First... who thought this incredibly creepy, animated Dennis Dodd was a good idea? John Carpenter? Dude looks like Gollum. Here's a fun tip: move your pointer from his left to his right and watch his lopsided conehead shift. FFTWF.
Andy Warhol lives. Warren St. John gets a massive journalistic scoop by interviewing this guy:
No, not Corso, wiseass. The guy with the sign. As you might expect from someone holding a "Lee Corso is a Penis" sign, he wants to work for ESPN:
...Todd's still a free man -- for now -- and he agreed to talk if we promised not to print his last name. (Todd wants to work for ESPN someday.)
I regret to inform Todd that if the criteria for acquiring an ESPN job was calling various employees of the company unflattering names, I'd be on the six o'clock Sportscenter tonight trying to translate (!) into a complicated series of hand gestures. (Seriously. Both hands move in a downward sweeping motion for the parens, then the right hand draws a line between them and flicks out the dot with considerable flair as I cock an eyebrow; I'm doing this right now as I pretend to narrate highlights; Please send help.)
In other Lee Corso Is A Penis Guy news, Golden Tornado's dismissive, dawg-baiting reaction to the interview drew fire from the great man himself. I'd say he obviously has too much time on his hands, but
- he was just on TV with a "Lee Corso is a Penis" sign, so we should encourage his sloth and
- I have a goddamned sports blog.
Speaking of ESPN. You can't spit on the Internet of late without hitting three pages laced with invective against the company. The latest is a parody from the always-on Something Awful that highlights something strange:
We'll be back in a minute folks, but in the meantime enjoy this commercial break featuring an ad for SportsCenter which is infinitely more entertaining and informative than the actual show itself.
Seriously! We should fire the ESPN executives and just hire the ad company.
Illinois at the bottom? That's what we call a sanity check. Pat from Bleed Blue n White pointed out one man's foray into the wonderful world of directed acyclic graphs and how they apply to football at Beatpaths.com and then attempted to apply it to the Big Ten. It's an interesting concept, but I don't think there's really enough data in college football for it to mean much. I would be fascinated to see a beatpaths/pairwise comparison for college hockey or basketball, though.
We respect the upcoming opponent, product, or service immensely. Defensive end Jeremy Van Alstyne on Indiana:
"You know, they have some really good skill players,'' the redshirt junior said with a serious expression. "They're able to make big plays and stuff like that."
And who, exactly, are those skill players?
"I don't know," Van Alstyne said, admitting he hadn't watched much film yet.
No doubt the Wolverines will be jacked for Unnamed Opponent on Saturday.
When we last left our other winged-helmet wearing heroes they were 4-0-1 and coming off a tie against Michigan State. Since that time Michigan has split with Alaska Fairbanks on the road--as predicted in this space--and swept the Fighting Irish in a home and home to run their record to a highly respectable 7-1-1. Andrew Cogliano is in the process of blowing up all over the CCHA, recording 15 points in his last 6 games.
If you will it, Dude, it is no dream. I done figured some stuff out, and though the grab-convert-edit process is an unwieldy thing requiring three different programs, it's done. I wouldn't expect this every week, but I'll try to get up some clips on a semiregular basis. Strictly links at this moment; I hope to get non-crushing embedding going soon. Also, these clips are much smaller... perhaps too small(?). They're about 3-5 megs. On with the show, IBFC style. (All clips in WMV, should play no problem in Windows Media Player. Does this work for Mac people? Please inform. Right click and "Save As" to get a clip
in your belly on your hard drive.)
First on the docket are a pair of nice plays from the Friday game against Notre Dame that ended 8-5 for the good guys due in large part to one Andrew Cogliano. One is a sweet cross-ice pass to give TJ Hensick a tip in; the other is a Tambellini special where Cogs warps into the offensive zone and gives the water bottle a ride.
Second is Cogliano's goal from Saturday against ND. It's not a hard shot but it's well placed and uses a screen cleverly.
Third is Chad Kolarik's first goal against ND, which is a combination of sloppy penalty killing and a healthy fear of one Jack Johnson. Notice how when he gets the puck everyone freaks out. Kolarik's left wide open for a tap-in rebound.
Fourth is some additonal Cogliano hotness--if I was Sam from BC&RS I would make some refence to it being Brandon-Inge-ass-level hawtness. Fortunately for Brandon Inge, I'm not. Anyway, Cogs receives the puck from Johnson on the power play and then whips an unpossible cross-ice pass right to Kolarik's stick; Kolarik then roofs it. A real NHL '95 special here, and a beauty.
Finally we have TJ Hensick using his quickosity to pick up a loose puck and bury a wraparound before anyone realizes what's going on. The color commentator, former Michigan player Sean Ritchlin, has just finished claiming that Hensick's the premiere player in college hockey. Good on yer, Sean.
- I had been disappointed with Cogliano early in the year and was wondering if he could end up with Milan Gajic disease. Yeah... not so much anymore. That cross-ice pass from above is a thing of beauty and the rifle shot from Friday is pure Tambellini...
- Goddammit, I hate you, LA Kings.
- Both of the goals Sauer yielded on Saturday against Notre Dame were pretty soft. On the first one he left a Star Jones rebound lying right in the crease on a puck he should have been able to kick to the corner. He failed to hold the near post on the second one and was going down in a butterfly as the stoppable ND shot flew by him. A Josh Blackburn special.
- But, yeah, he didn't give up five.
- Refereeing level was "harmless monkey."
- Ebbett and Kal haven't been filling up the scoresheet but it's just a matter of time, as Ebbett is playing very well.
- Remember when we thought this team would have trouble scoring? Yeah: we're #2 with 4.56 goals per game. That will probably come down as the year rolls along but Hensick, Colgiano, Porter, Kolarik, Johnson, Hunwick, Ebbett, and Kal are a hell of a scoring combination. Cogliano has 15 points and is leading all freshmen in scoring. Johnson is #2 with 14.
- Powerplay is diiiirty, having gone 24 for 72. That's 33 percent, and is tops in the nation by a wide margin. The penalty kill is 55 for 60 and is fourth nationwide.
