Status. There is an idea floating around that Michigan should sit Henne and/or Hart since Michigan is guaranteed a BCS slot with a win over Ohio State no matter what the outcome is against Wisconsin. This is, IMO, crazy, since the outcome of the Wisconsin game is important either way -- is the difference between 9-3 and 8-4 a big deal? 10-2 and 9-3? -- and the chances either's preparation for the Ohio State game is adversely affected are extremely low. FWIW, Carr on the duo:
Asked about the injured players' status on "Michigan Replay," Carr had few doubts about Hart.
"I don't think you're going to keep him out of this one," Carr said of the Wisconsin game.
When cohost Jim Brandstatter asked about Henne, Carr hesitated but endorsed him too, saying, "Absolutely. He finished the game, didn't he?"
Henne reiterated that stance at yesterday's press conference:
Two days after self-diagnosing his health at 80 percent in East Lansing, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said his separated throwing shoulder from the Illinois game is almost back to full strength.
Henne added at yesterday's press conference that he'll "definitely" play this weekend against Wisconsin.
"It feels really good," Henne said. "I got treatment this morning, and everything has definitely gotten a lot tighter, and it feels a lot better. Obviously it's going to move around a little bit, but right now, it's not really moving around at all and it's back to normal."
Hart, for his part:
"It's the last two games of my career... I'm not missing anything."
McGuffie aaah. Seven minutes of video fluff on Sam McGuffie:
Several of those runs are new even for those who have memorized the mixtape.
Badgerhawk down. Wisconsin CB Allen Langford and DT Jason Chapman are definitely out for the game Saturday; another key Badger may join them:
University of Wisconsin Head Football Coach Bret Bielema is not sure if running back P.J. Hill can play in Saturday's home finale against Michigan. The sophomore starter missed last weekend's loss at Ohio State with a bruised left leg. Bielema said Hill's condition got worse late last week and he has no idea how things will progress.
Hill got progressively more concerning as Jehuu Caulcrick pounded through the Michigan line time and again; if he's gimpy that will help.
Oh, so stupid. I'll keep it brief since this is football season and you probably don't care about this stuff: that McCosky guy with the inadvisable mustache wrote an anti-blog screed in the Free Press. Thunderous accusation leveled:
A lot of times these bloggers use the work of legitimate reporters. They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source.
Second thunderous accusation leveled:
Bloggers are having a field day speculating on how Joel Zumaya really injured his shoulder. Nobody believes a heavy box fell on him. So the Internet is rife with stories about how he fell off his dirt bike.
Links to blogs (or even mentions of specific offending blogs) provided: zero. Why is this? Um... because no Tigers bloggers even so much as mentioned the dirtbike rumor:
I also wonder where in the world he got this idea that blogs were all over pushing some random dirt bike story. Like I said, he wouldn't have got the idea here. He wouldn't have got it from Billfer or from Ian or from Kurt or from Lee or my main man Matt or from any of the major Tigers blogs. I haven't been keeping up on them lately but I don't even think Deadspin reported anything about dirt bikes.
I checked Motown Sports which is, let's admit it, the only Tigers message board worth looking at, and sure enough I found this thread talking about it. Two seconds of reading made it clear that the dirt bike rumor originated from the COMMENTS SECTION of something posted at ESPN.com.
McCosky's title: "bloggers just aren't journalists." Yes. That's the point.
The fourth down stufficus. Some protest in the comments and from The Conquering Heroes about the non-condemnation of Les Miles calling Rock x 4 against Kentucky in the third overtime. TCH:
I attempted to make the point on MGoBlog that Brian and many others would have raked Lloyd over the coals had he run on 4 straight downs and not picked up the first down.
It seems odd to defend myself from criticism for a hypothetical criticism I never actually made, but I will make an effort.
First: the effusive praise in this space was for Miles' willingness to go for it time and again against Florida, pulling out a win he may otherwise not have had. Nothing in the Kentucky game changes that. LSU found itself down in the third overtime and had to go for it.
As for rock x 4 -- we'll call it the Super Avalanche -- this is Matt Flynn's line for that game: 17 for 35 for 130 yards. Several of his completions were little swing passes that went for first downs. That's a line worth of Jimmah Clausen. The guy was awful, his receivers weren't much better, and Early Doucet was basically unavailable (he did come in to be a decoy during the Super Avalanche). Meanwhile, LSU was averaging 5.5 YPC when the first rock was called, and that gained six yards. In these circumstances, pounding ahead in an attempt to get the first down is eminently justifiable. Just last Wednesday, the Wannstache got raked over the coals for taking the ball out of Lesean McCoy's hands in overtime and throwing fades with his crappy quarterback despite all evidence indicating he should grind ahead. Given the relative vectors of LSU's ground and air games, it's hard to fault Miles with pounding the ball, even if it didn't work.
