Michigan All-Freshman Team

Michigan All-Freshman Team Comment Count

Seth March 15th, 2019 at 3:02 PM

This one turned into a beast as I ran into a lot of close decisions and had to watch a lot of Wolverine Historian'd Michigan victories on the youtubes to get them right. The things I do for you people.

Previously: Pro Offense/Pro Defense, 1879-Before Bo, 5-Stars, 3-Stars, Extracurriculars, Position-Switchers, Highlights, Numbers Offense/Numbers Defense, In-State, Names, Small Guys

Rules: Scoring the way we might with Upon Further Review or Pro Football Focus, i.e. overall positive impact minus negative impact. Eligible seasons are those where the guy played with freshman eligibility (you can be a redshirt freshman but not retroactively). Also we're grading only on that freshman season, not what came before or after.

Freshman Eligibility: With a few wartime exceptions and some irregularities from back when college football was 'Nam, from 1896 (the formation of the Big Ten) until 1972 freshmen in football were not eligible to compete on varsity. Instead they had freshman teams, who often played on Monday nights. It's way beyond my capabilities for some offseason #content to read every account of every freshman game from the 20th century, so only varsity freshmen are going to count here.


Quarterback: Chad Henne (2004)

Lloyd Carr promised a battle for the job of replacing John Navarre. The candidates were RS sophomore Matt Gutierrez, who had never lost a game in high school, RS freshman southpaw (and future South Side-er) Clayton Richard, and the new five-star freshman yanked out of Penn State territory over the public objections of his head coach.

Coming out of spring the smart money was on Gutierrez, who'd wet his feet some in 2003. Nearing the end of fall practice that pick was locked in, and leaking out, along with rumors that the newcomer had replaced the future lefty reliever. Then during prep week to face Miami (NNTM) and Notre Dame, Gutierrez went down. A true freshman took the controls of the most NFL-like passing offense outside of the NFL.

Henne wasn't allowed to do much, especially early on. But he could do the one thing—the thing that would define his 2,743-yard, 25-TD (12-INT) freshman campaign. That is: throw it to Braylon. Henne's first long pass was a dead-on-balls fade to Braylon. His first touchdown was a 20-yard rocket to Braylon. His first 40-pass day included 18 in the direction Braylon. Of course, Braylonfest went in the direction of Braylon.

But as the season progressed Henne was picking up the offense. His Big Ten debut was a 16/26/236-yard performance against Iowa. He dispatched Indiana with lethal efficiency, and carried the offense the rest of the way. Though they lost to Ohio State (on a 27/54 day for Henne), a Wisconsin loss that day secured Michigan another trip to Pasadena.

Backup: Rick Leach (1975). Before I get attacked by an army of sexagenarians led by Dr. Sap, this is not a knock on Leach so much as recognition of Henne. If you did want to knock Leach, he wasn't much of a passer (32/100, 680 yards, 3 TDs, 12 INTs, 75.0 QBRtg) even in the context of his day. His rushing stats—611 yards/4.88 YPC and 5 TDs on 83 attempts—weren't great either. But the freshman had the right feel for the option, and that set up both RB Gordie Bell and FB Rob Lytle for 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Leach had a terrible Ohio State game, and while that motivated him to win three straight afterward, it didn't feel so great in '75.

HM: Tate Forcier (2009), Elvis Grbac (1989), Steven Threet (2008), Ryan Mallett (2007)

[AFTER THE JUMP: A more freshman year than 2004.]


Michigan All-XXL Team

Michigan All-XXL Team Comment Count

Seth March 8th, 2019 at 12:38 PM

We did the little people. Now it's time to find the best and the biggest.

Previously: Pro Offense/Pro Defense, 1879-Before Bo, 5-Stars, 3-Stars, Extracurriculars, Position-Switchers, Highlights, Numbers Offense/Numbers Defense, In-State, Names, Small Guys

Rules: Just like the all-small roster, a player gets equal points for being large and for being excellent. Here however I will count weight on equal footing with height, since most of these guys weren't trying to shed it. This one is going to favor more modern players; Germany Schulz was considered a huge center for his time at 6'2/212 and until the 1980s even the linemen who were over 300 pretended not to be. So there's an all-relative team hanging out in here too.


Quarterback: John Navarre, 6'6"/228 (2003)

What's an arc?

My top quartile rule plus the Age of the Howitzer puts us in the weird position of disqualifying 6'5" Tom Brady, Todd Collins, and Jim Harbaugh, sticking us with a pool of Speight, Mallett, Cone, Kapsner, Sessa, Ziegler, and LURRRRRRCH! The stuff about the campus not being very much behind Tom Brady is so much stuff because the same people were on campus for much or all of Navarre and there's no question who was pined for and who maligned.

