to play football, not to play trumpet
Editor's note: sorry this is late. I thought I'd published this around 11 AM, but evidently I didn't hit the button.
9/26/2009 – Michigan 36, Indiana 33 – 4-0, 1-0 Big Ten
Tate Forcier dropped back to throw and Martavious Odoms broke open and Forcier lofted it. I swear to you that on an overcast, steel-gray day a sliver of light slipped through the clouds to linger on the object's parabolic, causing its rain-slicked surface to glitter as it reached its apex. It started to come back down, and Odoms slowed fractionally, allowing the Indiana safety—
Aw, hell. Indiana? No offense to a program the evidently warranted more respect than Vegas or this here blog offered in the run-up to the game, but passages of soaring majesty get ruined when a Hoosier is mentioned. Since Wangler-to-Carter, when Indiana was 8-4, moments of glory against Indiana only come in one form: oh thank God we didn't lose to Indiana.*
So, yeah: thank God we didn't lose to Indiana.
Since we didn't, we should all just breathe a sigh of relief, recalibrate expectations back down a little bit, and move on. Michigan's not at a point where any win against any Big Ten team is one to freak out about. The freshmen quarterbacks remain freshmen and it's becoming clear that the defense has about the same raw talent level that last year's offense had. The only thing keeping them from plunging off a deep, dark cliff is the fact that no position on defense is as singularly important as quarterback is on offense.
A couple may be as undermanned, though. Indiana's potentially-crushing, one-play, 85-yard riposte to Tate Forcier's first attempt at fourth quarter heroics exposed the secondary's talent deficiency in a way even starker than Michigan fans were treated to against Notre Dame. At least when Michael Floyd and Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen were running wild you could point to torched opponents past and recruiting rankings and drooling NFL scouts. Seeing an Indiana freshman zip past not only the walk-on safety gamely pretending he doesn't run a 4.8 but the scholarship, potentially-starting cornerback not named Donovan Warren was alarming. If JT Floyd is going to play corner in the Big Ten he's going to do it ten yards off the line of scrimmage.
This is how bad it is: I'm not even mad at Floyd when a player gets vastly open or he commits a silly, unnecessary pass interference penalty. I'm mad at Tyrone Willingham, metaphorically. It's inconceivable that Michigan would find itself in this situation. There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback. The 2007 class provides three of the four starters and has lost Artis Chambers. 2006 saw the only two defensive back commitments (Brown and Mouton) move to linebacker. The 2005 class was Brandon Harrison (decent but did not redshirt), Johnny Sears, and Chris Richards. The recruiting malpractice everyone saw on the offensive line last year returned with a vengeance. Hell, even the 2008 class is looking like a disappointment: Brandon Smith is a linebacker; Cissoko and Floyd have been the weak link on a defense that's played three walk-ons extensively. Very little of that is Rodriguez's doing.**
The parallels between this year's secondary and last year's offensive line, on and off the field, are striking, and it's not like linebackers not named Stevie Brown are helping out much. Michigan's recruiting was wildly deficient in more than one area and will be an anchor going forward, basically until such time as the roster is full and the creaky last few Carr classes are no longer weighing down the top of the roster.
We should forestall complaining about Robinson and Tony Gibson and even Jay Hopson, who I've complained about personally, if somewhat obliquely, because there are excellent reasons why their units are performing poorly that have nothing to do with whether or not they can coach. Gibson was the guy who turned Ryan Mundy from a guy with an uncomplimentary stat (Yards After Mundy) named after him into an NFL draft pick. West Virginia's pass efficiency defense in the final few years of Rodriguez's time there: 28th, 63rd, 30th, 20th. There's plenty of evidence that Rodriguez isn't dealing with morons here, and plenty that suggests late-era Carr recruiting was. I'm stashing the torches and pitchforks away, hoping that the rest of the season follows a trajectory similar to that of the offense last year: baby steps towards respectability in the midst of crippling talent deficiency, followed by a second year of growth.
As always, this should be okay. It takes time to dig out from all the reasons 3-9 occurs.
