here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Best Ever. If you happen to know any Buckeyes well enough to be in the awkward position of exchanging gifts at holidays, I cannot recommend anything more strongly than this shirt:
There is also a Michigan State version. Tellingly, Michigan is omitted. Take that, Harbaugh!
Open house. The Big Ten Network's embarked on a barnstorming tour of the midwest; yesterday they stopped in at Michigan. There is an unrevealing story from the Free Press; more interesting is a Daily article from a few days ago with some increased detail on the negotiations:
In the next few weeks, Silverman thinks the network will sign with several cable and satellite distributors - Time Warner, Dish Network and Charter - but he won't count on Comcast.
"I need to consider Comcast as hoping, not expecting," Silverman said. "I will know more in the next couple of weeks about Comcast. That will be one that will go very close to the launching."
That's the first indication negotiations with any one provider are more strained than others and probably a good sign. If Time Warner, Dish, and Charter agree to carry it on basic, a price will be established and Comcast's holdout will seem untenable.
The Hoover Street Rag went on a field trip and reported back. The network remains uncompromising on expanded basic:
There are LOTS of negotiations currently going on, and again, deals on this kind of thing get done very late. Or as Mr. Silverman put it "very, very, very, very late." Mr. Silverman also noted that if he has his way, he would prefer not to be negotiating, but that is not the case. It is the position of the network that it should be broadly distributed on extended basic. Not on a sports tier, not on digital. It should be part of your 70 basic channels you get with your monthly cable bill. He went on to note that the Network is willing to negotiate on every single other point but they will not move on the extended basic part.
Also, HSR didn't get a parking ticket. Nice.
Oh, yeah, that guy. After a brief, intense burst of Beilein mania things here have settled back down into the status quo of mostly ignoring the thing that causes us pain. Beilein's recruiting hasn't been particularly newsworthy after the commitment of Syracuse center Ben Cronin -- he's focusing mostly on under-the-radar types, which distresses some -- but Nathan Fenno sheds some light on how things are going in an interview with our new savior:
Q: Would you like to add another player to the 2008 class?
Beilein: We would like to take an 08. And if we find two kids we like in 08, we'll take them. We're going to plan on seeing who we recruit first. If we don't get what we think is the right fit, then we'll move onto 09.
But we have some guys we think maybe the right fit. We might get three weeks into practice and say, 'Anthony Wright is this guy. Let's wait until 09.' We're gathering information.
Q: What sort of reponse have you recieved from recruits and their coaches?
Beilein: Two things I'm very happy with. No. 1, I think a lot of the young men have an appreciation for Michigan and the Big Ten, the University of Michigan, they know that name. The other thing is how many people have enjoyed watching West Virginia play the last three or four years.
We have an awful lot of high school coaches who have followed us. It's easier to get a recommendation from them to their player. Even though they may not know a lot about Michigan, they have seen West Virginia on television a great deal in the last couple years. There's a connection there I didn't didn't expect and I'm happy.
I expect another recruit no one is salivating over with to round out '08, then hope for some higher profile types once Beilein starts turning Michigan into a non-laughingstock.
Yorgen borgen flurgen forward. The Ann Arbor News profiles incoming Swede Carl Hagelin, a 6th round pick of the Rangers:
Hagelin captained Sodertalje SK in the J20 SuperElit Sodra, leading the league with 24 goals and 31 assists in 40 games. He sees himself as an offensive energy player who shouldn't take long to adjust from the 100-foot-wide Olympic-size ice sheets in Sweden to the 85-foot-wide rinks used mostly in North America.
"The rink is so much smaller, so it will be a different kind of game for me," Hagelin said. "Much faster, more physical game. I'm pretty fast and I think I can use my speed a lot."
There is also a profile on Shawn Hunwick, the new Mike O'Malley.
Etc.: We already knew this, but Bass is out this year. The article doesn't state it, but his return is highly improbable. Mallett will be "difficult to beat out" as the #2 QB; no redshirt coming. Maize 'n' Brew previews Notre Dame. Pickin' On The Big Ten ramps up a season preview.
Ohio TE Kevin Koger has made final visits to Michigan and Ohio State and could announce a decision at any time, so I'd like to get this out there now in case something happens before Monday Recruitin' gets up. Unfortunately, the prevailing winds on this one point towards Ohio State. When the best spin GBW can come up with is...
Has U-M Made Up Ground For Kevin Koger?
...that ain't good. The array of OSU insiders at Bucknuts.com are all confident on some level or another:
The other big name that will decide soon is TE/DE Kevin Koger from Toledo Whitmer. He has been down to OSU and UM for months and seems to be leaning strongly towards the Buckeyes. As most fans know, Koger's father grew up in Detroit and is a Michigan fan. Koger wants to play tight end in college and he has had nothing but great things to say about OSU of late.
The vibe is positive surrounding several uncommitted players, and there's no reason to believe that this year's class won't finish strong. Many expect Kevin Koger, who visited OSU and Michigan this week, to be next, followed soon by Illinois defensive tackle Garrett Goebel.
"We" also seem confident in landing both Kevin Koger and Garrett Goebel. Some even seem cocky.
That is also not good; it looks like a Michigan commitment at this point would be an upset. I wouldn't call it a shock if said upset came through, but we are not the favorite.
