LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
(@ Hey Jenny Slater)
1. We're just a few weeks away from the end of the regular season, so everybody should have a pretty good handle on how good their teams are and what sort of records they can expect to finish with. Looking back over the season, which was the game where your team really defined itself in 2006, for good or ill? Or to look at it another way, which game, win or loss, was most representative of your team's attitude and style of play this season?
Every year since I have been a Michigan fan, the offseason promise has been to ditch the two-gap plugging in favor of a vicious, attacking front that you daren't leave a football within 100 yards of. It has never happened. Even last year when we got a new defensive line coach who looked exactly like Sargeant Slaughter, the line underwhelmed. Gabe Watson was out of shape and unmotivated. Pat Massey was completely useless. One end was a revolving door filled somewhat adequately by an out-of-position Alan Branch. Lamarr Woodley was good but far from dominant. We were never, ever going to get the line promised to us.
Hints that things were changing came against Vanderbilt -- six sacks and a generally terror-inspiring performance -- but the line was a nonfactor against Central Michigan and doubts arose. Crushing Vandy's offensive line meant nothing. Notre Dame's lethal west-coast attack and veteran offensive line awaited. Three hours later, Brady Quinn had been battered into pretty goo and Michigan 2006 had been defined. The offense has oscillated wildly, but the Michigan defense established itself as a badass unit far removed from the Herrmann years.
Also, we won a road opener!
2. Are there any teams you think are still hugely overrated? What about underrated?
Can someone explain to me the differences between the resumes of Notre Dame and Texas?
- Thorough beating at the hands of Big Ten power. (Ohio State/Michigan)
- Two narrow escapes from mediocre or worse teams. (Nebraska & TTech/MSU & UCLA)
- Solid win over top-20-ish team (Oklahoma/Georgia Tech)
- Pounding of mediocre team. (Oklahoma State/Penn State)
- Meaningless wins over dregs of college football.
The answer to my rhetorical question is "no, because there is none." If you want to pick nits I guess MSU turned out to be worse than either Nebraska or Texas Tech and the margin of victory against Oklahoma was greater, though heavily turnover-aided. I'll drag out this ol' chestnut: Oklahoma outgained Texas something like 300-200. If Texas' resume is more impressive it's incremental.
But Texas is #3 in the coaches poll and Notre Dame hovers towards the bottom of the top ten. It's confusing. I guess it is possible that Texas is much better than ND is, but shouldn't there be some evidence of that by now? (Please don't let this be construed as an argument in favor of ND. They're placed about right, IMO. I'm just missing what the BFD is about Texas.)
Since I'm having difficulty ranking anyone past about #12, I am not too incensed about potentially underrated teams.
3. Did your team play any Division I-AA opponents this year? If so, do you think it benefited your team at all? If you were a coach or an NCAA official, what policy would you have toward scheduling D-IAAs?
Michigan's never scheduled a I-AA team and likely never will, preferring to load up on MAC teams when it's time for snackycake. The ability to schedule I-AA teams is an abomination and should be abolished. The NCAA should do everything in its power to limit the ability of teams to schedule non-competitive teams, and eliminating I-AA sacrifices is a logical and necessary first step.
4. Which not-a-typical-national-powerhouse team (i.e. no Ohio States or USCs) has played well enough this year to set themselves up for a breakout season in '07?
Doug cites Rutgers and Missouri in this category, which is... uh... odd. Is 8-0 not a breakout year for Rutgers? Rutgers done broke out already. Missouri less so but they're going to end up around 8-4 or something this year, and how much better do they get after that?
Meanwhile in the land of actually answering the question: I am sorely tempted to take Illinois, given that an Illini "breakout" at this point would be a Motor City Bowl bid. But... no. Juice Williams is still light-years away from being a respectable passer and Zook's inexplicable ability to recruit stars from wherever to the moribund Illinois program won't pay dividends until his first recruiting class has been around for at least a couple years. Put me down for an Illinois revival, but in 2008.
Further exploring the dregs of the Big Ten: Northwestern has found a quarterback in CJ Bacher and will probably return to scratching out bowl bids as soon as next year. They'll rebound from this tragedy-induced low. Whoever ends up Michigan State's next coach will walk into a situation far from unsalvageable. Javon Ringer, Brian Hoyer, and freshman wideout TJ Williams make a good offensive nucleus and there should be more depth and strength on the offensive line. Defensively? Well... nevermind.
5. Take a look at your team's bowl prospects this season. Which bowl(s) do you think you have a reasonable shot of ending up in? Of the teams you might likely face in a bowl, which team would you most want to play and why (maybe you've always wanted to see how your team would match up with them, maybe there's an old score you want to settle, or maybe you just want to finish the season with an easy win)? Conversely, which potential opponent would you really like to avoid in a bowl game?
Assuming we get past Indiana, win @ OSU == MNC game. Lose == Rose Bowl. Michigan's best matchup in the MNC game went by the wayside when WVU went down. Of the remaining reasonable possibilities, anyone who has trouble passing would be best: Arkansas, Rutgers, and Florida. If we're in the Rose there's a 95% chance we'll face the winner of the Cal/USC game so speculating there is pointless.