*(The Hoosiers have had a few respectable teams in the intervening years, but Michigan either blew them out, lost to them (once), or missed them. Closest thing to a close win against a respectable team was '91, when Indiana was 7-4-1 and M won 24-16.)
**(Smith and Floyd did commit to Michigan after Rodriguez was named head coach but those players were widely considered locks for months before the coaching transition took place. And please note the criticism here is not necessarily of Smith (or Mouton or Brown) but the recruiting practices that failed to take their likely moves to linebacker into account. Floyd, for his part, might be a functional safety if he wasn't needed at corner.)
- You know, I was sort of coming around to the piped in music but no more. I should never have said anything negative about the band, I take it all back, I believe the piped-in music to be an abomination, and curse anyone who voted in favor of said abomination during this site's earlier poll. The end of the first half was close to my idea of hell, with the evil homunculus responsible for the ear-piercing noise pollution blasting something stupid in-between every play. During the video review, I found myself so enraged at the piped in music that I fruitlessly gave the bird to the idiot playing Bob Seger at painful volume. I went to a concert later that night and the volume level there was considerably less ear-damaging.
It's just unpleasant to hear a probably-terrible song at volume levels 130% of what the speaker system can actually handle. Turn it down. Turn it off. Stop alienating the people who really care about Michigan's traditions and stop catering to the folk who can't distinguish Michigan Stadium from an ECHL arena. It does not help anything.
In fact, it actively stops cheers. The students were chanting "Go Blue" at each other during one point and the evil homunculus played over it. The evil homunculus plays AC/DC over what used to be a bass drum pounding out a beat to which the stadium chanted "Let's Go Blue." It has gone from somewhat tolerable to Michigan State in four weeks, and must be destroyed. I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised that the marketing wing of the Michigan athletic department would be so deaf to tradition. Mostly, I'm appalled. Piped-in music is a disaster and should be stopped immediately. (Note: MVictors mentioned it too, though Greg's not as ready to draw and quarter people. That is because he is soft. I am the Dwead Piwate Woberts, I have come for your souls.)
- Didn't expect the official site to out a guy on the 85-yard Indiana touchdown but here you go:
On Indiana's 85-yard touchdown run to take the lead in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen came off the field distraught after a blown assignment. He was taken aside by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and then sat on the team bench with his head sagging. "You flush it and you come back and play," Robinson yelled down the line. "You don't need to be a hero."
As I recall it I watched a 215 pound Indiana tailback outrun not only a walk-on safety (depressing that guy has to play but understandable) but a scholarship cornerback; if Van Bergen had problems he wasn't the only one. Also, Van Bergen was the backside defensive tackle… it's hard to imagine what his assignment was that could have prevented Indiana from running outside the other OT.
- Interception or not, why the hell did Indiana throw at Donovan Warren? Why the hell would anyone throw at Donovan Warren the rest of the year? Opponents have now lost two close games because they threw at Donovan Warren. Sooner or later they will stop doing this, I think.
After the game, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson confirmed that Cissoko’s absence was a coach’s decision. “Yeah, it was,” Robinson said. “I thought, J.T., at first, was a little nervous but as the game wore on he grew more and more comfortable and did a good job, really held his own.”
I thought that Cissoko had gotten pulled because he had picked up an injury. He did come out for a play or two earlier, and when an Indiana receiver ran straight past him without so much as a head fake I figured it was a hamstring pull or something. Apparently not. Er. That's not good. I'd rather there was some explanation for Cissoko getting smoked other than… well… you know. Not being good at football.
- Attn: Tate. Plz stop doing this plz:
It reminds me of Ryan Mallett and makes me want to die a little. Please continue all of your other activities except running around in the pocket too much.
Maize 'n' Brew has some Zapruder-quality "I took pictures of my TV" stills of the aforementioned Warren interception. They make a decent case the call was correct, if spectacularly close and improbable. I'm waiting for the HD video before I make any proclamation either way.