This is different from the fervent criticism of Debord leveled in this space because Debord took a look at the #114 pass defense and ran and ran and ran even when it had become clear that Justin Boren and Michigan's third string right guard were totally unable to handle John Gill. The resuls were a 16-7 halftime deficit that Michigan was fortunate wasn't 28-7 and an extremely dangerous situation. The key distinction here: Miles was doing something that made sense. I like it when coaches make goddamn sense.
TCH's post is worth going over, as it contains fourth down go-for-it and conversion numbers for a wide array of coaches. The numbers are interesting, though I don't know how well they actually reflect a coach's aggression. There's a big difference in going for it when you have to, like at the end of the UK-LSU game, and going for it when you have other options, like the Florida game. One point of contention:
Did Miles go for it on fourth more often just because he has brass balls? Not entirely:
LSU's field goal kickers were 64.3% last year. Their primary kicker was 8 for 13 â€“ a mere 61.5%. On the other hand, Garret Rivas was 16 for 19 -- 84% last year.
----------------------0-19 --20-29---30-39---- 40-49----50+
Garrett Rivas: 16 for 19 84.2------0/0---6/7 ---8/8----2/4 ---0/0
David Colt: 8 for 14 61.5%--------0-0---4-4----1-2----3-6---0-1
Those kicker lines don't scream "vast difference" to me even if Rivas had a much higher percentage. (Also, it's Colt David.) From 40-49 both were 50%. Inside 40 they both missed a single field goal; Rivas had many more attempts.
Also, though the "brass balls" thing has gotten a lot of play here and elsewhere, there is a key point of clarification: each decision to go was statistically and situationally valid. Miles had the balls to do the smart thing. This is different than Weis doing stuff like calling a QB draw with 12 seconds left in the half and no timeouts, which is stupid look-at-me-I'm-a-genius bravado. Mindless aggression is no better than, say, punting from inside the opponent's 40 when a moderate gain salts the game away.*
*(Uh... actually it probably is, but it's still not good.)
No, not FUPA. Field Position Advantage, or FPA, is a stat being tracked by Brian Fremeau over at Football Outsiders. It's simple: your average starting yard line minus the average opponent starting yard line. Michigan is currently ninth among I-A schools at +7.8; Ohio State is second at +10.4. Not sure how useful this statistic is, since the leader is 4-3 (now 4-4) TCU and Vanderbilt, East Carolina, and Maryland appear in the top ten, but it's an interesting thing to consider. Teams that suck at FPA do tend to be awful, though.
Etc.: Beilein fluff from Rivals; Purdue managers mock Michigan, get what they deserve; OSU is a money machine; UM Tailgate interviews Tyrone Wheatley; Shooting Blue reviews the McGuffie performance from last night.
Note: McGuffie is on ESPN2 tonight at 8PM -- hey gets more national coverage than Michigan these days -- and there will be a liveblog here. I'm going to take this Altcaster thing for a spin.
Note 2: I'm getting scattered reports of the site either not loading or actually crashing some browsers; if you're having problems please email me with details. If anyone out there has any ideas as to why this might be happening, please email me as well.
The Game has a network and time:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten Conference and ESPN have confirmed the time and television network for the annual "Big Game" between the University of Michigan football team and Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Michigan Stadium. The annual battle between the Wolverines and Buckeyes will be broadcast by ESPN on ABC starting at noon EST.
Hart. I dunno, ask his mom:
"No one will know until Saturday," Rory Rushlow said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I just left Ann Arbor yesterday, and he says he's fine and if he's even 80 percent healthy he'll play.
"Hopefully, he'll play. But he if doesn't, I'm sure he'll play the next game against Minnesota."
Scoutin' Colin has a couple of posts up focusing on the projected starting linebackers against Illinois. Obi Ezeh:
I saw flashes, but right now he's a guy who's a second or two behind everything.
UFR was far kinder to him at +3, but I would take Colin's word over mine since he's focusing strictly on one player.
(Note Crable aside:
Long aside: Ugh. I just watched the Painter keeper for their first TD and Crable really needs to learn to keep contain. That play should have been stuffed. Totally irrelevant to the task at hand, but that was just bad. Maybe I should do one of these for the whole LB corps?