As long as we pick up PA h-back Christian Wilson the damage to our class will be minimal, but there's no way to spin this one: losing Koger -- a player we were on first at a position of need whose dad is a Michigan fan -- to OSU would be a nasty representation of the direction the rivalry has gone lately. Nothing to get too worked up about; still mildly alarming. Suggestion: win this year.
Rook profiles. A couple incoming freshman have been featured in recent days. PA WR Toney Clemons was the focus of an article in RISE:
"He's a kid who really hasn't reached his full potential yet, and that's a scary thing," says Hill, a former Pitt defensive back who completed his third season as head coach last fall. "We have yet to see the best of Toney Clemons. He's a kid who always steps up to the challenges."
Track has been a similar success story for Clemons. As a sophomore, he captured the WPIAL Class AA title in the long jump (20 feet, 10.25 inches) and finished second at state in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.74, one-tenth of a second behind Nate Kiss of Windber Area.
As a junior, Clemons captured WPIAL titles in the long jump (21-5) and 110 hurdles (14.61). He also won state in the long jump (23-2) and 110 hurdles (14.36).
My favorite revelation: Toney's mother is named "Tonie". I really, really, really want his father to be "Tony." Because then they would be these guys:
The Wichita Eagle profiles JUCO LB Austin Panter:
"My first couple days in the weight room, I saw Rose Bowl this and Rose Bowl that," Panter said. "And then I realized all the guys in there that I saw play on TV last year. Practicing with a Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Shawn Crable, it's not so much overwhelming but very exciting."
What, no Zoltan love?
Thanks, MSC. Interesting article on the President's discretionary fund has this revelation:
Coleman ordered up two new public service announcements to run on TV during Michigan football games after receiving complaints about the old announcements. "People had been screaming at me about how rinky-dink our public service announcement looked,'' she said, and she agreed, calling it an "abomination.''
The new announcements cost $220,298, but were well worth the cost because they projected a first-rate image of the university, she said.
Mary Sue Coleman is the baby daddy of "Space, Bitches." For this, we are eternally grateful.
One of these receivers is not like the others. Braylon's bowling thing came off; the media asked questions; Braylon responded:
What did wearing No. 1 mean to you at Michigan? It meant a lot. If you look at the Nos. 1 of the past, they always were the guys that were held to the highest standard. They're always the guys, in crunch time and big situations, that would get the ball. Anthony Carter, the David Terrells, the Tyrone Butterfields, Derrick Alexander. People were looking to these players.
Um... okay? Butterfield's greatest contribution as a Wolverine was dropping a third down pass against Virginia, giving Michigan time to hit Mercury Hayes on the last play of the game to open the Scott Dreisbach era.
Ex-Bucks. Four OSU players have left the team in recent days. One was a walk-on DT, but the others all had scholarships: DEs Walter Dublin and Ryan Williams and corner EJ Underwood. The Dispatch article says that Underwood was the only player expected to push for playing time this year; anyone have more detail?
The Matrix... decides! Scout is temporarily free until July 4th, so I can bring you this quote from Sam McGuffie:
We asked Sam, did you feel comfortable at Michigan?
"Definitely ... everyone here made me feel at home here, like I belong, like family ... I've got (Ryan) Mallett sitting here with me right now."
As far as announcing a college decision, McGuffie said:
"I'll be ready to say something when I get home."
When asked for a timetable, he said:
"I'll probably get something set up for next week."
I'll bet dollars to donuts he's a Wolverine within two weeks. Obligatory youtube:
Etc.: IBFC returns with a post on the nasty things Corwin Brown and Jim Harbaugh have been saying. Et tu, brutes? The Hoosier Report is covering the BTN mucho: Delaney gets his wig on straight again; more details on the launch. Solon summarizes everything I've ever thought about Erin Andrews on Addicted to Quack.
Spring such and such for Michigan's most important 2007 opponents happened over the weekend. A recap!
I am of the opinion that when your fourth-string quarterback is the most impressive passer at your spring game, you might have issues. Anthony Morelli didn't play much; when he did BSD fill-in The Nittany Line didn't sound impressed. Neither did he endorse Austin Scott, who came to Penn State with a barrel of hype four years ago and has one good game against Florida State to show for it. He's the starter by default but...
Scott averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 13 carries but didn't really show me anything. He looked like he got to the corner pretty quick but I think he still tends to "dance" a bit when he should be burring his head and getting the extra yard. That may be an unfair assessment since I'm used to seeing Tony Hunt, the human plow, take tacklers head on. Like Mike thought, we didn't really get a chance to see Scott's blocking ability and that is probably his biggest weakness up to this point.
The wide receivers didn't show much that was unexpected. They're all decent enough but uninspiring. Sophomore Chris Bell had an impressive spring and should find himself featured at some point. He has something -- size -- that PSU's current cast of mighty mites lacks. Derrick Williams has not deviated from his distinctively Breastonian career path thus far.
Defense: Irritatingly, it appears that Chris Rogers -- a Pennsylvania native who transferred from Michigan after a redshirt year claiming homesickness -- is going to start at defensive end. Rogers either has rich or annoyed parents, since Big Ten rules prohibit Penn State from giving an intra-conference transfer any scholarship money.