As for avoiding: rematches. If Michigan beats OSU @ OSU there's no way the Bucks should get a MNC game berth unless there are absolutely no other possibilities. Ditto for Notre Dame. Cal, USC, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, and Louisville would all have to lose to open up a door for either team, IMO, and the chances of that are remote at best.
(Note that desire to avoid rematch goes out the window in the vent of a Michigan loss versus OSU.)
6. In a roundtable question during the off-season, we were asked whom you'd pick if your current coach fell deathly ill and you had to select another coach to lead your team to victory. Let's turn this around and imagine that you've somehow schemed your way onto the search committee to select your biggest rival's next head coach. Which rival would that be, and which coaching sooper genius would you try to stick them with?
This is an odd question for a Michigan fan, because all three of Michigan's rivals have perfect answers who happen to be old coaches. Sooper genius away:
- Michigan State: Bobby Williams, natch. Managed to turn Jeff Smoker and Charles Rogers into 3-8. Possibly the only coach in history to look like he was about to cry every moment of every loss.
- Notre Dame: a tough choice between Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie, but probably Davie. Willingham made Stanford competitive and is currently improving a Washington program that had bottomed out. His brief tenure at Notre Dame featured the transition from Carlyle Holiday, Jarious Jackson, and the option to a West Coast attack that was severely hampered by a freshman quarterback. He could actually be a decent coach. Davie, on the other hand, got his full five years and failed.
- Ohio State: John Cooper. He still pops up on ESPN+ pregam
e and halftime shows where the obsequeous talking head always calls him "Coach." Coach of what?
Ohio State could do much worse than John Cooper -- his Buckeye teams were powers year-in and year-out -- but the sheer panic would well worth it.
Ron gone? Your hackier local media types (Pat Caputo and Drew Sharp, if you're wondering) have been promoting Ron English as Sparty's next head coach, causing all sorts of mild panic amongst the Internet fanbase. Personally, I gave little credence to the idea even when the LSJ picked it up and message board insiders rumbled about it: English is a lose-lose proposition for Michigan State. If he fails, he fails and the school looks ridiculous for hiring a guy with one year of experience as a coordinator. If he succeeds, he's going to get snapped up by Michigan or some other school as quick as you can say "Saban." As a young, dynamic recruiter Without any ties to Michigan State or the area, a better job offer would come quickly and be accepted. Sure, there's a Citrus bowl in there somewhere for you but the chances of a Ron English coaching tenure long enough to be called an "Era" are zero.
So this isn't much of a surprise, though you might want to look upon it with a skeptical eye, as I'm pretty sure Roger Brown is Cleveland's Rob Parker:
Look for Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to become the No. 1 candidate for Michigan State's head-coaching job when John L. Smith leaves after this season - provided that former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci, a Michigan native, turns down the MSU job. Grantham was a Michigan State assistant coach from 1996 to 1998.
Creepy quote from Bo on his recent hospital visit:
"When I was in the ambulance, I've got to admit, I wasn't so sure ... that I'd make it. I really wasn't," Schembechler told The Detroit News. "I was thinking, 'This thing is going to take me.' I snapped back out of that."
Of note: Bo's 77, the same age as Bobby Bowden and two years younger than Joe Paterno. His retirement could be featured on "I Love The 80s."
Projected line for OSU: -7? That was before this weekend's close calls, but there you go:
"My first thought would be Ohio State -8 or -8 Â½," says professional oddsmaker Keith Glantz. "But that would probably be a 'take' with the wise guys so maybe OSU -7 Â½ would be better. Make that -7 if wide receiver (Mario) Manningham returns 100 percent for the game."
If that seems high you're not alone:
"To me a 7 or 7 Â½ looks high, but it is consistent with what we have seen all season â€“ Michigan has generated more profits for us than any other Division I team, and the betting markets still do not realize how good they are," says Covers Expert David Malinsky. "A 'true' line based on the abilities of the teams, and not the public perceptions, would be around -4 or -4 Â½. I expect to see it in the -6 range at kickoff."
Etc.: Michgian Monday blows off last weekend entirely; the Indianapolis Star takes a look at the Big Ten's refusal to schedule games after Thanksgiving; What The Deuce looks at the NW game and summarizes the case against boredom.
Saw: WVU-UL; Michigan-Ball State (yow!); OSU-Illinois; Tenn-LSU; Texas-Okie State; Arkansas-South Carolina.
Uh... well, it's like this. Many people saw the UL-WVU game as cosmic proof that the Big East teams were terrible and utterly defense-free and said as much. Apparently none of these people vote in polls. IMO, that game was tennis where serve was broken once on West Virginia's disastrous backwards drive in the third quarter that ended with a shanked punt returned for an easy touchdown. Many of Louisville's yards came on wide-open post routes over the middle -- 'Eer linebackers are apparently prohibited from not biting viciously on even the most token of play fakes -- they could not even think about stopping Steve Slaton, and only a fluky spree of turnovers gave them the comfortable margin they maintained by holding serve against the aforementioned bitin' linebackers.
Are both these teams real good? Yes. Are they incredibly good? Well... maybe. I am less eager to punish WVU and elevate UL for a game that seemed virtually equal both in yardage and my head.