That OSU-preseason-favorite thing went in the tank after, oh, about a weekend of CCHA play. After getting three points from Bowling Green the Buckeyes went on to get swept by Western Michigan and Miami. Miami actually has the look of a good team, but Western's four games against non-OSU competition: loss to second-year program Robert Morris, loss to Niagara, and a sweep at the hands of Lake State, including a 10-0 whomping. Lake State used to go a month without scoring 10 goals under Crazy Frank Anazalone. Suffice it to say that the already ghostly Buckeye bandwagon has entirely ceased to exist.
Miami and Michigan State, and UAF have emerged as Michigan's main competition for the league title. Miami has swept UNO and OSU; State has swept Northern, tied us, and tied Ferris State. UAF has a split with us and three points on the road from Ferris. Then there's a group of no less than five teams currently .500 in league play. Major shmozz at the moment.
Two nonconference series of note from two weeks ago: Notre Dame split with Princeton and Michigan State split with Cornell, both par for the course. The CCHA has already put itself in a much better position than it did last year for tournament seeding. The next major nonconference test for the CCHA will be the always-huge College Hockey Showcase over Thanksgiving.
The Nonconference Opponents
Why? Well, when Mr. Pairwise comes around he's heavily based on how our opponents do. Better opponents means better seeding relative to our record. I'll keep an eye on how they're doing.
The first bit of good news is that Quinnipiac came off its opening-weekend sweep at the hands of the Wolverines and ran off eight straight victories. Granted, six of those wins are against the very bottom of D-I, but the Q did sweep its first-ever ECAC weekend, taking one each against Harvard and Dartmouth. Boston College is 3-2-1, having had last weekend off after beating UNH. They'll be a Hockey East contender as per usual. Merrimack, on the other hand, is going to be berry, berry bad.
- A "Mr. Johnson" clapclapclap after he danced during "I Can't Turn You Loose," like, again.
- The tiny shirtless guy who's, like Cogliano's creepy best friend or something was back, this time with a shirt.
The Next Weekend
A pair in Marquette versus Northern Michigan, who were just swept at the hands of Michigan State. The Wildcats always give Michigan trouble and really need to pull something out of this weekend or they'll be reeling. The results will depend heavily on the refereeing. Michigan's been awful attempting to clear the puck from their zone 5 on 5 and (obviously) lights out on special teams. If ticky-tack home crowd-hating Wilkins shows up Michigan will have a major advantage. If the ref lets them stay out of the box, the Wildcats will take at least one.
I'll stick with my bold split pronouncements: 4-3 NMU Friday, 5-3 Michigan Saturday.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Fallers: UCLA's magic carpet ride died with a dull thud on Saturday and they're currently in the plummet-to-earth-with-bowling-ball phase of their totally trippy 2005 season, dropping an impressive ten slots to #15. Boston College dropped out from #19. Virginia Tech found itself relatively elastic after its its crushing loss at the hands of Miami, as did Wisconsin--both teams only fell four spots despite being thoroughly dominated.
Risers: Both Penn State and Miami made headway in the top ten by dominating highly ranked opponents. Blogpoll voters collectively resolved the Miami-Alabama debate by calling it a draw: we really have a 3(T). We also have an 8(T), as Notre Dame and Georgia both check in with the same number of points. Everbody else fell orderly upwards past the fallers.
Outrage!!! Still mystified at the votes Rutgers and Cal are getting, along with the brutal treatment given to a Georgia team that was without Shockley when they struggled against Arkansas and lost to Florida--why LSU in front of them? We continue to have the same issues that other polls do that rank almost exclusively by losses, preferring teams that haven't proven anything over teams that have proven they're good but not great.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: Er... okay, Rob, I see where you're coming from on the Alabama not so hot thing, but #9? This in response to JournoRock's continued placement of Alabama #1 for reasons that boil down to "no one else thinks Alabama is #1"?
And let it not be said that Boi From Troy is stubborn. Instead of placing Texas #6, he listened to everyone's reasoned input and ranked them #5.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Voters are clearly undecided on what exactly to do with a team that has one loss by a billion points to a crappy team and several other hair-raising escapes, as UCLA is the new King of Variance.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is Texas blogger actionBERG and his ballot is uh... yeah. New this week to the poll is (drumroll, please...) #15(!) UTEP, who rocket up into the poll on the strength of a 41-38 win over mighty Tulsa. Apparently this means that they are better than #16 Ohio State, #17 Notre Dame, #19 Florida State, etc. He also persists in ranking Texas Tech #7 and has a major mid-major (major major) fetish going with TCU #12 and Fresno State #13. This is what you get when you rank strictly on the basis of losses.
Mr. Numb Existence is Notre Dame blog the Blue-Gray Sky. Their one fobile is slightly overrating ND versus the poll at large. The Irish check in at #5.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award goes to Northwestern blogger SportsBiz, who's probably just ecstatic he can plausibly win this thing. The Wildcats' cardiac win over Iowa vaults them up into 19th on his ballot, and not coincidentally forces Michigan far up the ladder: on their off week he bumped them up 7 spots.
The Straight Bangin' Award has new home, as RD didn't manage to get a ballot in on time this week. Bruins Nation takes over the top spot for dumping UCLA down to #22 after the Arizona debacle. Yet another example of a team blog getting vicious after a brutal loss. Straight Bangin' is back and kicking in this category, slotting Michigan behind the mighty Scarlet Knights for some reason.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not include
d). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Swing's fixed. Yay.
Mr. Manic Depressive is Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, who apparently forgot about Florida last week and absolutely Yellow Hammered former #5 UCLA for their loss to Arizona, dropping them from the poll entirely.
Mr. Stubborn is the DJL Zone, and I can already tell this is going to be a category I'm not going to have a ton of interesting things to say about.
Introducing the Fraud Squad.