Doctor Saturday notes that Michigan and Notre Dame aren't exactly establishing themselves dominant powers in the wake of their entertaining week two matchup:
the question after Indiana's 467-yard, 33-point barrage Saturday is "Who isn't going to put up huge yards on the Wolverines?" The Hoosiers -- dead last in the Big Ten in every significant offensive aspect last year -- went on long marches and hit big plays alike (an 85-yard touchdown run and a 56-yard completion to set up another score) and might have been on their way to more points if the officials had seen Donovan Warren's clinching interception differently on IU's final drive. The Wolverines are 89th nationally in total defense and 92nd against the pass, slightly worse than last year's numbers for the year and significantly worse than their 2-2 start in September. There is no comparison between the offenses, but the progress of the Michigan D (or lack thereof) puts a real crimp in the prospective rise in the Big Ten. The fact is, resetting expectations after the first month, neither of these teams has put much separation between preseason expectations and their prospects for the season.
It's hard to dispute; even if Michigan's offense is ahead of preseason projections I don't think anyone had them giving up almost 500 yards to Indiana on defense. Michigan may be slightly ahead of what seemed like a universal 7-5 preseason consensus, but it's mostly because they've turned one coin-flip game in their favor and the Big Ten has looked slightly more moribund than even their recent standards.
Mike DiSimone has his weekly comprehensive picture roundup.
|Last week's ballot|
This week, I totally scrapped what I had before, and went by a strict-ish resume ranking. The table I used can be seen after the jump. There are some big movers.
- Virginia Tech: They have two of the best wins in the country, plus their only loss was at a neutral site to my #1 team.
- Houston: Knocking off a second BCS opponent (one expected to be pretty good, if not contend for a conference title) sees them jump up a bit.
- Iowa: The win over Penn State finally gives them a victory big enough to warrant a top spot on the blogpoll. They're also one of the few teams in the country with wins over 3 BCS conference teams.
- LSU: They also have 3 wins over BCS foes, though none as impressive as Iowa's.
- Oklahoma State: I'm not sure how I feel about them rising. I guess the loss to Houston is a little more excusable since the Cougars are looking like legit competition so far. Oklahoma State still just has one big win over a "meh" Georgia team and then a couple cupcakes.
- Cal: They were rocked by Oregon. Given the circumstances, I may even drop them a little closer to Oregon in the poll. However, they have two wins over BCS-level competition (as much as Maryland and Minnesota can be described as such), including one away at a sucky time for a West Coast team.
Anything else need to be explained or changed? Let me know.
This week's lines just came out. Here's the Michigan-Michigan State one:
Urgh. Here's why Forcier is questionable:
There's another one if you want it. I watched Forcier go off the field holding his arm awkwardly. It may be bruised heavily. It may be sprained. According to one long-time poster who ran into him Saturday night, it's the latter:
…he said he has a AC joint sprain and a big bruise. He said he injured himself like this before in high school and he couldn't throw until Friday of that week.
He was in obvious pain and wouldn't shake anyones hand with his right arm. We'll see, but its a little more serious than just a "bruise". That being said, he looked fine throwing the ball on that last TD pass to Odoms.
1577 points and more than a year registered. This is not a drive-by.
Sprains can be weird; you can operate with them okay immediately afterwards only to wake up the next day virtually unable to move the joint because of all the swelling. Forcier's touchdown to Odoms is no assurance he'll be fine for next week. Medical-talkin' guys on the internet on AC joint sprains:
If you don't need surgery, range-of-motion exercises should be started as pain eases, followed by a program of strengthening. At first, exercises are done with the arm kept below shoulder level. The program advances to include strength exercises for the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles. In most cases, the pain goes away almost completely within three weeks. Full recovery can take up to six weeks for grade two separations and up to 12 weeks for grade three separations. Since there is little danger of making the condition worse, you can usually do whatever activities you can tolerate.
Given the lack of concern expressed by both Rodriguez and Forcier in the aftermath of the Indiana game, it's probably a Grade 1 AC joint sprain that isn't a huge deal. The above link indicates that treatment for these sorts of injuries is "pain medications and a short period of rest using a shoulder sling." Don't expect Forcier to do any throwing most of the week; do expect his name on Thursday's injury report, probably as, yes, "questionable."
I bet he at least gives it a go. If there's no chance playing with it makes the thing worse, he can take a painkilling injection and be okay. There's some probability he's noticeably affected by it, though, and we should expect to see more Denard Robinson.