No doubt a controversial minority will elevate UL over Michigan because of the close game against Ball State, ignoring the other nine games both teams have played and, for that matter, the Ball State game itself, in which Michigan outgained BSU by 200 yards and was only threatened because of a dogged determination to rest the starters before the game was actually put away. Hell, while you're at elevating Louisville to heights undreamt, why not put them #1? After all, Illinois is just about as bad as Ball State and OSU was actually outgained by the Illini.
UL at #2 is movement for movement's sake.
Arkansas runs a high school offense, but I mean that in the nicest way possible. Somehow they've cobbled together a system that takes a non-functional quarterback and three completely insane athletes (Marcus Monk, Darren McFadden, and Felix Jones) and gets them running past stunned defenders via some strange formation and playcall alchemy that turns inevitably-doomed Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draws into actually surprising quarterback sweeps, counters, reverses, options, and the like. The overall effect is a low-rent system flooded with electricity in the form of impossibly fast guy and the hazy memory of a Division-C state championship game from long ago.
They still don't have a quarterback. But I'm sold anyway.
- Auburn! I'm tired of your close calls against mediocre opponents. I'm tired of your three-score loss to a team I had ranked below you. You're down five, and don't you forget it.
- I think I need to restore BC somewhere late.
I guess just for completeness... most people watching will probably be away from home.
Update: Briefish thoughts @ The Fanhouse. Obviously not thrilled but unless Sears and Stewart are our starting cornerbacks in two weeks I don't think it has much relevance to Ohio State. Michigan's big weakness under Carr has always been treating inferior teams like they're full of retarded Armenian six-year-olds instead of actual players, lip-service or no. Lifting the starters as early as Carr did was ridiculous.
But does that have any bearing on Armageddon? Not really. A suggestion, though: let's catch the damn passes Henne throws.
Note: Comment moderation has been enabled. I don't think it's any secret that the signal to noise ratio has gotten hideously low in recent weeks and this is an endeavor to change that. Anything I think is going to lead to noise will stew in limbo. Anything really angry is in that category, as is anything posted by Buckeyes that does not specifically strike my fancy as useful. I'm tired of being condescended to by people who couldn't spell their name in three tries. I'm tired of wading through a bunch of crap. So no more crap.
Upshot: if your comment doesn't appear right away it's being held. Things should get back to normal after the OSU game.
Tomorrow being senior day, MGoBlog presents haiku in commemoration of those graduating. You might want to get a box of kleenex for this. Make it two.
#3, P Ross Ryan
Once I thought you were
Kevin Grady but no more
As you hit harder
#4, CB Darnell Hood
Somebody dug up
Your modeling pictures
In brief: sex miner
#6, LB Prescott Burgess
We're all glad Clarett
Stole your girlfriend, no offense
Because you now kick ass
#9, S Anton Campbell
Hey: kickoff coverage
Is the noble art of speed
Applied to face masks
#15, WR Steve Breaston
A wind through the trees
Line-drive punt tumbling earthward
Who would need a seat?
(Addendum: BLOCK THE DAMN GUNNERS.)
#17, WR Carl Tabb
'03: Avant out,
Tabb in, converting third downs.
And you're still fast.
#19, S Willis Barringer
What's wrong with your hand?
I mean, I'm seriously:
It's always broken.
#24, RB Jerome Jackson
Many lives pass without
Plunging in overtime endzone
#26, RB Alijah Bradley
You're really, really
really, really, really, real-
-ly, really quite short.
#29, CB Leon Hall
Too bad re: Woodson
Otherwise "Best corner since?"
Would be a debate.
#35, TE Brian Thompson
Reach down, snatch the ball
Hidden cog in Braylonfest
So, yeah, thanks for that
#38, ST BJ Opong-Owusu
Hey, did you know this?
An entire line
#38, K Garrett Rivas
Well, compared to
The Brabbs/Neinberg/Finley year
You're more than all right
#40, FB Obi Oluigbo
When you're coming through
Linebackers should know better
And run far away
#45, LB David Harris
On one of these days
You are going to kill someone
I'm okay with that
#50, DE Jeremy Van Alstyne
You've got Barringer's
Hands in your knees, so it's hard
to play much football
#54, C Mark Bihl
I can't think about you
Without seeing a bloody
newborn cow. So... yeah.
#56, DE Lamarr Woodley
If you were to sack
A QB with eye lasers
Only mild surprise here
#61, LS Turner Booth
You're the long snapper
I've never thought about you
Therefore: good job, Booth
#72, OT Rueben Riley
Guard? Tackle? Neither?
Say both, focus on Riley
Does what Lloyd Carr needs
#76, OT Mike Kolodziej
Sorry about the
Whatever it was. So weird.
Enjoy life despite
#89, TE Tyler Ecker
Leaping grabs, missed blocks
You can't have everything
Heal that ankle soon
#91, DE Rondell Biggs
Biggs: the anti-Watson
Arrives: nothing; leaves: starter
By sheer force of will
Have any of your own? Fire away.
Since Last Update: Status quo. I guess we are more or less officially out with Barksdale. Rumors hold that Martez Wilson, an OMG shirtless DE, is parting ways with ND and we may have a shot.
Needs: Minor. Marques Slocum will finally join the team next year. Last year's class also included four -- now five -- defensive linemen: John Ferrara, Jason Kates, Adam Patterson, Greg Banks, and Brandon Graham. All but Patterson and Graham are redshirting.