Aaaand everybody's favorite, Chris Graham. I contest this passage:
Also, I'd like to mention that they do really like Graham in pass coverage, which is the reason why Ezeh is playing in the middle. I'm pretty sure Graham is being used to cut off slants and the like, which we saw remarkably few off the entire game. If Graham were ineffective in his zone coverage, they would have tried far more, I would bet. I think he's part of our suddenly solid pass defense.
I've seen Graham get way lost multiple times this year but get bailed out by pressure or inaccurate throws. Andrew Quarless spent the entire Penn State game waving at Morelli without response. Graham got bailed out against Northwestern a few times. And today Lymon dropped a simple crossing route he had gotten two steps behind on. (Colin believes the latter to be a pick play that Michigan was in man on, FWIW.) Michigan has been aggressive on slants with its corners, especially Trent. Graham has not had a hand in Michigan's improved coverage, IMO.
More tubes. WolverineHistorian keeps cranking them out. OSU 1997:
Game column coming.
The finale. WolverineHistorian has put together a highlight reel from OSU 1989, Bo's last home game:
Ha ha. Horrible quality, but this is the ND spoof AD SNL ran this weekend:
Sweet fancy fortune. The statistically inclined will look upon this as potential bad news:
Michigan entered Saturday ranked third nationally in forcing turnovers.
And the Wolverines weren't intimidated by facing one of the Big Ten's most prolific offenses Saturday, producing four more takeaways to push their season total to 23 in a 48-21 victory.
("Most prolific" against awful teams, sure, but whatever.) Michigan is now second only to Cincinnati in takeaways -- the Bearcats have 25. The theory around these parts has always been that there's very little a defense can do that consistently produces turnovers other than rush the passer. Michigan's done that extremely well -- 9th in sacks at 3.43 -- but even three and a half sacks a game can't explain 25 turnovers with almost half a season left to go. Michigan's remarkable turnaround* on defense is partially due to fortune. Against teams that can pass block, things will look considerably more grim.
One potential mitigating factor: despite having Mike Hart, Michigan has already lost eight fumbles via a combination of backups with oily hands, Mallett-related snap pratfalls, and the occasional blindsided quarterback.
*(And it has been pretty remarkable. Since Oregon, the first string D has given up 0, 9, 16, 10, and 7 points. Purdue's TD drive was five yards; Penn State had a field goal drive that started at the Michigan 35.)
Hey, buddy, leave some for the fish.
Jim Carty grumbles about Lloyd Carr's latest outburst of crotchety old-manness:
Hard to understand why he would be after whipping up on Purdue and Joe Tiller 48-21, but University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr was particularly cranky Saturday afternoon, especially toward our own beat writer, John Heuser.
At one point Carr accused John of asking too many questions, which would be understandable if, you know, the point of a press conference wasn't to ask questions.
Michigantailgate.net says NSFMF(!):
First off, I did not hear Carr say that Heuser was asking too many questions. It was more like "Is there anyone else who has some questions?" after Heuser machine gunned nine consecutive questions without stopping during the press conferenceâ€“possibly more. Maybe Heuser ought to just take his turn when asking questions instead of dominating the press conference scene . . .
This is accurate, as anyone who viewed MLive's own video of the PC knows. The reason Heuser got cut off is because he 1) asked a million questions all right in a row and 2) pressed Carr for injury information he was not going to give out like four times straight. If Carty is mystified about Heuser's treatment it says more about Carty and the media's thin skin than Carr.
Baseball? Yeah. A commenter pointed out this ESPN article from the summer that slipped by my radar. A uniform start date goes into effect this year, rosters are going to be much smaller, and scholarships can be no smaller than 0.25. The former will definitely help Northern teams; everyone seems crabby about the last two changes.
Etc.: The Michigan library has put together a Bo exhibit that starts the 19th.
Not that Emu. Highlights from the BTN:
More Penn State victorizing. This WolverineHistorian guy over at Youtube seems to be cataloging Michigan's win streak over Penn State one clip reel at at time. The current installment is 2000:
There is also a compilation of Michigan game-winning touchdowns over the years:
Miles, availability, etc. The occasional grumpy commenter who would like us all to prepare for the Brian Kelly era (which doesn't seem that bad an alternative) will drop in and assert that Les Miles will get a boatload of money dropped on him and will stay at LSU should he win -- or even just reach -- the national championship game. This NYT article that came out Friday implies otherwise heavily; this NYT blog post with fuller quotes from the principles of that article slathers it on even thicker. Former Oklahoma State player Sam Mayes:
He was never an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and I don't think that he's an L.S.U. Tiger right now. I think he's always going to be a Michigan man. I don't think he'll be content until he gets to that point. The way he would talk about Michigan and bring it up, 'When I was at Michigan.' Michigan this and that. It was like this golden fleece for him. I love my school, but with him it was something different. You had to see it. He'd say Michigan and get down on one knee. It was just crazy. People around here are joking that Les Miles has got Michigan colors on under his L.S.U. colors.
