will be louder maybe at some point in the future and stuff. The Daily has an interesting article on the possibility of luxury box renovations embiggening the volume level in Michigan Stadium. A university professor has been drafted to evaluate the changes and he came to a startling conclusion:
The University is working with Architecture Prof. Mojtaba Navvab - who was also a consultant on the acoustics of Hill Auditorium - to evaluate the acoustics of the renovation plans. During one game last fall, Navvab stood just off the 50 yard line and took readings of the noise level. He found that the volume ranged between 77 and 87 decibels - about the same noise level as a loud office.
Using computer models of the renovation plans, Navvab predicted that the volume in the stadium will increase to a range of 85 to 95 decibels - just under the volume of the inside of a New York City subway. That means the stadium would sound almost twice as loud as it does now.
That alone should swing the opinion of anyone who is still on the fence about the changes. (Decibels are a logarithmic measure of volume for anyone doing some subtraction and scratching their heads.) One suggestion: when you go to the trouble of creating a interesting and informative graphic, maybe you should make it bigger than this?
Bobble. Our new women's coach has been immortalized in the same fashion that Bill Laimbeer has:
(He's on the left.)
One of these things is not like the other. There are five people on an ESPN front page poll asking about the "most promising teenager" in sports. Four of them:
- The slam-dunk #1 and #2 picks in the upcoming NBA draft
- the NHL's youngest-ever winner of the Art Ross award, a guy who scored 120 points this year
- a two-time Grand Slam event winner and former WTA player of the year.
New blogs...? There are other things for you to examine this offseason written by Michigan students. Frequent commenter Colin has embarked on his own blogging enterprise (suggestion: adopt catchier name). Law student and former Detroit News columnist(? really? Suggestion for tons of traffic: dirt on Foster) Scott Warheit tackles mostly sports but occasionally hours of 24 at Quo Vadimus. And improbably-named freshman Ace Anbender covers the entire Detroit scene at the Ace of Sports.
Etc.: King Kaufman has an entertaining interview with blogger/author Derek Zumsteg. Branch falling in NFL drafters' eyes. Michigan Sports Center fisks Bob Becker like whoah. The NHL press is really hammering this Marty Turco, choker thing. Simmons on NBA tanking -- I'm a sucker for weird proposals to fix sports.
Ending weeks of speculation, Corperryale Harris of Detroit Redford said he is honoring his signed letter-of-intent to attend Michigan.
Kelvin Grady announced yesterday that he'd honor his LOI and it sounds like Alex Legion may be persuaded to stay as well:
Legion, who returned to Oak Hill on Monday, said he expects new U-M coach John Beilein to visit him sometime this weekend in Virginia.
"I'm starting to like Michigan more and more," Legion said.
Is nice. Beilein's first foray into recruiting Detroit is a success.
Good news: Kelvin Grady has officially announced that he's staying with Michigan($). Desultory cheer from the beleaguered plebeians.
Also good news: there's a site that just popped up named MustSeeGames.com that has a selection of Michigan high school games from the recent state playoffs, including the Kelvin Grady-Anthony Crater matchup in the class B semifinal. I've pulled everything Grady did that was interesting (and a couple things that, in retrospect, aren't very interesting) for your edification:
(Right-click and 'save as': Downloadable original.)
If Manny Harris sticks with his commitment I have two games of his to execute something similar with, including one in which he goes for 41.
Grady appears to be an actual point guard who can get penetration whenever he wants to. His handling is superb, though he faintly reminds me of Jack Johnson at times when he trusts it too much and nearly gets himself pinned to the sideline or the timeline. Grady didn't get caught against Flint but dribbled himself into trouble a few times. This is forgivable because he then dribbled himself right back out of trouble. He also broke Flint's frequent trapping easily and looked to push the ball up the floor when he had broken a press or had an advantage after a missed shot. This only met middling success but Grady's speed and decision-making on the break was excellent; only an inability to finish by both his teammates and himself held down their totals. Unfortunately, his jumper was meh and, as noted, his ability to finish when he gets to the hoop was lacking. He did knock down a couple threes, but if Michigan's relying on Grady to score they're going to be disappointed. In all other ways he appears superior to Jerret Smith. (This may be less of an endorsement than you think. Somewhat shockingly, Smith led the team with a 43% three-point shooting percentage.)
Since EGR spent most of the game in a 2-3 zone, Grady didn't do much of interest on defense aside from the pair of steals on the tape. Mostly he'd come out to man up on Crater (who's clearly talented but has a tendency to take really bad shots and force things that aren't there) briefly, then retreat when the ball moved to the wing or inside. He has a rep for tough ball defense, but it wasn't apparent in this game.
Grady should be a useful player when surrounded by guys who can knock down kickout jumpers or finish inside. His ability on the break should be helpful if Legion and Harris show up; Michigan will be fielding a team of athletic guys between 6'4" and 6'9" that can all get up and down the floor, and his intelligence and handle should help Beilein cut down on the turnovers that have plagued Michigan's program since time immemorial. A role player but the kind of guy you can win with if he's got a couple of guys to set up with good looks. Cough. Cough. Legion, Harris, cough, subtlety.