The second corner is probably going to be AJ Wallace. We might be catching him at a vulnerable point:
Wallace got burned a couple of times last year in coverage, and JoePa's comments about Wallace in the pre-game presser are not especially encouraging: "When he's healthy, he's a very gifted athlete. [My only criticism is] every once in a while, he's a little loosey-goosey out there. When you're playing corner, loosey-goosey could be six points." Uh, no kidding.
BSD echoes that assessment:
A.J. seemed a tad lost a couple times I watched him, but he also showed me some really good recovery speed. I think it's only a matter of experience before Wallace fulfills the potential he came to PSU with.
Wallace was a fairly shirtless recruit a couple years ago and Justin King is a potential All-American (argh), but if Wallace is "loosey-goosey" and we manage to get Manningham lined up across from him great success could be in the offing.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Nothing of note happened in the Penn State spring. Morelli's the starting quarterback, there are major questions on the offensive line and in the person of talented but enigmatic Austin Scott. The defense projects to be at least pretty good, though they'll need someone to step forward on the line. No information was gathered on that project.
A similar situation: the big star of the spring game was someone called "Junior Jabbie," a man who sounds like the hero of a low-rent 80s-era knockoff arcade game, and his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries. I don't know if Jabbie's performance highlighted the absurdity of trying to draw conclusions from any spring game or what, because no Irish blogger bothered to say anything substantive. Rakes: nothing. HRB: nothing. Irish Roundtable: nothing. BGS: skepticism about the coming Jabbie era but little else about actual on-field events. A 10-6 victory where the only touchdowns come from a badly overthrown interception return and a wounded duck from a hit-while-throwing Demetrius Jones tends to mute enthusiasm.
I did find some impressions from the obscurer sections of Notre Dame blogdom, though not many. "Her Loyal Sons" says Jimmah looked good:
Our reporter K-man's opinion was that Jimmy Clausen looked the most comfortable under center, and that Demetrius and Frazer looked decidedly uncomfortable. Take one man's opinion on 'comfort level' with a grain of salt, but it's pretty telling that he felt the other two big QB recruits didn't even look comfortable let alone efficient or good.
The blog arm of UNHD says not so fast:
Quarterbacks weren't overly impressive. Jones fumbled (which his team recovered) and had a pick returned for a touchdown, Frazer threw a pick, Sharpley fumbled (which he also didn't lose), and Clausen missed some receivers.
Sharpley had the best command of the offense and moved the chains the best of the four.
When Jimmah was given the opportunity to win the dang game, results weren't good:
And with two minutes left in the game, with the Blue trailing 10-6, Clausen took the field with a chance to wow the sun-drenched crowd. Instead the sequence went: Travis Thomas four-yard run, incomplete pass to John Carlson in traffic, an intentional throwaway under pressure that looked like it was intended for Parseghian, an offensive pass-interference penalty and an incomplete pass to Robby Parris on fourth-and-21.
No quarterback did well. Clausen was 3 of 7 for 23 yards. Jones was 3-6 and threw a pick six. Sharpley was 5 of 7 for 31 yards but was sacked for negative 39. Zach Frazer threw four passes; the only one that was caught was intercepted. Between both teams Notre Dame chose to run the ball 54 times to just 24 passes.
But never fear! Some commenters pointed out this Wayne Drehs article from ESPN.com:
Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen's play was, well, unremarkable. Which is just the way Charlie Weis wanted it.
Coming from Wayne Drehs in November: "Charlie Weis, the iconoclast genius, has discovered a way for Notre Dame to cease extending its bowl losing streak: fail to qualify for one. Yes, it's all going to plan for the only man to set foot on the moon... with his mind!"
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: The quarterback competition will go into the fall. Given how the offensive line got overrun in pass protection against a defensive line that has very little talent (according to recruiting gurus, at least), the run-pass ratio Weis broke out in the spring game might not be far off from the one deployed during the year.
I talked with Vijay about this a bit: it's amazing how crap Ohio State's quarterback recruiting has been over the past few years.
- 2007: no recruits.
- 2006: Antonio Henton, a three star who was Rivals #9 "dual-threat QB" and only the 25th best recruit in Georgia. Committed to OSU over Illinois, Maryland, and Louisville.
- 2005: Rob Schoenhoft. Four-star who was Rivals' #6 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Michigan.
- 2003: Todd Boeckman, a three-star and Rivals #19 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Pitt and Maryland.
That doesn't look too bad -- a little thin, but not awful -- until you consider the strange case of Schoenhoft. He's 6'5" and apparently a camp superstar. He had an impressive ranking from Rivals and some nice offers, but some seriously strange high school statistics. As a junior he completed 37% of his passes. As a senior he was better but only slightly, completing 45%. What's the deal? EDSBS picked up a report from a Buckeye that pieces the puzzle together:
Who will replace Troy Smith? ... Not Rob Schoenhoft. God, he sucks. Think "Sexy Rexy," but without the talent. Fuck it. He's throwing downfield, and by God, it will leave his hand at mach 8.
Michigan and OSU offered him on the basis of a big arm and prototype size; Schoenhoft has little else. Henton is black and short and is thus universally compared to Troy Smith. Does anyone remember how bad Troy Smith was early in his career? Yeah...
Henton did have a very Smith-esque game, going 8/16 for 40 yards, 3 picks, and 2 fumbles.