I will take this opportunity to force BlogPoll voters to look deep into the sausagey bowels of some of the teams they're voting for.
|Best Win||Oklahoma||Florida||Texas A&M||South Carolina||Pitt or UConn||Arizona|
|Worst Loss||Arizona||Tennessee||Texas||Georgia Tech||Illinois!||Oregon State|
|Cheap Shot||Transitive property of college football indicates that UC-Davis would pwn you.||Wins over ASU, Auburn were total flukes.||Made Michigan's mobile quarterback defense look sweet.||Uh, you suck and stuff.||ILLI- FREAKIN' -NOIS||Quarterback's name spelled backward is "HELP ME I CANNOT THROW-YA"|
|Advice||12-ish or worse.||11-12.||#22 with a bullet.||Squeak them in at the bottom.||Omit with ferocity.||Omit until they beat a non-shortbus riding team.|
I have bitchslapped the above teams in my ballot. I recommend you do the same.
|1||Texas||Why #1? To me USC and Texas are equal, so I will vote with the minority.|
|2||Southern Cal||No offense.|
|3||Penn State||Defense wins championships, but I also like it when the defense comes with an offense.|
|5||Miami||Overtaken by the spirit of Bo Schembechler on Saturday.|
|6||Alabama||Score an offensive touchdown.|
|7||Virginia Tech||But I wanted to like you so much.|
|8||Ohio State||Ugh. Pending 1-4 against Tressell == awful.|
|9||Notre Dame||Listen to Michael here; this offense is not almighty, and SEC defenses are pretty good. Still, ND has been consistently good. Few teams can say that.|
|10||Oregon||Main beneficiary of this carnage below.|
|11||LSU||Running out of snark!|
|12||UCLA||Finally got what was coming to them.|
|13||Wisconsin||A better team than they showed against PSU. Tamba Hali was a terrible matchup problem and PSU defense is one of the best in the country.|
|14||Florida||Yeah, well, Vandy... I dunno. Weird day for the middle of the poll.|
|15||Florida State||No QB problem rears up again. Was fortunate to beat Miami.|
|16||Georgia Tech||Put up or shut up coming soon.|
|17||Fresno State||Please beat USC. It would be sweet.|
|18||West Virginia||I guess.|
|20||Texas Tech||Has proven it can annihilate terrible pass defenses.|
|21||Auburn||Still haven't played anyone.|
|23||TCU||Still suspicious of that SMU loss.|
|24||Colorado||But meeem I wanted to vote for Spurrier.|
|25||Northwestern||Big Ten bias? Who else down here has beaten an 8-2 BCS team?|
Dropped Out: BC(#13)
Games I Saw: VT-Miami, UW-PSU, Alabama-Miss State, ND-UT)
Help Requested: #11-16 are drawn out of a hat mostly.
Update: Sadly, had to excise South Carolina in favor of Colorado. If you're wondering about 'Bama, my "defense wins championships" statement was an ironic one. If Alabama manages to defensive touchdown its way through the SEC undefeated they'll be #3; as long as there's some projection aspect, though, I project that a couple field goals will not be sufficient to beat all comers.
I continue to defy Big Ten Wonk's wishes by covering hockey like a rabid, er, wolverine! I apologize but my love for puck is deep and true, though I will make an effort to do right by the basketball team... after the Ohio State game.
Michigan has picked up a commitment from BCHL forward Brian Lebler, (HT: Western College Hockey) who will accelerate his schooling and join the team next year. This is a bit of a rally for Michigan as Lebler seemed ticketed for Wisconsin only a week ago. Lebler's dad played for the Badgers. This madison.com article has details:
Brian Lebler, a 17-year-old winger playing his second season with Penticton of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, has been offered the last scholarship UW has available for next year.
Lebler, whose father Ed was a winger for the Badgers from 1978 to '81, also is considering Michigan and Ohio State. Ed Lebler said his son intends to make campus visits to those three schools before making a decision.
"We'd like to see Brian go to Wisconsin," Ed Lebler said last week, noting that his wife, the former Mary Botham, grew up in Madison and has family living in the state. "But we'll have to wait and see."
Brian Lebler, listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, had 21 goals and 31 points in 56 games for Penticton last year. He had six goals in his first eight games with the Vees this season.
It sounds like he's a low four star to use the parlance of football recruitnickery. Bob Miller of The Wolverine says thusly:
Big kid who patrols his wing, gives full effort and has some offensive ability. He's a likely draft pick, yes, and I'd spot him somewhere between big and medium on the splashometer.
Given Michigan's roster situation for next year Lebler is an important pickup. Michigan's scratching only one recruited forward this year, has no other forwards committed, and will graduate Andrew Ebbett and Brandon Kaleniecki.
Welcome. Don't piss off #3.
Add in the potential NHL defection of TJ Hensick and Michigan was looking at a fairly gaping hole going forward. Even with Lebler things seem a little thin given that Michigan will have nothing but Krikor Arman 2006 past the 12 recruited forwards, and that's with Hensick. Hensick is a year than most juniors and was just drafted so he may stick around, but I wouldn't count on it after last year's defectionfest.
The solution: pencil in brand-new defenseman David Rohlfs at wing next year. Michigan graduates no defensemen and is bringing in Chris Summers and Steven Kampfer. What about defections? Well, as I've asserted previously, the college senior with a serious NHL future is a dying breed that just got a lethal injection from the new CBA. Matt Hunwick's stellar play thus far certainly indicates that he has an NHL future; it's highly unlikely he returns. I had written off Jack Johnson as well, but his dad's strident position that Johnson will stick around for "at least" two years has me convinced, since they're obviously not trying to improve their bargaining position. Johnson's going to get the rookie cap whenever he signs.
Thus the winds indicate that Michigan will likely have seven recruited defensemen and either 11 or 12 forwards. Rent, don't buy, David.
Argh. Vicious headache == no blog + sorry for self. Carrying on.
Everyone agrees that Tommy Amaker's team collapsed in the face of devastating losses in personnel. (Again, Abram missed all but the first two games and was given a medical redshirt. Horton missed 18 games. Chris Hunter was out for eight. You get the idea....) But need the collapse have been so total?