Commitments: Depending on who you listen to, Whitehall's Ryan Van Bergen is either k-rad or merely meh. Rivals gives him three stars, but R-V-B finds himself in the Scout top 100 -- a wild difference of opinion. At 6'5" and 250 pounds going into his senior season, he could end up at either end or tackle.
Prospects: Joseph Barksdale still drops Michigan's name occasionally but the chances of him ending up here are zero. At last report, DT-desperate Notre Dame had "backed off of him," which is either face-saving bull or indication that Barksdale's considerable rep is... uh... Watsonian. Rolando Melancon once listed Michigan as his leader but has backed off that stance. He's from Louisiana, too, which means it'll be difficult to pull him from the south. Devon Still and Josh Brent, a four-star-ish end and tackle, respectively, both list Michigan but have Ohio State as their leader. It's unlikley we get either.
Then there's Wilson, long thought to be a Notre Dame lock. That's no longer the case, and he'll take a look at Michigan.
Projection: We get one guy, probably someone sleeper-ish who we haven't heard of yet.
Panic: Minor, though it would be nice to pick up another player or two.
Since Last Update: Manny Abreu committed to Rutgers.
Needs: Moderate. Michigan brought in four a year ago, but Brandon Graham showed up at 270 pounds and was instantly moved to the defensive line. Quintin Patilla, Cobrani Mixon, and Obi Ezeh are redshirting.
Prospects: Floridian Ronnie St. Fleur is listed as having high interest in Michigan by both sites and was featured in a recent Wolverine article titled "St. Fleur has one on top." Draw your own conclusions. He made a soft verbal to Minnesota in July, but then backed off. He's a middling recruit but has offers from Iowa-level schools now.
Other than that... uh... Lorenzo Edwards, a former teammate of freshman WR Greg Mathews, took an official visit earlier in the year and seemed to like it quite a bit. He's another one of the safety OLB/tweeners we're stockpiling like mad.
Projection: We pick up one or two. St. Fleur, I guess, and someone else from out of the blue.
Panic: Moderate. With Graham on the DL, our LB class from last year looks... speculative. Mixon was well-regarded but Patilla and Ezeh were sleepers. Our current LB corps shows that sometimes having blue-chippers is nice: Burgess and Crable were both heavily hyped. David Harris not so much, though.
Since Last Update: Status Quo.
Needs: Vast. No cornerbacks a year ago; Harrison, Richards, and Sears the year before that. None were can't miss prospects and only Harrison has established himself as a contributor to this defense.
Commitments: Sleeper and Michigan legacy Troy Woolfolk committed at camp. Californian Zion Babb says he's been recruited as a wide receiver but is open to a position switch, and switch positions he shall.
Prospects: Ron Johnson, Ron Johnson, Ron Johnson. Dionte Allen's decision to pursue academics at Florida State leaves Michigan in a bind. They need Johnson badly. They should get him, if reports are correct, but that's what they said about Allen.
Also being heavily pursued by Michigan is Michael Williams, a California quarterback who's been down to Michigan and Notre Dame since around March. He's coming in for a visit this weekend and will decide soon thereafter. Notre Dame seems more confident than Michigan at this point but it's around 50-50, IMO.
In the "speculative" area: rumors swirl around a Dionte Allen decommit but I wouldn't get your hopes up. #1 JUCO (yeah, JUCO) Woodny Turrene is listing us. Top-100 corner Donovan Warren, also from California, officially visited and is considering us but USC is probably the favorite. Three-star Cris Hill from Virginia has the offer list of a star and will visit after the season.
Projection: We get Johnson and someone else, hopefully Williams.
Panic: Moderate trending to minor if Johnson commits. We've got the two back-end guys we wanted for depth purposes but neither seems particularly likely to bust out and be a star. The last blue-chip corner recruit we got was either Hall or Marlin Jackson, depending on your definition of blue-chip. We need another.
Since Last Update: Status quo.
Needs: Moderate. Two safeties came in in the last class but there were none the year before that.
Commitments: Indianans Jerimy Finch and Artis Chambers were both early commitments. Finch is technically a "soft" verbal, but his latest visit is to Indiana. I don't think we have much to worry about. Chambers is a three-star-ish recruit who's been forced to play quarterback for his high school team this year but will be a safety on arrival. Finch is in the Scout top 50 but only the Rivals 250
Prospects: No one on the board who's got an offer.
Projection: It's likely Michigan is finished, but if they find themselves with a spare scholarship towards the end of the year they may take a shot at someone.
Panic: Minor. Depends on whether or not Finch and Mouton, both of whom have been mentioned as potential weakside linebackers, stay at safety. Presumably at least one of them will. Michigan should be fine at safety for the next few years. Freshman Stevie Brown has been a standout on kick coverage and will probably start seeing time in the secondary next year. Mouton's redshirting.
C+, same as earlier. Van Bergen and Finch are nice recruits but whiffing on Dionte Allen still stings. Our options on the DL and at LB are few and far between. At corner a large portion of our eggs are in the basket of Ron Johnson. If he commits like most expect him to, this class will be fine but uninspiring. If he doesn't we'll be playing with makeshift corners for at least a year or two and people will be muttering about Todd Howard and such.