One of the nation's top punters has committed to Michigan, which like, hooray. Informative update coming a little bit later.
Will Hagerup is a 6-4 punter from Wisconsin who is now committed to be a Michigan Wolverine.
|3*, #3 P||3*, #4 K||4*, 79, #3 K|
While Hagerup is Rivals's #4 kicker, the top three guys are all expected to kick, not punt, in college. He's their #1 punter. Why does Rivals get so specific as to separate scatbacks from tailbacks in their rankings, but can't differentiate punters from kickers? Beats the hell out of me.
Hagerup was the #2 punter at a regional kicking camp this summer, and came in for a bit of praise:
Looking more like a tight end prospect, Hagerup's continued physical growth could strengthen his already strong leg and delivery. One of the things Hagerup -- who holds offers from programs like Florida, Purdue, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan -- said college coaches note that they like about him is his size. The sought-after punter did not come into the camp complacent. He finished second in the charting and battled until the end in the punt competition, proving why he is one of the top punting prospects in the 2010 class.
He is Chris Sailer's #3 punter in the class, and Sailer (predictably) only has nice things to say about him:
William is a very solid punter. He is big, tall, strong and athletic. He has all the tools to be an outsanding college punter. Steadily improving player that is showing that he has what it takes to be one of the very best punters in this class! Also has the ability to kick.
ESPN really likes the kid, and if you know anything about kicking or punting (I don't), their evaluation might have some meaning to you:
He has had multiple great performances at Kohl's kicking camp and he can hit punts that have more than a five second hang time. His drop table is low and his leg swing is consistent and straight. Hagerup gets great toe depression on his punts, has proven himself in pressure situations and may also be able to kick off in college.
Yay for low drop table and great toe depression. Hagerup is a serious prospect, and a consensus top guy in the class, as will be evidenced by the...
Hagerup had as many offers as you can possibly expect a kicking specialist to receive. Among many, many others, his finalists were Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Florida. Considering the weight Urban Meyer puts on special teams, that last one is a biggie.
High school stats probably aren't super-relevant for a high school kicker, but Hagerup attended several camps in the summer before his senior year, during which he averaged 44.5 yards per kick, with a 4.39 second hang time. His size (6-4, 215) is apparently also a big draw for college coaches.
FAKE 40 TIME
Punters don't have 40 times (at least not relevant ones), but Will Hagerup is not your average punter. He's listed at 4.8 on Scout, which doesn't sound too particularly FAKE. However, that is a pretty impressive time for a kicking specialist (and puts him on par with JT Floyd... ZING!), so I will give it one FAKE out of three.
Punters don't have highlight reels, so... wait, what? The Will Hagerup highlight reel:
This is obviously the film that he sent to coaches—note the contact information at the end (I said "note" not "creepily use")—and features him punting, kicking, and playing corner(!). Rodriguez offered a scholarship as soon as he heard the AC/DC kick in.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Well, this should be easy. Zoltan (praised be His name) is on his way out of town following the 2009 season, and Hagerup will hit campus immediately thereafter. He is the "most college-ready" punter in the class, so he should be able to step right in and become the starter.
There don't appear to be any real options for redshirting him, unless Gibbons or Wright was to be the starting punter next year. Since Gibbons is the kicker, and Rodriguez clearly wants to have separate specialists for each role (see: offering a scholarship to a punter when you have a freshman kicker waiting in the wings), Hagerup is your man.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Hagerup was the only serious option for a scholarship punter in the class. The staff missed out on in-state Mike Sadler because they were waiting on Hagerup. They got their man. He'll be the only specialist in the class of 2010.
Etc.: His older brother is the punter for Indiana, which you may recall from this weekend.
|WHAT||#19 Michigan vs Indiana|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||12:00 EST, September 26th, 2008|
|THE LINE||Michigan -21|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on ESPN2|
|WEATHER||Mid 60s w/ slight chance of rain|
Run Offense vs. Indiana
Indiana's defense is currently 15th nationally, albeit after a steady diet of dink-and-dunk MAC teams and one I-AA opponent that's not even the most prominent directional school in its state. (Western Kentucky won a I-AA national title a few years ago and is I-A's newest member. You may remember them from such mascots as "oh my god is that a walking zit.")