Wonk concludes the answer to this question is "probably not," and I agree with him, though I think his opinion of Michigan's talent level is too kind. That nailbiter against Illinois--which was obviously Michigan playing way over its head, reduced to spreading the floor and desperately trying to reduce the number of possessions--probably lingers in Wonk's mind. Still, some of the dire blowouts to teams like Purdue cannot be explained away with a wave of the Ashtyn Bell wand.
Amaker's main problem seems to be that he's a really nice guy who often seems less like a coach and more like an interested observer on the receiving end of questionable advice re: turtlenecks and their relation to sportcoats. Michigan's players that arrived soft are still soft; those that arrived one-dimensional are still one-dimensional; those that arrived with a license to brick still have it. One cannot help but look across the state to the God-Emporer of East Lansing's totalitarian regime that turns tall goo into robotic, effective players and ponder how he would mold the mercurial talent that Amaker has assembled. Amaker seems to totally forgo the whole molding thing. Given the way he's been recruiting lately (thoroughly meh), continuing this state of affairs will only lead to more mediocrity.
No freaking kidding.
Lost in the constant Terrell Owens everything: Clinton Portis is full on bats. Extra spicy bats. He's taken to dressing up in garish costumes when talking to the media. The top image is "Jerome from Southeast DC" (racist?); the bottom is "Dr. I Don't Know." This is the first I've heard of this and I was required to get it from always-on-top-of-stuff Deadspin instead of ESPN, despite the fact that Portis has made this a habit:
It was the fifth time in six weeks that he has dressed up for the scribes and cameras.
This has been going on for a month and a half and no one notified the national media! It was at a press conference! The mind... boggling!
Wait a minute, this has no relation to this blog's topic area. Strict Blog Ethics require that I relate this to Michigan somehow. Wait, wait... former Michigan tackle Jon Jansen, what do you think?
"I have no idea what he's doing all the time, but he makes it fun," tackle Jon Jansen said. "If he dresses like that in New York, he's on his own. Only when he's on the field will we protect him."
Thanks, Jon. Close shave there.
I leave you with this:
So how did Jerome meet his demise?
"Dr. Don't Know don't know a lot," Portis said. "Complication of a panic attack. He never traveled back with us from New York. The guy, he had an amazing upside. I talked to his family and friends. He's going to be missed, but on with this life."
I don't ask for much as the purveyor of this blog, but please do this one thing for me: should I meet my untimely demise and you find yourself talking about it, please mention my tremendous upside. Otherwise I will haunt your ass.
Better late than never: IBFC has received foreign aid and has posted some belated Iowa highlights.
Fire in the BlogPoll! Wow. Stuffs is getting heated around these parts. All Things Longhorn is not happy about Boi From Troy placing Texas #6(!):
He's either dumb, misinformed, or excessively biased.
BFT fires back:
After all, we're not the ones who have been homering for UT all season long. Just try to beat Kansas without paying off the refs before you book tickets to Pasadena!
Well, no, BFT, you haven't been homering for UT, but you have had an obvious tendency to overrate USC opponents. What's that? Another salvo?
In other precincts, 50-Yard Lion has his tinfoil hat on:
As you may know, I participate in a blog poll. The poll is run by a THEM [== "Michigan" -ed] fan, and is weighted in their favor (their are two of us for PSU, one for Iowa, one for MSU, one for NW and 2 for OSU, but 5 THEM blogs! There are about 50 votes each week--10% are THEM bloggers.)
All of the non-THEM blogs had PSU ranked ahead of OSU last week (including the Buckeye Bloggers), before the our match-up with Wisconsin. Three of THEM, though, thought otherwise:
Paradigm Blog (Mich): OSU 9, PSU 12
Rob in Madtown (Mich): OSU 8, PSU 13!)
Straight Bangin (you guessed it--Mich): OSU 9, PSU 10
See a trend here? I find it amaizing [sic? pun? it is the mystery.] that these guys would rank their mortal enemy Buckeyes ahead of PSU--even when PSU beat the Buckeyes straight up!
Unfortunately I have to agree: ranking a two-loss OSU team over a one-loss, OSU-beating Penn State team is totally unpossible. I would point out that this disease is not exclusive to Michigan bloggers, though, having seen it many places. It's totally mystifying, but there it is. Of course, 50YL immediately cedes the high ground by totally omitting Michigan. Frequent commenter Pat has started up a new blog that appears poised to bring some measure of sanity to the Penn State Interniche; his first post takes on 50YL's paranoia.
Yet elsewhere: Mark Hasty's latest ballot, featuring #5 USC, drew fire from me and spawned another comment thread featuring tremendous back and forth salvos; his latest moves the Trojans back to #2... and totally omits a Michigan team that has a top-25 resume in favor of Rutgers. This is not exclusive to Mark--Joey at SH has Rutgers #24 and Michigan #25--but Rutgers is a fraudtastic fraud getting Vandy votes at the moment. Let's be clear: bowl-eligible Rutgers is a cute story for the kids, but it's still team that lost to this guy:e="text-align: center;">
Victories? Over I-AA Villanova, 0-9 Buffalo, national punchline Pitt, 1-7 Syracuse, UConn, and Navy. This is more impressive than a team with the same record, one of the nation's toughest schedules, and wins over Penn State, Iowa, and Northwestern? That steams my clam, in the parlance of our times.
I guess it's good that people care about this stuff, though.
What's the moral of the story? Hell if I know. Polling, like many other things, appears to be a lot like sausage. Perhaps it's difficult to take the end result seriously when you see that the ingredients include a heavy dose of flapjack nuts, but as 50-Yard Lion pointed out, the scary thing is that we are obviously no worse than the jokers who actually determine who goes to the BCS... unless you think that this is a reasonable stretch for a poll released in the immediate aftermath of Penn State's domination of the Badgers:
14. Ohio State
16. West Virginia
17. Penn State
That's an actual ballot from Harris poll voter Dick Harmon. The thing also has Texas Tech #8 and TCU #11; it's worse than any ballot I've clashed with all year. Ironically, checking his column archive shows an article titled "'Big Least' one reason why BCS is a fraud". I've got another reason the BCS is a fraud: Dick Harmon.
Stuck at the bottom with you. As predicted, my predictions suck. I'm 2-5 with the sole solace being that I'm tied with the great predictor of all things future.