Commenting OUTRAGE(!) plus email on this whole Herbstreit-smack thing has been going on for a couple days. So let's address it and get it out of the way. What we're talking about:
"(Receiver Steve) Breaston can go back to whatever he's doing these days, if they could ever find a way to actually apply him in the offense. He's worthless in my mind, outside of returning a few punts. I'll say that, and he'll end up winning the game for them on Nov. 18. But he hasn't done anything since his freshman year."
The "worthless" has gotten a lot of play. I am guilty myself, putting it in the headline of my post on the matter @ The Fanhouse. It makes good distorted, headline-grabbing copy, but distorted is the key word. In context, Herbstreit's statement is clearly about Breaston's value as a football player and one that many Michigan fans have expressed themselves. It's not out of bounds or over the top or requiring censure or whatever. It's clearly exaggerated (Rose Bowl, last year's Iowa and Penn State games) and wrong, but it doesn't cross the line. If he had said "useless" this never would have spilled outside the realm of inadvisable bulletin-board material. It's poor wording and nothing else.
(Side note: what, exactly, is the way to apply a willow-thin wide receiver who's not much for catching the ball? As a third WR -- which is what he'll be once Mario returns -- he's not bad, though.)
A reader sends along a snippet from Herbstreit's chat this afternoon on this topic:
Rick (New York): When you call Steve Breaston "worthless", and promise to meet Eddie George at his restaurant for the OSU "victory party" over U-M, don't you lose your credibility as a national journalist? I bet you don't even have the guts to answer this question.
Kirk Herbstreit: (3:27 PM ET ) First of all, I did not call Steve Breaston worthless. I called his production in the Michigan offense worthless since his freshman year. That was probably said more out of frustration for Steve and wishing that he were more of a factor because of his ability to make big plays. I really regret that the newspaper painted me into a corner, making it look as if I called Steve worthless, which I never did. And I would never call any player worthless. But the facts are the facts and he has not been involved in this offense consistently since his freshman year.
Kirk Herbstreit: (3:27 PM ET ) The other thing that really ticked me off about that article was the headline that said that I feel that the Michigan defense will fail against Ohio State. I NEVER said Michigan's defense would "fail". I simply said they would not be able to dominate the Ohio State offense the way they've enjoyed dominating everybody they've played up to this point. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I'm an objective analyst, and anybody who's listened to me analyze Michigan over the last 11 years on ESPN, if they were being honest with themselves, would have to say I've always been fair to Michigan. If there's any regret that I have, it would be in using the word "worthless" to describe Breaston's productivity in the Michigan offense. That was not a term that I would ever use about a player and the person who he is. And it was clearly misconstrued, misrepresented and mean-spirited by the paper. I will continue to be objective and I will continue to enjoy seeing Michigan play well. As far as Eddie George's party, for me and my travels, I don't get a chance to see former players very often and I took Eddie's comments about a get-together as just that, win or lose that a bunch of former players were all going to get together. I hope all of the Michigan fans understand that this was clearly an attempt to paint me into a corner, as being anti-Michigan, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I've talked with Bill Martin, the Athletic Director and I have a call into coach Carr. And I'm looking forward to seeing Michigan win their next two games and I literally can't sleep because of my excitement about the Maize and Blue and Scarlet and Gray meeting to decide which of the two teams will play for the national title.
He's right, though the only thing the News did to paint him into a corner is provide a provocative headline. The rest of the article was just Herbstreit quotes provided with context. Other than that, he's right.
So can we focus on something else, like the fairly high probability something nasty will happen to me if I go to the game? And that anyone with a spare ticket or two should email me immediately?
Wonk: Back. The indispensable Big Ten Wonk has returned. He starts off his third season by talking... football?
Last year Notre Dame achieved something truly striking. They combined within one team one of the best offenses in the nation (perhaps only Texas was better) with one of the worst defenses in [a major conference]. ... In other words, not even an offense as good as Notre Dame's could overcome a defense as bad as Notre Dame's.
Oh. It turns out that the Irish basketball team has more in common with its football team than a lot of incredibly ugly white guys. Alphabetically-sensitive preseason walkthroughs have begun; will notify you when Michigan arrives.
It's a major award. Lamarr Woodley is a strong second in this week's MaxwellPundit balloting, well behind first-place Troy Smith but within striking distance of the Robot Assassin. Should Michigan defeat Ohio State and should Woodley turn in an impressive performance, he just may win the least prestigious individual award in college football (No offense, Rakes), which once again proves that blogz rool.
Yes, they are crazy. A letter in a recent edition of the Ann Arbor News:
Michigan Stadium plans a little too Nazi Germany
So at last we see the drawings for the new Michigan Stadium. Pretty imperial, and uncomfortably like something in 1930s Nuremberg (www.thirdreichruins.com/nuernberg3.htm). I had thought that Albert Speer died in 1981, but perhaps not. And all those the luxury boxes: for the "FÃ¼hrers and best?''