The numbers to date, sacks omitted:
*(Western also had two "team" rushes for –22 yards. Those were either kneel-downs or horrible snaps over the punters head that result in a safety (just guessing) and are also omitted.)
Despite the raw numbers, that probably doesn't bode well against an offense that just blew up for 380 yards against Eastern Michigan and had 5.5 YPC against Notre Dame the week before. Indiana beat writer Chris Korman on the defensive line:
Indiana has five defensive tackles that play but none of them played a snap at the position before the season. One is a true freshman, three are redshirt freshmen and another here moved over from the offensive line. Their linebackers are average at best, (Tyler) Replogle is a pretty good rush linebacker but otherwise they have guys who run themselves out of position, aren’t exactly as big as you’d want a Big Ten linebacker to be so it’s just not there. Like you said, they get gashed a lot and they haven’t played a real good running team. Akron just had no running attack and that’s where that game got away from them. But Michigan and those big backs, you just wonder how Indiana is going to stop them. They haven’t stopped someone who wanted to run the ball since I’ve been here, three years. They’ve never put it down and stopped a team.
So maybe it's more relevant that Indiana was 91st in rushing defense last year. They were 35th after three weeks against—hey!—Western Kentucky, Murray State, and about-to-be-rampant-through-the-MAC Ball State. How did that work out? In their never-ending quest to wear Javon Ringer's legs down to tiny nubs, Michigan State went for 236 yards on 52 carries. So… yeah. For the 15th-ranked rushing defense they are not exactly intimidating.
Michigan, meanwhile, is now the #3 rushing offense in the country after that aforementioned yardage explosion against Eastern. That probably won't last and Michigan would do well to come vaguely near those numbers even against a defense as apparently young and undermanned as Indiana's.
Complicating matters is the broken bone in center David Molk's foot, which will see him miss the next 4-6 weeks. Michigan will slide RG David Moosman to center, RT Mark Huyge to guard, and insert Perry Dorrestein at RT. Last week Moosman's absence saw John Ferrara enter the lineup at RG, so maybe there was some discontent with Ferrara's play? Either that or Michigan's noticed that Huyge isn't great in pass protection but is a thumping run blocker and is experimenting with an arrangement that minimizes his weaknesses and maximizes his strengths. Dorrestein was functional as an injury replacement a year ago. There will be some hiccups here as two guys move to new positions and another draws into the lineup. Moosman might get replaced, too, as he missed last week with a shoulder issue that Michigan won't want to chance aggravating.
All that said, Michigan should expect to put up the 5.5 they did against Notre Dame at the very least on a day that figures to be a bewildering array of handoffs they've already shown.
Key Matchup: Probably David Moosman versus Being David Molk. I've long been a proponent of the leetle center's skills and fit in the offense. This week is the first of 4-6 without his services; if Molk can provide a reasonable facsimile it will be encouraging for the future.
Pass Offense vs. Indiana
Is there going to be one? Will there have to be one? Eh… maybe. This section of the game contains the most favorable matchup for the Hoosiers, as they have a pair of veteran defensive ends somewhere between competent and All Big Ten. Back to Korman—here he's responding to the question "how does Indiana win"?
Oh, uh, it would have to be, really have to be, the two defensive ends are really the key. If they can get some consistent pressure, shake up Michigan’s offense, get to the young quarterbacks and certainly Michigan is going to be smart enough to try and run the ball a lot but if Indiana can get a few stops and then force a 3rd-and-long and you go back and get to the quarterback and that makes it a lot easier.
Indiana did pick off Akron four times, but their starting quarterback was out that game and the backup is not Tate Forcier. I don't think Michigan will give Indiana the opportunity to tee off on Forcier. What throws they do make will be heavily screen and rollout based, and since the rollouts all come off the zone read Indiana will be forced to abandon the scrape exchange (which doesn't work all that well, especially when your defensive tackles are all freshmen) or eliminate their defensive ends from quarterback duty.