Why did Peter King say this? King managed to fire off this during his weekly column on his daughter's lacrosse team and his coffee drinking habits:
I think the one thing you can't understand unless you live somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard between Washington and Boston -- or unless you once lived there -- is the intensity of a big sports event.
I mean... um. That's just... wow. Gunslingers has your bile covered, natch.
First... an excerpt from my favorite email ever:
i am writing for my son, who is now in the peace corps serving in kazakhstan ... anyway---he says hi---perhaps it will help your blog to be able to say that you have the #1 michigan site in the central asian steppe.
Very little could be better than this. If he was in Kazakhstan apprenticing to be a pirate, well, that would cause me to cease checking email because nothing else could be anything but a disappointment. Anyway, this is by way of explanation for the change up top.
Doublemint weirdness: Ian's profile at Sexy Results claims he's from "Athens, GA, Kazakhstan." My profile at USCHO claims I am from "Ann Arbor, MI, Kazakhstan." As TMQ might say, this undoubtedly has some deep, powerful meaning, but what is it?
What to do? Bye week content: a recruiting roundup midweek sometime. Return to hockey coverage. Pre-emptive sniping at Ohio State. Nothing about Charlie Weis or Tyrone Willingham.
Media deconstruction ahoy. FO's Too Deep Zone explores the world of swagger, which is rapidly rising up the Best Selling Sports Cliche charts. Advice to those who do not want to sound like the get their talking points from the bottom of the sports talk radio ecosystem: leave the swagger at home.
I've weighed in against ESPN enough in this space so I won't do it again, but I will point to this savage NY Post article:
HERE'S how screwy things have become at ESPN: In the course of roughly the last six months, we've spoken with, I don't know, maybe 50 different ESPN staffers. And not one of them likes what ESPN has become nor the direction it continues to travel. And they don't know anyone at ESPN who likes what's going on.
Mmmmm that's some good lead. The meat of the article deals with ESPN's belittling of a ref getting smashed into during a recent NFL game. It seems like it's a bit of an overreaction, but take it from someone who's inveighed against ESPN and then returned to think I may have gone off the deep end: this sort of "I'm not going to take it any more" moment is the result of a vast accumulation of insults. That the triggering instance may seem innocuous is evidence of the vast injury piled upon whichever sports fan is having his mental breakdown at the moment.
(HT: The Sports Biz Blog)
More drinkin' answers can be found various places. The Georgia Sports Blog has a roundup, er, up, but I feel compelled to pull the Best Answer Ever out from the relative internet obscurity of EDSBS's comments. It's not clear if this is the "good" list or the "bad" list, but here you go:
How about former coaches?
1) Gary Moeller - obvious.
2) John McKay - You have to figure after the fifth gimlet that ol' Johnny Mac would lose the self-deprectating good natured humour and turns into Louis Black, spitting vitriol at every one in range. Plus, you could get all of the great O.J. stories he's been hiding.
3) Woody Hayes - Seems like the kind of guy who would go blind on monshine, pummel you lifeless in some deserted corn field, and then weep over your bloody corpse saying he'll never love another man in quite the same way again.
EDSBS commenter known only as "Sam," truly you are the king of goofy football blog commenting. Yes, you can put that on your resume. You can find other answers from a Michigan perspective at Schembechler Hall and RBUAS.
If you thought I was creepy for stating that Kirk Ferentz had a fine daughter or two, uh... I wouldn't click on this link that's coming up right here: "The Hottest Daughter in College Football." Thanks, SMQ, for giving me some company over by the punch bowl.
Er... about that BCS chaos thing... yeah.
Votes go here. Optional polling question: what is the best one loss team?
No Michigan game this weekend, but that doesn't mean football stops.
I'm currently stuck watching Degrassi Junior High because my roommate turned the TV on first. Apoplexy! Those of you without this issue, be thankful.
|1||10||O35||Pass||11||A slip screen much like ours. Michigan's in a zone so only two guys head out to the right flank. There are three NW WRs, and they get their blocks. (CA)|
|1||10||O46||Pass||23||Bazanez drops this two inches over David Harris's outstretched arm. You can't defend that, and I think Harris's coverage was so good he gets a +1 here anyway. Dude gets deep on his drops. Sometimes too deep. (DO)|
|1||10||M31||Run||11||Say it with me: loss of contain. This is one of those plays that explain why Woods(-2) isn't the default option opposite Woodley, as he gets sucked inside by a Sutton juke and gives up the corner. Graham also gets sealed, but I think he's playing his responsibility here.|
|1||10||M20||Pass||7||Leon Hall(-1) is way, way off on this one, giving a 10 yard cushion at the snap and allowing a really easy completion when tigher coverage probably ends up in a sack. I don't understand this coverage in the slightest. There's only 20 yards left to give up, you can't give that big a cushion.|
|2||3||M13||Run||-3||Fumble, touchdown. Woods(+1) explodes off the snap, gets 2 yards into the backfield, and disengages, forcing Sutton wide. Hall(+2) steps around an attempted cut, puts his helmet on the ball, and then runs until there is no more room to run.|
|Drive Notes: Michigan Touchdown, 14-0, 9 min 1st Q. Some good playcalling and play on the first couple plays, then a Woods screwup that he immediately atones for. I don't get the really soft Hall coverage on the 20. There's only so much room behind you; it's time to step up. Fumble is a 10 or 14 point swing.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||18||MSU-like rolling pocket. Basanez finds a wide open receiver downfield.|
|1||10||O38||Pass||62||Uh. That was quick. This is Barringer's(-2) bust, though he was put in a bad position as he ended up moving forward at the snap because Michigan's attempting to disguise the coverage. This is the cost of doing business when you're trying to challenge the offense.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 8 min 1st Q. I am fine with this screwup, as it's one of the few we've had this year. Brandon Harrison has had some trouble with his angles and Jamar Adams will occasionally screw up but all four safeties have exceeded expectations.|