David G. Winter, Ann Arbor
For comparison, here's Hitler Stadium (no, not the one in Columbus):
Aaaand here's a the proposed expansion of Michigan Stadium:
Unless Mr. Winter thinks the arch is a sinister Nazi invention, he's crazy. Even if the arch was a sinister Nazi invention, he's still crazy. Anyway, I'd like to thank Mr. Winter for invoking Godwin's Law. I declare the anti-box forces defeated. It's V-Luudite Day.
|M48||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Double TEs to the short side; run there. Nice job by Butler(+1) to drive back the DE and give Hart the corner.|
|O46||2||4||I-Form Twins||Run||9||Hart||Zone right|
|NW spread out on the DL like Iowa was: three tight over the interior line, two wide of the tackles. Kraus(+1) cuts an interior lineman; Bihl pushes his guy away, and Oluigbo reads the hole, pounding the linebacker trying to fill.|
|O37||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||6 + 15||Hart||Zone left|
|Plus personal foul facemask. We run away from the TE, towards the doubled Wrs. Hart again follows Obi, who cuts back behind Long â€“ man not sealed â€“ and into the well-paved interior, kicking out the guy trying to fill on the backside.|
|O16||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||1||Grady||Zone left|
|Boren beaten quickly; his guy gets Grady collared.|
|Unsurprisingly, Northwestern is not surprised. Boren again not so useful, this time in space. Momentary double if followed up with a block of... no one. His man falls to Obi, and the filling safety bottles him up.|
|Arrington with a step on the DT... two steps. Henne lays it in there perfectly. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. It all started so well...|
|Misread by Hart; outside is wide open if he pops it out there, as a safety is blitzing into the middle of the field at the snap. He cuts up into eight guys for a couple, but the backside DE isn't handled by Mitchell(-1).|
|Henne has Mathews open but throws well behind him... and I'm not so sure this isn't a catch. (IN, 1, 2/2 protection)|
|Hits Breaston in the hands; easy first down if caught. (CA, 3, 2/2 protection)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. Can't blame DeBord for this one. Had the first on two consecutive downs but for execution errors. Hell, even first down was more a misread than a bad call.|
|Breaston gives back two or three trying to get more yards. Should have spun outside and picked up five or so more. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M34||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone right|
|Cutback fest. Hart jukes an unblocked DE out of his shorts on the backside, sliding up near a first down.|
|Well, that's depressing. Blitzing linebacker is picked up by FB Will Paul; he grabs Hart as he passes; filling safety brings him down with no YAC.|
|Fitzgerald thinks that it's a terrible spot. Note that when Henne recovers his own fumble, his knees aren't on the ground, Spielman.|
|M39||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Slashes up through a nickel crease(? I wrote this, I know I did... but I have no idea what a "nickel crease" is) but is tripped up by a leg or an arm or something.|
|Adjustment: we've had trouble on the waggle because backside DEs have been coming up and getting immediate pressure on Henne. This time Butler comes in motion to the waggle side of the field, blocking the backside DE and giving Henne time to find a wide receiver downfield. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Kraus gets out on a guy on the second level; Oluigbo kicks out the other linebacker and Hart has a major crease. The key to these plays is often how much the backside guard or tackle can bother a defensive lineman: Boren does a nice job on this play.|
|Ugh. Perimeter linebacker shoots upfield, forcing Oluigbo to block him immediately and shutting off the outside. No big deal on second and one against Northwestern? Not so much. Interior line getting driven back, forcing Hart to cut all the way behind him and into charging help.|
|O37||3||2||I-Form 2TE||Run||-3||Hart||Zone left|
|I suppose you could blame Kraus or Bihl for letting a lineman through, but I think this is just plain old predictability: Northwestern shifts their line left moments before the snap, turning difficult playside blocks into impossible ones. Four Wildcat defenders are into the backfield.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Another drive ends with a stretch play into an overloaded front on third and short.|
|Hart ends up cutting between Butler and Long on the backside. A good read by Hart; a NW linebacker's hesitancy attack the backside opens up a lot of room.|
|Bihl(+1) gets the key block here, sealing a guy lined up slightly playside of him and providing the lane Hart darts up through between him and Kraus.|
|O28||2||1||Ace Twins||Run||3||Grady||Zone right|
|Hurray, a short run conversion. This one isn't exactly wonderful blocking, but Grady does find a place to power through arm tackles.|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-1||Minor||Zone left|
|Seven guys in the box versus three-wide. Real problem, unfortunately, is Boren, who can't even bother the playside DT. Tou gh block to ask him to make. DT cuts off the backside; there's nowhere for Minor to go.|
|Finally an effective screen. Good block by Bihl to prevent a DT from getting out; Mitchell gets a DB on the ground in space. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|O16||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||3||Grady||Zone left|
|NW tightens up the line presnap, expecting something inside (why?), we run the stretch again, though we do give Grady a lead blocker this time.|
|Ugly play. Bihl overwhelmed, and his man shoots over his prone body to grab Minor's ankle. He steps through it and stumbles through a small hole.|
|Holding on what's otherwise a good gain, on Bihl(-1). Well... he may have ripped him to the ground, but I don't pretend to have any idea what the Big Ten thinks holding is anymore. Seems this is let go often enough.|
|Draw fake to Hart followed by a screen to him. Kraus does well in space, chopping a guy mercilessly. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|First of the year.|
|Similar route to the one that got Arrington a touchdown. This one is better covered, causing Henne to lob it high, but too high. (IN, 0, protection 2/2).|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Grady||Zone left|
|Momentary stop, cuts upfield behind the OL vanguard. Boren(+1) got the backside DE chopped to provide the opening.|
|M45||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||8||Grady||Zone right|
|Grady cuts back all the way behind Butler, as everyone gets to the frontside of their blocker, leaving a huge hole open. Nice read.|
|Would have gone for 25... hit Butler right in the hands. A tiny bit behind him, but still eminently catchable. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Nice room; would have gone for the first if Mathews coul have gotten a decent block. Where have these been this year? (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|I don't know WTF Henne's looking at, because he's got Arrington wide open for the first down on a slant. Henne double-clutches, rolls out, and chucks an incompletion wide of Breaston while on the run. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 2 min 2nd Q.|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Grady||Zone left|