Zounds! Buckeye Commentary has some impressions of his own. Sounds similar to the Michigan spring along the lines: starters are being held out and the projected first string defensive line is dominating the backups. From the sounds of it Boeckman is solid but uninspiring, a Krenzel type.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Boeckman starter. If he sucks or is injured OSU is in deep trouble. No conclusions can be drawn about the defense given the QB situation and the absence of non-Maurice Wells tailbacks, but most of those guys return so it should be about the same. Expect Ohio State to revert to Tresselball this year. Chris Wells is going to get run ragged, the special teams and defense will be good to infuriating, etc, etc.
No one lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.
Fish in a barrel! (Nietzche Family Circus @ right randomly and serendipitously generated.)
I've had this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article about Troy Smith's falling draft stock open in my browser window the last couple days in case I bothered to do a Fanhouse post about it. I won't now -- dated -- but it's given us all so much more, as Stewart Mandel saw it and immediately rushed off to pen an epically stupid column that gets the Fire Joe Morgan treatment below.
Let's hit it.
Classic combine confusion
Scouts foolish to ignore QB Smith's college success
I suppose there might be an argument in here, albeit one whose primary adherent appears to be Matt Millen.
For all that Troy Smith accomplished the past two-plus years at Ohio State, I don't think I've ever been more impressed with him than I am right now. After I read the various reports out of last weekend's NFL combine in Indianapolis, it's become apparent that Smith managed to win a Heisman Trophy, rack up ridiculous passing stats and lead his team to 20 straight victories in spite of the fact he's a crappy quarterback.
Note: no one has ever claimed Troy Smith is a crappy quarterback. Crappy quarterbacks do not get taken in the NFL draft, let alone in the third or fourth round. Many, many good to great collegiate quarterbacks have done worse than that, including the man who knocked up the woman you aspire to be.
Yep. You read that right. The NFL cognoscenti have spoken. After eyeballing Smith in shorts and watching him throw 18 practice passes against no defense, the connoisseurs with the clipboards and the stop watches have decreed that the former Ohio State quarterback, to put it simply, stinks. Once considered a late-first or early second-round pick, Smith will now be fortunate to land in the third or fourth round based on the buzz in Indy.
The next paragraph will make it clear that Mandel's getting all of this from the aforementioned Journal-Sentinel article, so it might be useful to bring in the thing he's cribbing from:
Two days before Smith won the Heisman Trophy by landslide in early December, two executives in personnel for NFL teams projected him as a second-round draft choice. Another personnel director went so far as to label him a mid- to late first-round selection.
Do you know what two major events happened between the projections Mandel holds dear to his heart and the combine? The MNC game and the Senior Bowl. Smith's combined numbers across those two games: 9 for 29 for 87 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and one back-breaking fumble. At the Senior Bowl, Smith practiced and played in front of NFL scouts from every team in the league for a full week. None were particularly impressed. Both of these things had a much greater impact on his draft stock than a few balls thrown at the combine, but let's not let actual facts get in the way here.
Also: "stinks" again, when clearly they're going to draft him somewhere.
As one AFC personnel director told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "He's six feet tall, he's not a super fast guy and he's not super athletic. ... I don't think he's horrible. He's just a guy."
These are all reasonable criticisms.
See what I'm saying? How can you not admire a guy who's short, slow and unathletic yet managed to win the most prestigious award in college football?
It's like someone who can't act winning an Oscar.
Or someone who can't sing winning American Idol.
We already knew about everything Smith overcame in his childhood and early OSU years to achieve gridiron glory, but the fact that he managed to do all that despite being "just a guy?" Wow. I can't even begin to imagine what his stats would have been if he was actually a stud.
"Just a guy" in NFL does not equal "just a guy" in college. For an example, pick just about any player ever. I know the idea that the NFL is harder to play in than college must have filtered into your skull at some point.
Before I continue, let me just make the disclaimer that I have never considered Smith to be a sure-fire Hall of Famer. I realize he has his limitations. For months, however, I've maintained that, if given the opportunity, Smith would establish himself as a solid NFL starter. How did I reach this conclusion? Umm ... by watching him play?
And of course none of the NFL scouts who are paid to do this -- and are much, much smarter than you when the topic is football instead of, say, "looking like a fatter version of Subway Jared" -- bothered to watch his games. Or those Senior Bowl practices. And they have no idea what players are likely to fit into the systems employed at a higher level of play.
But now it seems that Smith is being lumped in with the Gino Torretta/Chris Weinke/Eric Crouch/Jason White class of Heisman-winning quarterbacks, destined to flame out at the next level. Here's the thing. Torretta was barely a top-20 passer his senior year. Weinke was 87 years old. Crouch ran the option. White had no functioning knees. About the only thing Smith has in common with those guys is the trophy they won.
The same trophy which was the linchpin of your argument mere paragraphs ago. Perhaps the fact that all these quarterbacks are supremely unsuited to sit in the pocket and rifle balls over the outstretched hands of defenders but managed to win the award is an indication that the Heisman trophy is more of a joke than the idea that an attractive 23-year-old will sleep with you at said trophy's ceremony because "You're Stewart Mandel... THE Stewart Mandel"*.
*(This actually happened according to a friend of mine who was part of the media for the event.)
Well, and one other thing: The national-championship game flop. Smith's nightmare performance against Florida is when all this backlash started.
I wonder why?
Because he's "just a guy," Smith was unable to escape oncoming Gator pass-rushers/freight trains Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey as they routinely plowed through Smith's blockers like they were made of cellophane. As we all know, JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn would have spun free of those defenders and completed 70-yard passes.