|1||10||O4||Pass||26||Jesus. Basanez rolls out and has a ton of time to pick Mr. Zone apart. Graham is well, well behind the WR, but when he has that much time...|
|1||10||O31||Run||1||Very nice job by Watson(+1) and Branch(+1), who stiff their blockers and collapse when Roberson attempts to dart through them.|
|2||9||O32||Pass||Int / Fumble||Basanez's wide receiver never turns around for the ball. Harrison reads, reacts, and picks the ball of then runs it down to the 15 and fumbles. Er. (+2); they did lose like 15 yards.|
|1||10||O17||Scramble||4||The rushers end up past Basanez pretty quickly and actual man coverage confuses him, causing him to take off. No, this isn't roughing.|
|2||6||O21||Run||5||Sutton goes off tackle. Burgess does as well as he can given that he's being blocked and there's a ginormous hole between Taylor and Van Alstyne(-1).|
|3||1||O26||Pass||Inc||They roll the pocket again. Basanez eventually throws it well behind Thompson when he shoud have run it, he had the first down easily.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 3 min 1st Q. Bad decision by Basanez ends the drive.|
|1||10||O21||Run||8||Clever little design here where the guard opposite Massey(-1) doesn't block him and lets him fly upfield, where a pulling guard removes him from the play and creates a gaping hole .|
|2||2||O29||Run||-2||Sweep to Sutton. Branch(+1) penetrates, forcing him outside where Burgess(+1) comes up and splats the kid. Nice play.|
|3||4||O27||Pass||Inc||Basanez has a guy right before the sticks who he misses. A catch here is probably a first down. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 2 min 1st Q. Northwestern has a number of blocking schemes that rely on the defensive lineman running himself out of the play that worked all night. The first instance is here.|
|1||10||O35||Pass||7||Soft man coverage by Mason and they throw an out in front of him.|
|2||3||M42||Run||33||Option pitch outside that's blocked well. Adams(-2) has the opportunity to cut off the outside but does not. Major mental error that's the difference between five yards and 33.|
|1||10||M25||Pass||Inc||Watson(+1) gets a quick interior pass rush which is followed up by Woods(+1) on the roll. Basanez is forced to throw the ball away.|
|2||10||M25||Run||3||Jamison(+1) holds his ground on the edge, forcing Sutton wide, where Burgess(+1) tackles Sutton securely.|
|3||7||M22||Pass||7||Michigan blitzes a safety; Basanez throws an out in front of Mason, who's playing off because his safety is futilely blitzing. As soon as the safety ran up his read was clear.|
|1||10||M15||Run||0||Watson(+1) again stiffs the intended hole. When Sutton cuts back he screws up the blocking angles of his offensive linemen, allowing Graham to shoot up unblocked and cut off his escape.|
|2||10||M15||Pass||4||Play action rollout. Jamison(+1) explodes into the OL and then gets a bead on Basanez, forcing him to throw immediately to a wide receiver only a couple yards downfield.|
|3||6||M11||Pass||Inc||Middle screen that Burgess(+2) reads all the way, arriving at the RB precisely when the ball does.|
|Drive Notes: FG(28), 14-10, 13 min 2nd Q. I really like Jamison; guy seems to burst into offensive linemen, knocking them onto their heels, upon which point he owns them. Burgess is playing very well; Watson is killing the center.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||Mason(+1) jumps this route and it's a good thing for Basanez that he chucks this one inaccurately because it's a potential interception if accurate.|
|2||10||O20||Pass||2||Shovel pass inside that David Harris(+2) owns. His little juke around the guard assigned to block him is sweet, and he follows it up with a badass tackle.|
|3||8||O22||Pass||14||Basanez rolls out and hits Philmore with a deadly accurate pass thrown at the last possible moment. Hall(-1) is in front of the WR but slows down as he approaches the sideline, offering the tiny window that Bas uses.|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Inc||All day to throw against a three man rush. Basanez has a guy wide open 12 yards downfield but he drops it. 3 MAN RUSH == DUMBS|
|2||10||O36||Pass||0||Screen that David Harris(+1) owns again... and if he didn't own it Englemon(+1) would have.|
|3||10||O36||Pass||Inc||Mason(-1) really should have been flagged on this one. I like that he's getting more aggressive, though.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 7 min 2nd Q. I think we're even now after the Avant hold. Mason's having a game like the one he had against Wisconsin. Doubt we see anything like it against Ohio State, though. Them dudes is fast.|
|1||10||O20||Penalty||5||Morgan Trent(-1) is all over the WR's back.|
|1||10||O25||Pass||Int||Mason(+3) makes a spectacular diving interception. There's miscommunication here but even if they WR had run his route correctly he'd be sititng two yards behind him, slapping his hands in disgust.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 24-10, 3 min 2nd Q. Yeah. When Mason doesn't respect the opponent's speed he gets all up in the grill.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||16||Basanez dumps it off to Sutton as Harris gets pulled way off in zone coverage. There's no one within 5 yards of him when he catches the ball.|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Inc||We're in man this time. Branch(+1) stunts around and forces Basanez to throw the ball away.|
|2||10||O36||Pass||13||More Sutton. He catches this ball in the flat a yard behind the line of scrimmage. Hall comes up to take away the outside and Burgess(-2) has the inside but overruns the play. Sutton cuts behind both of them for the first down. This is a really important play: if Sutton's tackled they have a third and five from their 40 with the clock rolling under 30 seconds in the half.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Basanez misses Herbert on a timing route in between levels in the zone.|
|2||10||O49||Pass||16||Basanez steps up into the pocket, avoiding Jamison, and fires downfield. We're in a zone again, and Harrris(-1) starts chasing Sutton, vacating a massive hole in the zone.|
|1||10||M35||Pass||35||Touchdown. Mason's(-1) beat deep and tries to interfere but the catch is made anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-17, EOH. Bleah.|