The Indiana secondary was horrible, horrible, horrible last year, for what it's worth: IU finished 106th in pass efficiency D and 105th in yardage despite those defensive ends getting the Hoosiers up to 26th in sacks. IU's leading receiver from last year was moved into the secondary in an attempt to staunch the bleeding, but that only opens IU up to MGoBlog season preview heuristic #2: if you move someone to another position and then start him, that position group is a disaster zone. So, yeah, disaster zone. When Michigan passes, guys will be open, with chance of long pass increasing because of potential ineptitude.
Key Matchup: Michigan tackles versus the IU defensive ends. If, oh, uh, Indiana's going to be a threat it'll be because they've crushed the precious in the backfield.
Run Defense vs. Indiana
Ah, the frightening bit. Indiana lines up in the pistol and, according to "Behind The Schemes" on the Big Ten Network, has run 44 of 46 rushing plays on which they have a tight end to the tight end side.* That might be a setup for some counters or whatever, but it'll be interesting to see if Michigan responds to this by aligning Mike Martin and Brandon Graham to the strong side of the defense consistently. Last week EMU aligned in a fashion that caused Michigan to expose the Roh/Van Bergen side of the line to an overloaded TE-heavy front, and it was from this that Eastern gained a lot of their rushing yards. Clearly, opponents will be gameplanning ways to attack the lighter side of Michigan's line; watch for potential Michigan ripostes to this.
Indiana's vaunted… okay, not vaunted. Maybe "over-discussed." Indiana's over-discussed pistol formation is supposed to be a pounding up-the-middle sort of run game which features big linemen and runs up the gut from hefty backs—both of Indiana's guys are in the 215 range—but it hasn't exactly excelled so far. After three games against poor competition, Indiana is the #65 rushing attack in the country and is averaging four yards a rush. Unfortunately, Michigan hasn't been much better. They're #56 against the rush and gave up 179 yards to Eastern Michigan last week at 3.7 yards a pop. Notre Dame shredded Michigan for 5.1 yards a carry.
Expecting Michigan to shut down just about any rushing attack seems foolhardy at this point. What you're looking for is something resembling improvement from the linebackers, I think, as the defensive line isn't suddenly going to have another offseason of Barwis under its belt any time soon.
*(Apparently. I didn't know the show existed, so I'm taking that from a message board report.)
Key Matchup: Ryan Van Bergen against Interior Double Teams. RVB has had a tough time holding up against doubles so far; improvement from him would be encouraging going into a couple games against tough-minded Big Ten sorts.
Pass Defense vs. Indiana
Last week Michigan went up against a quarterback who threw around 30 time a game for under 200 yards, averaged under six yards an attempt, and gave off the distinct aura of an inconsistent dink-and-dunk sort without the offensive line or receivers to challenge deep or break short stuff long.
There was an explosion against EKU, but even if I'm down on this defense I'm not ready to pretend a mediocre I-AA team is in any way a useful comparison to Michigan even if Mike Williams's sprained ankle will hold him out this weekend (he's a "game time decision" but was listed as doubtful on this week's injury report), paving the way for yet another game in which a walk-on is on the field for virtually every defensive snap. Hello long sentences.
Anyway: Indiana's main receiving threats are a couple of guys on the outside who are sort of anonymous, not huge, not short, not shifty. They're just guys. Tandon Doss is the leading receiver and I'm only bringing up the receivers' names because the second prime guy is the spectacularly-named Damarlo Belcher. Doss will probably draw Warren, as he's already got 21 receptions on the year and looks to be the prime downfield threat.
Key Matchup: Brandon Graham versus Life Hates Brandon Graham.
Zoltan was back to his usual ways and Olesnavage bounced back from shanking a short one against Notre Dame to hit a FG of moderate distance. Indiana's special teams are okay.
One prime annoyance from last game: Greg Mathews gave away at least 50 yards of field position against Eastern by not fielding catching easy balls.I know we don't want to fumble, but those were bad decisions.
Key Matchup: HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
21-point spreads against Indiana do not get kittens, but here's something else:
- Michigan decides to test their tackles against the IU DEs and comes up short.