With such considerable evidence against Smith's worth as a quarterback, I figure there's only one possible explanation for how he won all those games in college: He's an illusionist. Yep. A full-on David Copperfield/David Blaine-caliber performer. All those times you thought you were watching Smith pick apart Texas or throw the game-winning touchdown against Michigan? He was actually throwing incompletions at his receivers' feet. He fooled you.
This is just awful. I don't know where to begin. First: more arrogant assumption he knows more than NFL talent evaluators because he sat on his couch cramming donuts into his face and went "wow... Troy Smith" this fall. This sort of hard-hitting analysis you can get from literally anyone with a TV. Second: a third attempt to convince you that a quarterback who is an ill fit for the NFL game who will be drafted in the third or fourth round has been retroactively declared a crappy college player. Third: none of this is funny in the slightest.
These NFL scouting guys, however, they don't fall for that stuff. They're too smart. These guys get paid the big bucks precisely because of their ability to spot the previously undetected imperfections of college players that we la
y people miss.
This attempted sarcasm is absolutely correct.
And boy do they earn every penny, whether by determining Mario Williams to be a better pro prospect than Reggie Bush,
...or that Mario Williams was easier to sign and played a position that the Texans had greater need of...
that Vince Young won't be able to make the transition to the NFL,
...the NFL was so sure Vince Young couldn't make the transition to the NFL that he fell all the way to the THIRD PICK IN THE DRAFT...
that Ernie Sims would be more valuable to the Lions than Matt Leinart
...Matt Millen may actually be stupider than you...
or that Drew Brees was only worthy of a second-round pick.
...Brees was the first pick of the second round and the second quarterback selected behind Michael Vick. This is not exactly a strident condemnation.
I mention Brees, the former Purdue quarterback-turned-New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler, because he happens to suffer from the same, career-jeopardizing affliction as Troy Smith: Being 6-feet tall. This, according to the scouts, is the single biggest reason Smith might not succeed in the pros. "That's the only negative on the guy," Chiefs president Carl Peterson told the Journal Sentinel. "And [defenders] get bigger every year. It gets more and more difficult to look over guys."
I mention the thousands of thousands of failed six-foot quarterbacks because there's such a thing as a "heuristic" that does very well for drafters of all sorts.
You see, this is why I could never hack it as an NFL personnel guy.
No, the reason you couldn't hack it as an NFL personnel guy is that you are incapable of understanding logic, probability, statistics, history, or football.
Here I was, thinking that most men reach their adult height by the time they're 17 or 18, meaning that if Smith could throw over, say, 6-4 Texas defensive end Tim Crowder in the Buckeyes' game against the Longhorns last September, it stands to reason he would be able to do the same thing when the two face each other in the NFL next season. But according to Peterson, NFL defenders just keep getting bigger. Presumably, in a few years, Crowder will be 7-2, and by then Smith simply won't stand a chance.
As noted, the Buckeye offense revolved around outside routes, rollouts, and the shotgun in an effort to take advantage of Smith's particular skills and de-emphasize his height disadvantage. (I thought you "ummmm... watched him play"?) NFL teams don't run that sort of offense because long experience has taught them it doesn't do very well for whatever reason. A team is forced to do one of two things: attempt to fit Smith into its offense or completely revamp it for a rookie who isn't a walking pile of impossible like Vince Young. Note the above "just a guy" mention.
"You [reporters] make it seem like being 6 feet is a disease or something," Smith said at the combine. "I stand before you now wanting to talk about some of the positive things that are going on, but yet still we keep on talking about the negatives. I don't understand."
What's not to understand, Troy? The experts have spoken. You're short. You can't throw. And your entire college career was a lie. Enjoy wearing that baseball cap on the sideline next season while charting plays for some undrafted free agent your employer just loves because they don't have to pay him anything and because he's got "tremendous upside."
A second mindboggling contradiction: the NFL hates the undrafted free agent more than Troy Smith. That's why the undrafted free agent was undrafted and not picked in the third or fourth round like Smith. But all of a sudden the NFL team "just loves" him even though they decided not to expend even a seventh-rounder on him.
Don't feel too bad, though. You'll always have that Heisman Trophy. Maybe one day, when your playing career is over, you can let us in on the secret of how you managed to win that thing despite a lack of any discernible talent. Boy -- you sure got us good.
God. Fat Jared, I hate you. This whole thing is suffused with sarcasm you have no right to wield against people who know way, way more about football than you. (To be fair, this is a vast array of people from Bill Polian to John Madden to Tony Blair to Richard Nixon's corpse all the way down to Matt Millen; chances are whenever you attempt to be sarcastic you are talking to someone who knows more about football than you.) NFL people do think that Troy Smith is an exceptionally talented quarterback for a six-foot guy who operated mostly out of the shotgun and had an offense built around dealing with his shortcomings, pun not intended. That's why they're willing to draft him in the third or fourth round. But make no mistake, his physical stature will be something teams have to work around and he'll be very lucky to be Drew Brees instead of the myriad other short quarterbacks who have failed.