|1||10||O20||Run||16||Another clever blocking scheme designed to open a hole in the line between the DTs. The OT immediately releases upfield and gets a block on Burgess while the OG kicks out Woods and a pulling OG uses Massey's(-1) momentum to open up a big hole. Not a smart play by Massey. He should know something's up when he's released and not fly upfield. Watson(-1) is stoned by the center here. Burgess does well to beat his block but again misses a tackle.|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Inc||A lot of time to throw but no one open. Bas eventually attempts to dump it off to Sutton but it's short.|
|2||10||O36||Penalty||-10||An obvious holding call on a Basanez QB sneak. Crable(+2) is lined up as a standing DT and just goes right around the NW offensive lineman to draw the call. He still makes the tackle.|
|2||20||O26||Pass||Inc||Philmore drops a slant that would have picked up 6-8.|
|3||20||O26||Pass||Sack, -16||More Crable as the standing DT.Van Alstyne(+1) drives between the tackle and guard, allowing Crable(+2) to wrap around, defeat a half-block by the center, and then close on Basanez to make a crippling sack.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-17, 13 min 3rd Q. Okay, let's track these holding calls for hint of bias. This first one gets called 100% of the time. Also: welcome to Michigan football, Shawn Crable. I don't know if he'll ever find a role against teams like Wisconsin, but he's been a really effective pass rusher.|
|1||10||O23||Penalty||-10||Holding on Herbert on an option. He was clearly holding, as Herbert had a death grip on the outside shoulder of Englemon, but this only gets called 75% of the time. Harris and Woods play this well, by the way.|
|1||20||O13||Pass||4||Shovel pass. Woods(+2) makes a great play, forcing Bas to pitch and then collapsing on the pitchman and making the tackle.|
|2||16||O17||Pass||Inc||Philmore is open past the first down sticks and drops a slightly high ball. He has to catch that.|
|3||16||O17||Pass||Inc||Rolled pocket. When Bas reaches the sideline he ends up with Branch(+1) bearing down on him with only a three man rush. He tosses it downfield and Michigan's all over the coverage. It's Burgess(+1) and Engelmon(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-17, 9 min 3rd Q. Second hold is clearly legit as well, though it's not a call you absolutely have to make.|
|1||10||O36||Run||19||Same play they gashed us with on the first play of the second half, this time to the other side of the field where Watson(-1) takes the bait. Burgess(-2) is very tentative here. If he is decisive he has an opportunity to meet this in the hole but since he sits back a WR calmly blocks him and Sutton has an easy path into the secondary instead of a minimal gain.|
|1||10||M47||Pass||6||Long handoff that we were doomed on from the start with one DB to a side with 2 WRs. Probably should have gone for more but the WR takes a weird path.|
|2||4||M41||Run||1||Watson(+1) moves around his man and makes the tackle on a shotgun counter trap.|
|3||3||M40||Penalty||-10||Holding on what would have been a first down. This one is pretty weak, as Branch spins past the center and seemingly just falls down, but I can understand how it looked to the ref. Branch(+1) draws it.|
|3||13||50||Scramble||7||Jamison(+2) comes screaming around the tackle and would likely have had himself a killer sack if not held. Basanez is forced to scramble futilely.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-17, 6 min 3rd Q. Third one is weak but I can see why the ump threw it. It looked like Branch had spun free and was about to kill Basanez before being taken down but Branch was falling mostly under his own momentum. Another impressive play from Jamison.|
|1||10||O37||Pass||Inc||Massey(+1) is all over this screen.|
|2||10||O37||Penalty||-10||Holding and thi s one is a must call as Watson(+2) owns Belding and would have crushified Sutton in the backfield without it.|
|2||20||O27||Run||5||Same gash play. Massey and Woods handle it better this time.|
|3||15||O32||Pass||Inc||Fields is open downfield and Basanez drops it in there about as well as he can but it's a little behind the wide receiver.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-17, 3 min 3rd Q. Basanez is not getting much help from his wideouts. They've had a lot of opportunities to make catches that may be somewhat difficult, but they're catchable. Avant would have caught them.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||-2||Play action screen. Hall(+2) reads the screen, beats the blocker, and makes the TFL. Good on yer.|
|2||12||O18||Pass||Inc||Goddamn, Tim Jamison(+2) is going to be a monster. On this play he engages with the OT and then just blows him up. He's about six inches from an impressive sack as Bas is rolling to his side of the field. Bas manages to get a pass off at the very last second but the receiver can't toe the line.|
|3||12||O18||Pass||0||No, you didn't block Shawn Crable(+2) on this screen. Where did you come from, son?|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-17, 12 min 4th Q. Three consecutive excellent plays. Top marks go to Jamison, though. He's a freak.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||18||Ton of time; Basanez finds a man open in the zone.|
|1||10||O38||Pass||1||Bails out and hits the checkdown falling out of bounds.|
|2||9||O39||Penalty||-10||Holding on Thiry, and this one is also definite as Thiry just tackled Jamison(+1)|
|2||19||O29||Pass||Inc||Basanez attempts to check down to Sutton. It's slightly overthrown and bounces off Sutton's fingertips.|
|3||19||O29||Pass||13||Completed Sutton checkdown.|
|4||6||O42||Pass||Inc||Sutton drops a sure first down.|
|Drive Notes: Downs, 33-17, 6 min 4th Q. This game will probably harsh the Sutton buzz in a major way. He got 50 yards on 10 carries, fumbled to Leon Hall, and has these two coffin-nail drops. He's still going to be a thorn for the next three years.|
|2||1||O45||Pass||7||Clearly in a prevent here, fine by me.|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Inc||Trent(+1) breaks on this ball and nearly intercepts it. A very nice play reminiscent of his EMU interception.|
|2||10||M48||Pass||5||Sutton checkdown again, another nice play by Trent(+1), this one an open-field tackle.|
|3||5||M43||Pass||Inc||Basanez is a little short on a downfield throw.|
|4||5||M43||Pass||Inc||Harrison(+1) pounds the final nail with a really nice zone read and close to get a PBR.|
|Drive Notes: Downs, 33-17, 3 min 4th Q. EOG for the D.|
Briefly: the refereeing?
Bad nocall on a PI on Mason; likewise when Avant was held on third down. One of the holding calls in the second half was bogus-but-understandable, one was obviously holding but not necessarily called every time, the other three are always called. Overall, fine.