|Defensive end gets inside of Butler, which would seem like a very good thing for Michigan, but Grady inexplicably doesn't take the corner, which is wide, wide open, instead cutting it up into a mess of bodies for little gain.|
|Only three guys in this pattern. Henne steps up, can't find anyone, and takes off. (TA)|
|I think this is tipped by the DE, causing the ball to float into the air and nearly be intercepted. (BA, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Henne out on the waggle. He sees no one with an angle to stop him anywhere downfield and so just runs for a while.|
|M33||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Grady||Zone right|
|This isn't actually a fumble; the ball comes out after he's down. Play was blocked well save for one guy getting inside of Oluigbo(-1) and tripping Grady as he tried to get through the hole.|
|M36||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||3||Breaston||WR screen|
|Oluigbo, lined up as an H-back, motions out to join Breaston and Arrington at the top of the formation and I think "screen." So does Northwestern; they close it down. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Three man rush yields a ton of time. Henne surveys and eventually tries to rifle it into a covered Butler. A linebacker deflects the ball. Henne had two guys short with a shot at the first down. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Running versus eight guys in the box. Butler gets a cut, Kraus manages to shove a DT towards the frontside, and Hart hurdles for a decent gain anyway.|
|O31||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|Yick. Think Henne has to get us out of this play. They're showing a zone with a linebacker shaded over to Breaston's side and a corner rolled up over the TE on the short side. We run to the wide side of the field; the linebacker, who is huger than Breaston and lined up inside of him, gets position easily. Oluigbo comes along to pop him and does, but a safety is moving up just before the snap to provide the eighth guy in the box, filling the hole unblocked.|
|O29||3||3||I-Form 2TE||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Neither Kraus nor Brian Thompson can do much with their blocks. Thompson's is especially damaging, as he gets blown back, removing any possibility Oluigbo will be useful on this play and forcing Hart up into bodies.|
|O28||4||2||Ace 3-Wide||Run||22||Hart||Zone left|
|NW backs off the run aggressiveness on the wrong down. They've only go six in the box â€“ one liebacker is lined up about a yard from a DB over Breaston, probably preparing for some sort of robber zone to cut off slants. Michigan has a guy for every defender. There's a crease beween Long and Kraus. Hart breaks a diving tackle from Kraus' man, obliterates the linebacker who discarded Bihl and goes for a chunk of yards.|
|O6||1||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Hart goes off of Long. Well blocked, but safety comes up as an extra man. Hart plows through him for a few.|
|Touchdown. Zone blocking but this looks designed to go up the middle. One DT is doubled by Bihl and Kraus and sealed. The other's first step is upfield past Boren as if he expects a zone to his side. Crease right up the middle. Oluigbo gets a Dudley-worthy block in the hole, opening up the easy touchdown for Hart.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Eight guys in the box. Bihl driven back, Kraus loses control of his man; nowhere for Minor to run.|
|Seven in the box. We run against the strength of the formation, creasing the line between Kraus and Bihl. Minor explodes up through the line.|
|Fumbles the ball after picking up the first down... probably. Just seems to drop the ball.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-3, 14 min 4th Q.|
|M20||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||7||Jackson||Zone left|
|I think this is what a playside DT block is supposed to look like. Bihl fires out to the left, disrupting the path of the DT until Boren can pick him up and seal. Bihl then releases downfield. Kraus gets a great block on the second level, opening up a crease that Jackson makes the most of.|
|M27||2||3||Ace Twins||Run||0||Jackson||Zone left|
|Defensive end unblocked and makes a tackle for no gain. Bust.|
|This is going to sound crazy: we should have run a draw here. NW has five(!) guys in the box plus a linebacker shaded inside Arrington. Anyway: three man rush; we choose to leave Mitchell's guy single blocked. WTF? He gets around the corner, forcing Henne to step up and roll out. Looks like another one of Henne's adventures in useless scrambling but at the last moment he finds Breaston wide open on the sidelines and slings it out to him. (DO, 2, protection 1/2, Mitchell )|
|M45||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||11||Breaston||Slip screen|
|What is this throw on first down? Is it legal? Anyway: Arrington(-1) whiffs his block completely, but Breaston(+2) dodges the tackle and turns this into a first down anyway. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Kraus's man fights inside of him, closing down the hole on the interior. A better read from Jackson takes him outside of Kraus and finds a lot of open space.|
|Mitchell's man spins past him, forcing Henne to bail out of the pocket. He finds Butler for a few yards... good to make anything out of this play. (CA, 3, protection 0/2, Mitchell)|
|Mitchell again pwned. Henne forced to scramble immediately and eventually run out of bounds for a sack. (protection 0/2, Mitchell)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 9 min 4th Q.|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Jackson||Zone left|
|Kraus driven back; morass in the middle; passing plays are so much easier to chart.|
|Eaton gets right into Henne's face. (BA, protection 1/2, Butler)|
|Henne's best throw of the day is a post between five Northwestern defenders that finds Mathews. A little behind him but that's a quibble. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Seemingly nowhere to go. Jackson halts, lets a defender overrun his position a little bit, and cuts up into the vacated space. Nice patience.|
|O34||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Jackson||Zone left|
|Nice push from the OL, but cute video package reduces the viewing area so I can't really get a good read on what happened.|
|O28||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||5||Jackson||Zone left|
|Northwestern fading... now guys are getting blown off the ball.|
|Excellent protection. Mathews clearly bumped but the ball was uncatchable. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Bihl beaten, forcing Oluigbo to pick up his man and allowing a delayed blitzer to come free. Henne gets a good pass off anyway, hitting Breaston on the slant... dropped. (CA, 3, protection 1 /2, Bihl)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (blocked), 17-3, 5 min 4th Q.|
What's with "protection"?