But this isn't really about Troy Smith. He'll get drafted around where he deserves to be drafted. This is about you and your inability to use sarcasm well. Here are some tips:
- Try to have an actual point to make. Sarcasm is much more effective when you're trying to establish something like "Stewart Mandel writes dumb things" than "Troy Smith should be drafted higher" because the former has a wealth of evidence more detailed than "ummm... I watched him play."
- Don't go after people who are smarter than you. You'll just look clueless. See our previous contrast.
- Hire some joke writers or something. Seriously.
- Start eating one six-inch veggie sub for lunch and dinner every day.
Last in a series exploring MGoBlog's season previews. Previously: Dregs / Soft Nougaty Middle I / Soft Nougaty Middle II. Full Michigan postmortem coming over the next couple weeks, starting with a midweek Rose Bowl UFR not recommended for children and the elderly.
No headliners remain on the Iowa defense after two years in which graduation has taken Matt Roth, Jonathan Babineaux, Abdul Hodge, and Chad Greenway to the NFL, but the Hawkeyes have star power on the other side of the ball in Drew Tate (the flingingest quarterback this side of the Pecos), Albert Young, and Albert Young's cadaverous ACL. The offensive line is either experienced or OMG shirtless. The defensive line looks poised to resume the terror of the Roth-Babineaux days. The defensive back seven? Well, you can't have everything. There are indeed ominous holes at corner and linebacker.
Despite that, viewers should be prepared for a faceful of Tate this year.
I am thinking of starting up a new service to monetize the blog: each year I accept donations from fans of the three or four Big Ten teams that are getting a medium amount of top-25/Citrus-type hype. Whichever teams coughs up the least dough is treated to the full-on MGoBlog Inexplicable Mancrush season preview treatment and thus a disappointing season that ends somewhere around .500. We're two for two now. In 2005, I predicted that we'd all be eating oatmeal under pictures of our new Dear Leader Joe Tiller as Brandon Kirsch rocked our world and his OSU-M-free schedule en route to the Rose Bowl. Instead, Purdue went to the No Bowl. This year, I decided that Iowa was going to win the Big Ten (close! they were 2-6) and placed them #2 in my preseason Blogpoll.
In conclusion, I suck and am awful.
Betrayed! Drew Tate is the primary reason I was led astray. I was sold by his 2005 vivisection of Michigan -- a game the Hawkeyes somehow managed to lose despite Tate playing out of his mind -- and got caught up in, you know, the copious evidence that Tate was a killer QB:
Drew Tate is one of the best quarterbacks in the country no matter your preferred metric. He has the numbers: two straight years with around 2800 yards passing, a completion percentage hovering around 62 percent, and 22 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions last year. He has the accolades: two years on the All Big Ten teams. And for those who like talking in vague generalities, he is the very avatar of "heart" or "moxie" or whatever you people call it.
Tate must have gotten intensive offseason coaching from Courtney Sims, because he regressed badly as a senior. His interceptions shot up to 13; his touchdowns, completions, and yardage dipped despite having the exact same number of attempts his junior and senior years. Too often he would flash his essential Tate-ness only to throw a hideous Favre-ian interception or wildly overthrow or underthrow his receiver. I plead "inexplicable" here.
Right Idea, Wrong Guy. I closed my eyes and pointed at a melanin-deficient wide receiver to take up Ed Hinkel's mantel, but hit the wrong target:
Redshirt freshman Trey Stross is distinctly Caucasian and thus is guaranteed to be Iowa's annual Inexplicably Great White Receiver at some point in his career. It also helps that Stross displayed velvet hands and great leaping ability in high school.
There was no IGWR for Iowa this year -- no doubt part of their malaise, it's like Michigan without an Immobile Water Buffalo at QB -- until the Alamo Bowl, when Andy Brodell caught a couple short passes and shocked the distinctly melanin-blessed Texas secondary by running his pale ass into the endzone like he was Ted Ginn.
I think this was almost right-ish. I praised the Iowa offensive line's returning starters but worried about a true sophomore stepping into the most critical job on the line:
So those guys have a ton of experience if a fairly uncertain notion of where, exactly, they're supposed to line up before each play. Jones is the most talented, having burst into the starting lineup as a true freshman. He finds himself a preseason All Big Ten pick by The Sporting News (TSN, understandably confused, named him the fifth best guard in the country), Lindy's, and Blue Ribbon. Yanda and Elgin are both somewhere between competent to good. But there is the niggling issue of center and, oh, left tackle. ... True sophomore Dace Richardson is projected to start at left tackle. .... A large portion of the Hawkeye's success this year relies upon how effective last year's crash course as a collegiate lineman was.
Injury and the shuffling it forced opened holes all over Iowa's OL, but when healthy they were the portion of the team least likely to be a major issue.
Half understandable, half stupid. I liked Iowa defensive ends Brian Mattison and Ken Iwebema:
Junior defensive ends Ken Iwebema and Bryan Mattison were both disruptive forces as sophomores, combining for 19.5 TFL and 11 sacks. Iwebema found his way on the the media's selections for first team All Big Ten. While that may say more about the media than Iwebema in a year that featured Tamba Hali, Lamarr Woodley, and Mike Kudla, it does indicate his impressive talent.