I'm sure some deranged Corn Nuts magnate can offer Miles his own effing Saban money, but I assume Michigan can and will make a competitive offer, and then we're into the whole "how many gold toilets do you need?" issue. Ben Wallace's answer was "all of them kthxbye"; Miles will probably say "just one, as long as it's Bo's."
Here's Miles' full quote about the Michigan job:
I don't want you to take the fast, hard line. I want you to hear me out.
I am indebted to that school and those people. Not Lloyd or the president there. But the tremendous memory of Bo Schembechler, and the quality that I was exposed to both academically and in football at the school. So I cannot in any way change that view. That's an honesty. I can't tell you my appreciation. My wife, my first born, my entire life is marked by my time at Michigan. Yet, I'm in a wonderful place here. I've got a great team. If I lose or have any distraction to that fact, that I would spend fun time, my time on something else like the view of that, would be a mistake. It would be a mistake and I really can't.
When I was a young coach, I had a school call me. It was so distracting. I did everything that I was supposed to do, but it affected me. Things like this really have no day-to-day change in the way I do things. I woke up at 4 a.m. today and I'm daydreaming, I'm not thinking about anything else but how to make this football team better. That to me is the right feel. I have great confidence in Michigan and they have a great staff there and they're going to do great things this year. I have no designs and nor has it ever been displayed to me that I'm the next guy, by anybody. I have given little or no thought to things that are not imminent. I really don't want to spend any more time talking about another program.
Lloyd Carr won a national championship and that staff is as quality as there is. I fully support what they're doing there.
Read from that what you will, but I have received multiple emails on this from people I trust: if Miles is offered the job he will take it.
Ashutosh has some thoughts on the Miles candidacy at What The Deuce:
Even with what Miles' has going for him, I still feel "eh" about him. I want to feel like Homer Simpson looking at a plate of bacon when the new hire is made/announced.
Mmmm baconcoach. That post went up Saturday... wonder if the needle has moved at all after the Florida game?
USA Today takes a look at said game and the fourth-down conversions therein. It slipped my mind in Sunday's post that one of the fourth-down attempts was a fake field goal; don't know if that changes the decision calculus any. It (obviously) worked, though.
Hot dog man. Missed this Daily article on the tube-meat-slinging cult hero of the student section:
As Michigan was beginning its comeback in Evanston, Ill. against Northwestern on Saturday, College of Engineering senior Jay Trzcinski walked to the front corner of the Michigan student section with an armful of hot dogs. At first, the crowd didn't recognize him, but soon murmurs began. Then the crowd started chanting "Hot Dog Man."
The rest of it is a depressing rehash of Michigan's attitude towards the stadium atmosphere ("anything fun is prohibited") compared to Northwestern's ("we are not crotchety"). Upshot:
He said he doesn't plan on throwing a hot dog anytime soon because he doesn't want a criminal charge and wants to be able to cheer on Michigan during the big games at the end of the season.
Hot Dog Man has been told his season tickets will be revoked if he throws any more tubed meats, which is preposterous. Maybe the administration's leeriness would have some merit if the hot dog tossing took place when the students were precariously perched on the seats, but at halftime everyone's sitting down. Les Miles would let the kid th
row hot dogs.
Wontario, defeated. Michigan opened up its 2007-2008 hockey season with a 5-1 exhibition win over Western Ontario that was somewhat dispiriting as these things go. Usually the final score of the exhibition is something like 8-2 and Michigan puts up like 60 shots to the opponent's 15; this game was 1-0 until a few minutes into the third when the floodgates opened. The Wolverine's Bob Miller has some impressions. Upshot:
This is going to be a very fun season for those who love developmental hockey. This Michigan team will have a solid core of players who should (no guarantees, of course) be four-year players and will be able develop naturally over time. No doubt, there will be some very frustrating games, but I can already see significant progress in most of the freshman from the first practice I attended 12 days ago. Very encouraging progress, in many cases. For those who demand lots of wins to enjoy the experience...well... you may have to decide if you can be patient through the inevitable growing pains.