You eviscerated the defense last week for giving up 420 yards and 17 points in regulation and they did it again, so...
Not this time. This was a much better defensive performance. As the Monday column mentioned, in the Iowa game the defense faced 11 drives; in this one they faced 16. Grant Mason got all up in the grill of Northwestern wideouts, Basanez was forced to make a large number of heroic plays to get the yards they did, and the defensive line made Northwestern line go splat (save for the times when they were outsmarted). There's a difference between Iowa killing drives by blocking someone in the back or dropping a pass and Michigan killing drives by treating Principal Belding like he isn't there.
The chart shows this clearly:
You will be healthy for
|Massey||1||2||-1||Is what he is.|
|Watson||6||2||4||I think putting the redshirt freshman center opposite him without help was... unwise.|
|Jamison||7||-||7||On his way. Redshirt last year is a blessing in disguise.|
|Burgess||5||4||1||Made more good plays this week and got rave reviews from a lot of people, but he also made some bad ones that were more subtle.|
|Harris||4||1||3||Unbelievably deep drops in coverage.|
|Graham||-||-||-||Didn't play much as Michigan spent most of the game in nickel.|
|Crable||6||-||6||Best game at Michigan. Clearly has a talent for getting to the quarterback.|
|Engelmon||2||-||-||Didn't play much.|
|Harrison||3||-||-||Hold onto the ball.|
|Barringer||-||2||-2||Monster bust was the only play I noted.|
Basanez was under duress much of the night and when he wasn't it was usually because one of the offensive linemen was busy practicing for his knots merit badge. Michigan alternated man and zone and got burned on it a couple times, but outside of that Basanez was largely forced to make great plays to move the ball. Some dropped passes helped and Northwestern shot itself in the foot some but it's hard to move the ball when the only way you can block the opponent is by holding them.
What has happened to Massey?
Probably nothing. He was getting some stats and what seemed like pretty good pass rush last year, but that seems like a mirage now. This year he has 23 tackles through 9 games but only 10 are solos. He has one sack and no TFLs outside of that. If I added up all the +/- I think he would easily finish in last. The move inside from a 3-4 DE to a 4-3 DT has hurt him. When was the last time you saw a 6'8", 285 pound defensive tackle? He just can't get leverage at his height and weight. He's fine in pursuit--witness the screen he tracked down against the Wildcats--but hasn't beat an offensive lineman all year when the play has been run directly at him.
Who was that masked man?
Charles Woodson got real tall all of a sudden, huh? Or are you talking about Jamison? It could be either. Each turned in a selection of tantalizing plays where they slapped the taste out of an offensive lineman's mouth and then chased Basanez like howling ninja banshees. Crable even made a good play downfield by blowing up a screen. I'm not exactly sure where Crable's role is on this defense--I still remember Calhoun loping downfield outside of him--but his main problem when rushing the passer is running right by the quarterback because he's too fast. This is a good problem to have.
Jamison... wow. He's maybe 250 or 260 and thus technically undersized but he explodes into offensive tackles. Either that or he teleports past them. If Michigan's defensive scheme can't find a starting spot for him next year it's the wrong scheme. No offense to Biggs or Van Alstyne but Jamison is on another level. If Woodley returns (and Mel Kiper recently said he was the "fifth or sixth" best junior defensive end, XOXOXO Mel) Michigan may have one of the best sets of defensive ends in the country plus Branch inside. That's geting ahead of ourselves, though. Hopefully he doesn't try to put on 15 pounds. He doesn't need to be any stronger from appearances and I'd hate it if he started plodding around.
Burgess played well, didn't he?
Much better than against Iowa, yes. Not great. He's a lot like Henne in that he clearly has all the athletic ability he could possibly need but is lagging mentally. He was in position to make an important stop on Tyrell Sutton on their last-ditch first half drive and overran the play. Leon Hall was in position on the outside there and there was no reason to allow Sutton a cutback lane. Later the Burgess pendulum swung too far the other way on a 20 yard Sutton run when Burgess sat and waited to get blocked instead of attacking the hole. He made a number of impressive plays when he read the play right but he's still a tick slow several times a game.
If he can understand what he's doing as well as Harris he'll play as well as Harris, and then we'll be cooking. That's a key thing to watch going into next season. It's a shame he didn't redshirt--how much better does Burgess play look if he's a redshirt sophomore with two years left? Now we have to hope he puts it together next year.
What does it mean for Indi... er, Ohio State?
I wouldn't expect to see much of Mason's super-aggressive side. He's broken that out twice this year against teams with sort of meh wideouts. Holmes and Ginn are not meh. I'd like to see it, honestly. Smith makes poor decisions when pressured, and that can come from the corners just as well as the DBs. That is playing with fire. Fire, eh, we're cool.
Assuming Woodley is back and healthy, and let's not contemplate the alternative, I would very much like to see Branch get the majority of Massey's snaps. I realize that I've said this for about six straight games, but by the time OSU rolls around we should have every DE on the roster healthy. Jamison and Woods have played very well in Woodley's absence and have made more big plays in the last two games than Massey has all season. Branch was a monster at DT early in the year. If we're concerned about giving up gashing running yards, make Woodley the strongside DE and allow Jamison and Woods to pursue. This is doubly important because Smith is mobile and as we've seen lately the difference between someone who can run down a rolling quarterback and, say, Van Alstyne or Biggs is often the difference between a punt and a first down.
My major concerns are twofold:
- The problems with our outside linebackers persist and the Ohio State running game finds just as much success as everyone else has this year. If the safeties can play two deep I'll feel much better because issue number two is...
- Getting beat deep. Michigan's been very good about cutting off the big play this year, and this game has the look of a low-scoring slugfest. Long touchdowns == bad, mmkay.
The third, lurking thing is that despite the plethora of spread offenses we've gone up against we haven't really faced a running quarterback. Stanton's morphed into more of a passer and hardly crossed the line of scrimmage against us. Robinson had a couple of QB draws and a scramble or two but mostly looked to throw. That probably has something to do with our linebacker-delay tactic, but I still consider the running-QB defense to be somewhat untested.