It's an attempt to measure Michigan's pass protection. Most medium or deep throws are graded out of two points. Whenever a play doesn't get 2/2 someone is assigned responsibility for the breakdown. Some hurries, forced scrambles, and batted passes are also filed as breakdowns, but when a quarterback gets into trouble of his own making the OL is exonerated.
Results for NW: 23/30. -5 Mitchell, -1 Butler, -1 Bihl. Mitchell is not a right tac kle, but you probably had an inkling of that already.
Par for the course for Henne. Was victimized by three drops, each of which would have turned a punt into at least a field goal attempt in all probability. He's getting better at finding guys on the run, but I still think he's a little too jumpy in the pocket.
Two painful drops from Breaston and if you reclassify all his screens into some other category that 23/26 gets a lot uglier. He is what he is, though, and I think people are still overreacting.
Those wondering whether or not Arrington was suspended at all: he was targeted all of once. That targeting happened to be an extremely visible touchdown catch, but it's also a major comedown from the past couple weeks when he got double-digit looks.
Greg Mathews is the new Jason Avant until he drops something.
Yeah, how about that Greg Mathews, anyway?
He's leapt ahead of several guys with more experience and has taken advantage of the time provided him, but what are the alternatives? Doug Dutch? Carl Tabb? (No offense, Carl, but something's got to be wrong with you if the coaches are terrified of letting you even run a pattern.) Superstardom probably does not beckon, especially with Manningham and Arrington only sophomores.
However: he looks smooth and sure-handed. We have only a little data on him, but we do know he's not much for outrunning NW's secondary and has caught everything thrown to him save one ball impossibly behind him which he may have grabbed anyway. Jason Avant, perhaps?
Is not a tackle. He did fine for most of the game but was victimized on a few consecutive plays towards the end.
Is kind of struggling. Not a shock -- true freshman and all -- but I'd be much more comfortable with Riley back in the lineup versus Ohio State. Given his valiant (but ill-advised) attempt to come back at the start of the second half versus Iowa, I expect his injury is minor enough to heal in a couple weeks. We'll need him.
Are you going to continue your vicious attacks on Mike Debord?
Well, not so much. Many of Michigan's problems against Northwestern were execution errors: dropped passes, inaccurate balls, missed cuts, and the like. Drive by drive:
- Hart missses a cut on first down. Henne throws it behind Mathews on second down. Breaston drops it on third.
- Second and one turns into fourth and five when two consecutive stretch plays are sniffed out and stoned. (Blame DeBord here for his insistence on using these plays on third and short despite clear evidence that they don't work.)
- FG. Holding and a delay penalty on the last set of downs; a somewhat open third-down pass is overthrown.
- Butler drops a 25-yard seam route; Henne ignores open receivers on third and short.
- Grady misses a cut on first down; ball tipped on third.
Etc, etc, etc. Now a lot of the execution errors that caused punts were due to DeBord's run run run run giving us little room for error and the weather vastly increasing the chances of said error. I think it was just a bad day and all the OMG OSU stuff going on from fans and Herbstreit and such fails to take Michigan's historic lack of respect for teams like Northwestern in to account. Most years it would have caused us to drop a game we shouldn't have, but this year we have that defense so we can get away with it. I don't expect the same stuff against Ohio State.
Right: Ohio State.
We need Manningham back, obviously. He may play this weekend and should definitely be back for Indiana. All reports from medical guru-types say that this type of injury completely heals in a month... he'll be fine. (I notice a consistent theme in OSU slappy predictions: "they need Manningham back or we'll kill them and Manningham is out and may not be totally healthy and so forth and so on." Combines hope that he misses the game with ignorance of reality with an ironclad backdoor in case you're wrong with amazing overconfidence. Add in beer and urine and it encapsulates the OSU fan experience.) Without a quick-strike capability we are unlikely to drive the field against OSU given the lack of explosion in our run game, our inability to consistently convert third and short, and our tendency to drop passes.