IIRC, Iwebema suffered through some academic or disciplinary suspensions or demotions early in the season. Later, a shoulder injury sidelined him for a few games. The result was a disappointing three sacks in limited time. Mattison was excellent against Ohio State and Michigan but his 6.5 sacks were not enough to make up for the disappointing back seven. I gave the unit as a whole a 4:
A repeat of last year's performance will not be enough for the defensive line, however. Minus Hodge and Greenway and with shaky cornerbacks the line will have get more pressure on the quarterback against tough opponents than the did a year ago, when Iowa had one three yard sack against OSU and none against Michigan. If that happens again this year games against good opponents will dissolve into shootouts that Iowa would like to avoid.
You can replace "good opponents" in that last sentence with just "opponents." I thought the DL would be good enough to cover for the rest of the defense. It wasn't.
The linebackers won't be a liability.
Wrong. They were. Iowa ended up 57th in rushing defense. Though Mike Klinkenborg had an awesome name and a lot of tackles, he and his compatriots made precious few actual plays: two sacks and around 20 TFLs for the entire unit. Many of their tackles were of the variety five to eight yards downfield. Many were missed. They weren't good.
But not quite as un-good as these guys!
Adam Shada... well... is from Nebraska, if you know what I mean. He would have to buck an awful lot of history for a guy from Nebraska to become a standout corner on the collegiate level, especially as an unheralded recruit. Many cite his three interceptions from a year ago as reason to believe in his ability, but interceptions are usually fluky events and should not be relied upon for projection. Meanwhile, Godfrey was bouncing to and from safety as recently as last year and seems to have moved to corner because Iowa has no alternatives. It is always, always, always a bad sign when a player goes from backup safety to starting corner over the course of one offseason. Mediocrity here would be great.
Shada, despite his essential Nebraska-ness, was Iowa's best corner. Charles Godfrey picked up Grant Mason dise
ase and finished third on the team in tackles, a sure sign that you're excellent at giving up eight yards on third and six. He was awful. And though Shada was better, it was he who was fluttering at the edge of the frame when highlights of James Hardy's million-touchdown day were broadcast to a shocked Official MGoBlog Residence. The "2" bestowed was correct, though underrated when attempting to assess the team as a whole.
Worst what? Yeah, Iowa was three games worse than the "Worst Case" scenario presented:
Maybe the run defense disintegrates without Greenway and Hodge, but I doubt it. If it does then some wonky corners could make the Iowa defense eminently perforable again. Throw in a lot of drops from the wide receivers, the complete implosion of Richardson, and a lot of bad luck... and Iowa's still very good with a favorable schedule. 9-3.
Yeeeesh. But you know what's even more embarassing? This:
The only downers are a trip to Michigan and the shame that the national championship game is in Arizona instead of New Orleans, which prevents what would have been a beautiful joke about Tates and beads.
Iowa gets OSU in the most favorable spot possible and catches the Buckeyes early in the season when their defense still figures to be breast-feeding. Iowa wins that game, loses to either Michigan or one of the "probable wins" category, and coasts to the Rose Bowl at 11-1.
Coasts to the Rose Bowl! Never listen to anything I say again.
Best Title Ever:
Ohio State: National Chumpions! ZING!
If you ignore the actual content of this preview and pretend that the entirety of my preseason OSU prediction was "national chumpions," then it's the most accurate preview of OSU anywhere. Unfortunately, I kept going.
So I guess it's somewhat logical that when Texas loses that Vince Young guy and OSU returns that Troy Smith guy you put OSU #1 to start the season, but, uh... nine defensive starters, one reliable kicker, and two first round draft picks on offense depart and that doesn't bother anyone? Ohio State -- Ohio freakin' State -- is starting a senior walk-on who has never played a down on defense at cornerback and this raises not an eyebrow? Okay then. I have a hunch that assumptions were made: the secondary will reload. The pass rush will continue. The linebackers will be equally fierce. Ted Ginn can be a primary threat as a receiver.
But I digress. If the media was replaced with a parallel-universe version of itself that senselessly overrated the defensive side of the ball and placed great emphasis on special teams and place OSU 15th or something this intro section would be all "but wait: Marcus Freeman, a mess of five defensive ends from which someone good will emerge, and a longstanding tradition of excellence on D." The Buckeyes have many alluring qualities that nearly offset that walkon-at-corner thing.
But not quite.
This looked way worse before the MNC game.
No doubt horrible bias. One of the assertions that haunted me through the season was this assessment of Antonio Pittman:
Right: not impressed by Antonio Pittman, much to the amusement of Ohio State fans. It's hard to judge his '05 season because there wasn't much data to be had against good run defenses. It appeared to me that he was good at running through big holes and falling down when contacted but struggled to make extra yards. He's not terrible, but I don't think he's anything that, say, Jason Teague wasn't. Ohio State fans fresh off the Mo Hall era may be confusing competence for superstardom.
Pittman was and is better than that, otherwise he wouldn't be off to the NFL. He definitively showed his speed a few times this year -- and let's not talk about that -- but more impressive was his patience setting up his blockers and understanding of how plays were going to develop. I underrated him at the beginning of the year.
Recycling the goat quote. Doug Datish has a career in broadcasting waiting for him if there's a God. Again IIRC, he was the Buckeye who let loose with some hilarious smack about Notre Dame late in the year -- sadly, I can't turn it up on Google... help appreciated. In the preseason he dropped this about Quinn Pitcock:
Datish describes Pitcock with the best quote I've seen in a long time:
"I've hated blocking Quinn since I got here," Datish said. "He's like a goat. I think his legs should be reversed because he's got that weird leverage thing to them. I don't know if there's anybody better in the country."