- The infirmary list gets any longer.
- Denard continues to struggle throwing the ball.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- David Moosman looks like an adequate replacement for Molk.
- We get a new punt returner.
- There is not massive regression on all fronts.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 out of 10. (Baseline 5, –1 for Probably Don't Even Have To Throw To Win, –1 for And For That Statement The Ghost Of Bo Will Smile Fortune Upon Us, –1 for No, Seriously, Their Defensive Tackles Are All Freshman And Converts, –1 for And Even If We Do Throw We Can Do That Now, –1 for Indiana Doesn't Even Have Their One Scary Guy This Year, +1 for But We Are The Sort Of Team That Starts A Walk-On).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for Remember Last Week, Yeah All That Stuff Goes For This Week, +1 for Let's Re-establish That This Is Michigan, Okay, And Does Not Lose To Poor Versions of Indiana, +1 for I Like Being Happy, +1 for Seriously, It's Nice, +1 for Mmmmm Serotonin.)
Loss will cause me to... drive to Mexico at the head of a caravan of escapees, screaming "FOLLOW ME TO FREEDOM."
Win will cause me to... shrug.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Remember what happened last week? Yeah, that. I guess the spread is a field goal closer.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Brandon Graham never sacks anyone again.
- Michael Shaw cracks 100 yards.
- People start seriously speculating as to whether a walk-on is a better safety than the Michigan version of Ryan Mundy was.
- Denard completes 50% of his passes again, except this time the ones that get caught get caught by the right guys.
- Michigan, 42-17.
Next year Manny Harris will either be a senior or in the NBA, and we all kind of hope it's the NBA because that will mean he played at a high level and blew up the idea that John Beilein can't develop players for a career at the highest level. Michigan will then have zero Manny Harrises on the roster unless one of two high-profile wing recruits Chooses Wisely. One is local guy Trey Ziegler, the son of CMU's basketball coach, but his decision is a long way off. He'll decide in the spring.
The other is Tennessee's Casey Prather, who plans to make a decision in the next couple weeks. Prather's taken trips to Clemson, Florida, and Michigan. He also lives next door to Vandy and has been on a ton of unofficials there. Those teams represent his final four. In the past week, these things have happened:
- Sam Webb said Michigan was "the team to beat" on WTKA a few days ago. This is not the same as a strong, strong, strong gut feeling but Sam is not a guy who says things like that lightly.
- Webb wrote an article for the Detroit News that briefly touches on 2011 commitment Carlton Brundidge and then goes into serious detail about Prather's recruitment. Money quote amongst a bevy of potential selections:
"(Rating Michigan's recruitment of Prather) on a scale of 1- 10, I would say a 12," said Jackson North Side coach Tony Brown. "I've seen more Michigan coaches at games. Michigan has been there through thick and thin. I can't say that every other school, in my opinion, showed. The head coach, he flew down to Fayette-Ware when we were in the district tournament. I was impressed then because Fayette-Ware is in the middle of nowhere. When I came out of the locker room, I looked up and there was Coach B. He was just displaying that proud M symbol on his sweats."
- Prather decided against a Vanderbilt official visit.
- Clemson cancelled a scheduled in-home visit and did not reschedule.
- John Beilein made his in-home.
- Prather's AAU coach posted this to twitter:
Potentially I could have two guys play in Big Ten Country but are living in SEC Land...Parity at its best, I love it!
And whats funny about that is, both guys are known for putting up good offensive numbers but Big Ten is known for grind'em out games that are won on the defensive end. Not that Hollins and Prather won't guard your butt but they're both so skilled offensively.
None of this is definitive, of course, but the tea leaves suggest that it's either Florida or Michigan. There's been some Florida chatter but look at the News article. It's packed with quotes from coaches and Prather's father. Webb's close to the situation, and the article he wrote up came from the same conversation that caused him to call Michigan the team to beat—with precious little time to beat them—on the radio. And Prather's AAU coach didn't quite say Prather was in the bag… but… yeah… quite. I'm thinking the "Beilein cannot recruit" meme will be lying in tatters soon.