Yikes. Some player-by-player breakdown follows. Personal opinions:
- Steve Kampfer still looks like the guy who got benched early last year. Lots of turnovers, occasionally turned inside out by Wontarians, still smallish. It remains a mystery how or why NHL teams thought he was worth drafting at all, let alone in the third round. Hopefully he comes around; I'm not seeing it.
- No offense to Scooter Vaughn, but God it's depressing to see #3 out there, think JMFJ(!!!) and then have it turn out to be anyone else. Similarly, the new #7, Chad Langlais, is exactly the same build as TJ except he plays defense. This is going to be a source of cognitive dissonance all year. They really shouldn't have issued thoes numbers until an appropriate mourning period had passed.
- Side note: Scooter Vaughn is a black guy from California named, obviously, "Scooter" who plays on the hockey team. Most unlikely Michigan athlete ever?
- None of the freshman jumped out like JMFJ or Hensick did when they were freshmen, but several of them showed flashes of talent. Matt Rust was compared to Andrew Ebbett by Miller, but the comparison in my head was Dwight Helminen. He has Helminen's wheels, faceoff ability, and backchecking prowess with a dash of offensive flair. Doubt he has Helminen's wicked snap shot, but his assist on Michigan's third goal -- a one-two-three tic-tac-toe job that was pure class -- was a beauty.
- Other guys I liked: Ben Winnett, a good combination of size and skill, Carl Hagelin, who probably didn't deserve a hat trick but was all over the ice, and Max Pacioretty.
- We're about to find out if Kevin Porter, top five scorer, was entirely a creation of TJ Hensick. Survey says: hell yes. He's still probably the team's best player, but is uninspiring as those go.
- One freshman defender I liked: the aforementioned Langlais. He's tiny and old (20 or 21 already, IIRC) but has some stickhandling and passing chops. Will be a fixture on the power play; reminds me of swashbuckling Eric Werner, who I loved.
- Sauer faced like one scoring chance. Goal was at the other end of the ice and I didn't get a good look, but it seemed like a goal-line scrum that ended up with him getting bumped by someone and then there was pointing and a red light. Not egregious. For that, see the Blue-White game.
Rates. The NCAA has published this year's GSR rates. Michigan football is at 73%, up from 71% last year. This is third in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern and Penn State. The more detailed report that Jim Harbaugh and NDNation nuts used to hammer Michigan over the summer hasn't come out yet.
Most Youtubey Thing Ever. There's something low-rent about many youtube videos, as you might imagine. Set up a camera, roll tape of you in your living room drinking beer and giving your take on whatever, etc. But I've never seen something quite as goofily amateur as this:
Mock up powerpoint presentation? Check. Insert Survivor tape in cassette player from 1985? Check. Get wobbly child to hold camera? Check. We are go for launch.
For the record: Henne, you daft powerpoint enthusiast, you.
Oh, God, Terrance, noooooooo.
Post Northwestern, Terrance Taylor decides to share the ample, ample love...
...lawsuit for crushing six juniors pending.
JoePa not interested. On the forfeiture:
"I know we got licked," Paterno said Tuesday. "I don't have any interest in it. We lost. That's up to somebody else to make the decision."
The Realests are pleased.
Well, maybe it wasn't so bad. Lake The Posts on John Gill, who just got done owning our interior line:
Mel Kiper recently donned Gill as the 2nd best junior DT in all of CFB. Chris Martin has told me that scouts LOVE this kid and he may project to be one of the highest drafted picks we've ever had.
I believe it after that performance; hopefully he's just this anomalous super badass at NW and not an indication that the Michigan running game is about to crumble.
Great. Michigan now has its very own Level Of Losing in an updated Bill Simmons meme:
Level VII: The Drive-By Shooting
Definition: A first cousin of The "This Can't Be Happening" Game, we created this one four weeks ago to describe any college football upset in which a 30-point underdog shocks a top-5 team in front of 108,000 of its fans and kills its title hopes before Labor Day.
Best Example: The unprecedented "Assassination in Ann Arbor," which trumped The "This Can't Be Happening" Game for three reasons. First, it's an understatement to say that nobody saw Appalachian State coming (in some Vegas casinos, they didn't even have a line for the game). Second, it was one of the most humiliating defeats in college football history. And third, it killed any realistic chance for Michigan to win the national title, only it happened in Week 1 and the Wolverines still had to play out the rest of their suddenly meaningless season. Just for the record, the "Drive-By Shooting" can only happen in college football.
Awesome. Remember this whenever anyone defends the coaching staff that permitted The Horror to happen.