He's not much of a penetrator but he occupies blockers with the best of them. Patterson's numbers -- 7.5 TFLs and 4 sacks -- look good for a DT, but he played end last year. Three of those sacks came in the Michigan State game, when Stephon Wheeler went out and the Red Sea caved in on Drew Stanton. (On the fourth he bowled over Jake Long to sack Henne.) His move inside makes sense since he was oversized -- 285 pounds -- and not a threat to come around the edge at end. Inside he can use his push and technique to get into the backfield as others take the edge. He's sort of a poor man's Alan Branch.
While Patterson as a poor man's Alan Branch seems a highly adept analogy, describing Pitcock as "not much of a penetrator" but a guy who "occupies blockers with the best of them" is just wrong. I did pan the ineffective Jay Richardson and pump up Gholston:
The pass rush will have to come from elsewhere, probably Cass Tech alum Vernon Gholston. In '04 Gholston was a sleeper recruit described as incredibly athletic (I've seen this picture way too often -- some creepy guy at BuckeyePlanet used it as his sig) but equally raw. Two years later he's apparently progressed better than Alain Kashama did and fought his way into the starting lineup ahead of a couple highly touted recruits. OSU's proven that they can mold defensive linemen; with Gholston's evident natural ability he'll probably be good sooner or later.
So bully for me. This unit came in as a "4," and that was a fair reflection of their talent, IMO.
Animal, etc. Your opinion of my opinion in this section will closely track with your opinion of my opinion about James Laurinaitis (totally overrated):
There's going to be a dropoff here or I'm taking my blog and going home. Freeman should be at least good, though he may be playing out of position due to shortcomings in the other two linebackers. Dispatch blogger Heath Schneider theorizes that the LB switch means Kerr is doomed and true freshman Ross Homan will end up starting once his hamstring injury is healed. Buckeye fans are salivating over Homan but the gurus were pretty meh about him and as a true freshman recovering from an injury if he starts it's a bad sign for this year.
Laurinatis obviously shows a lot of potential to start in front of highly touted JUCO recruit Larry Grant, but he's not AJ Hawk. If he is I'll cry. Kerr... who knows? I have my doubts about him. I think Grant's recruitment -- JUCOs are unusual at OSU -- speaks to question marks about the depth, especially outside, and there's a fair chance that this unit ends up disappointing. Freeman and the rep Tressel and OSU have earned keep this at a three, but it's not all roses and reloading here.
Kerr was indeed a weak spot, often kept off the field by nickel packages, Grant, and Homan. Freeman did not live up to the hype I and recruiting gurus provided; Laurinaitis exceeded it, though not to the extent Brent Musberger and silly awards committe
es would have you believe. All told there was a major dropoff, though soft competition and boatload of turnovers disguised that somewhat. Still: Mike Hart finally got loose. PSU, Texas, and Iowa (to an extent) all ran effectively against the Buckeyes. Tim Tebow, when not getting stomped on, was bulling his way forward. This was not the Hawk crew. And thank God for that.
Not so good. The Buckeye secondary was projected as dire; it was not. Malcolm Jenkins, dismissed in the preview...
True sophomore Malcolm Jenkins "wants to be in contention for the Thorpe Award this year because it means he will be helping the Buckeyes win," which is nice but fanciful. He was a meh recruit two years ago thrust into action as the Buckeyes nickelback due to a severe lack of depth in the defensive backfield. ... He was invisible during the games I saw. That's to be expected for a middling recruit pressed into service as a freshman but it also indicates that Jenkins has a way to go to replace the services of Youbouty. He'll improve, but to improve enough to be an impact corner would be a major leap forward.
...emerged as one of the Big Ten's better corners (though he's clearly a notch or two behind Justin King and Jack Ikegwuonu amongst those returning next year) and took that "major leap forward." Projected disaster and former walk-on Antonio Smith, his partner, was all right, though torched against Michigan.
Overall... Summary section:
Given the schedule the offense probably will be statistically explosive. Only four teams figure to have defenses that can even think of running with Ginn, Smith, et al. Given Tressel's tendency to play Lloydball in tight spots, though, the Bucks might not get all they might out of said really fast guys until the need to score is clear.
The defense is going to drop off significantly. This should not be a controversial statement when one of the most dominant Ds in recent college football memory loses nine starters and figures to start a secondary with almost no experience whatsoever. If Gholston does not produce, OSU is going to find itself exposing that secondary by blitzing or allowing itself to get picked apart. I find myself torn: it seems improbable that the OSU defense is going to be mediocre, but it seems equally improbable that patchwork secondary is going to be anything but.
And I said they'd go 10-2. This was obviously a couple games short, though within the bounds of Best Case/Worst case. I do think the D dropped off immensely, but a weak schedule and a ridiculous spate of forced turnovers at opportune times served to conceal the weaknesses therein until OSU's final two games of the season. I vacillate between these two scenarios for next year's OSU team:
- All of OSU's returning starters will improve and they'll regain their badass D of '05.
- Laurinaitis' strengths are wiped out because OSU hasn't recruited anyone capable of replacing their two defensive tackles. The turnovers dry up. The secondary is still pretty good, but a critical weakness in the middle of the field forces safeties up to help with the run and it's average.
Dunno which of these I think yet.