Much of that is because underclassman Navarre had to play the bulk of the time we'd carved out for Henson. Navarre broke in as a redshirt freshman when Henson got hurt in early 2000, terrorized a pair of MAC teams, then was awful against UCLA. With Henson off to baseball in 2001, Navarre leaned heavily on Marquise Walker and the offense was, well, Lurch-y. By 2002 he had his feet under him and in 2003, with Braylon and Avant, Michigan got an excellent and high-volume passing season out of the big guy, setting all the passing records and more importantly leading Michigan to a win over defending national champion Ohio State and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Relatively: Bob Timberlake (6'4/211) was a modern-sized quarterback right at the beginning of the pocket QB era. Forest Evashevski (6'1/198) was huge for the early 1940s.

Honorable Mention: Wilton Speight (6'6"/240)


Running Back: Anthony Thomas (6'2/221)

Note: I have requested that WH change the music. If you mute the above and play the other it lines up well, especially at the bridge when that tom comes in while he's setting up a bunch of Hawkeyes and when Marquise Walker jumps on him.

The roster data have all kinds of lies to add to Bo and his successors' preference for big backs. Picking from a pile of guys who were listed at 6'2/220 and were actually more like 6'0 is virtually naming Michigan's best non-squib back. Some guys we knew were fullback-sized (Askew, Bunch) became fullbacks in the latter part of their careers. So let's not overthink this and go with the full-time running back whose NFL measurement agreed with his roster height, and who was literally referred to in his day in terms of a multi-ton vehicle, IE A-Train.

The size was definitely an issue…for opponents. A-Train had that patented three-yard fall that made his carries +EV even when the line didn't block well, and the added length made him one of Michigan's best pass-blocking running backs in memory.

Relatively: Jim Detwiler (6'3/209) is a mostly forgotten star from the mid-'60s who towered over the other RBs. Crazylegs Hirsch (6'2/190) was such a tall running back he went on to be the first great NFL wide receiver.

HM: Ty Isaac (6'3/228), Wyatt Shallman (6'3/239), Roosevelt Smith (6'3/232), B.J. Askew (6'3/210), Chris Perry (6'0"/228), Tyrone Wheatley (6'0/226), Jarrod Bunch (6'2/240)

[After THE JUMP: Poor Anthony Morelli]


Michigan All-Pro Team: Defense

Michigan All-Pro Team: Defense Comment Count

Seth February 12th, 2019 at 10:58 AM

Ty Law's in the Hall of Fame. Tom Brady's the GOAT. And a bunch of former Michigan players just had their first go in the new AAFL. So I'm making a 53-man pro team out of Michigan alumni.


Rules are the guy's Michigan career is irrelevant except he has to have at least been on the field for Michigan—this is all based on how good he was as a pro. Pro Bowls, starts, and longevity are more important than team success. It's also not simply a list of the greatest pros—I'm building a team. I already did the offense. Here's Part II.


Defensive Tackle: Tom Keating (1964-'75)

Start about 5:28 and watch #74

Tom Keating played nose tackle for some of the greatest teams of the '60s and '70s, and was the fulcrum for one of the nastiest (and most successful) defenses in the history of the game. Keating's claim to fame at Michigan is he was the first Michigan player to touch the banner while captaining the defensive line for Bump's worst two teams.

Keating's pro career started slowly. Drafted by the Vikings (NFL) and the Bills (AFL), Keating chose the latter as they were one of the premier teams in the game. That proved a mistake, as Keating relegated to a rotation spot on a stacked Bills roster (they were AFL Champions his first, second, and fourth years in the league).

Keating walked in 1966, and joined the Raiders. He was an immediate AFL All-Star, and by his second season in Oakland Keating was celebrated as the Aaron Donald of his time, anchoring a legendary Raiders defense that dominated the end of the 1960s. Except for the one season (1968) Keating missed with a leg injury, he was the premier DT in the league, and when the AFL merged with the NFL, he was the best in either. Their best defense was probably in 1970, the first year after the merger. But that was the year all of the Raiders' quarterbacks got injured and they had to re-sign kicker George Blanda to play quarterback. The injuries finally caught up in 1973 in one year mentoring what would become the front of the Steel Curtain. Keating's last great year was 1974 with the Chiefs, and he retired after 1975.

[After THE JUMP: One that got away]


Michigan All-Pro Team Offense

Michigan All-Pro Team Offense Comment Count

Seth February 5th, 2019 at 2:23 PM

With Ty Law joining eight other Pro Football Hall of Famers from Michigan last week, and Tom Brady continuing to push the bar for greatest football player of all time past the outer reaches of the Virgo Cluster, I figured our next Michigan All-____ team should focus on who made the best pro players.

This one got long and took a lot of research so here's Part 1.


Today's Rules: I'm creating a 53-man NFL roster with Michigan alumni based on their total contributions in pro football (mostly the NFL). It's not about the greatest Michigan players to go pro; in fact I'm going to include a few transfers best known for playing elsewhere. I'm judging based on things like years in the pros, years as a starter, Pro Bowl/All-Pro selections, a little bit on team success, and their impact on the game, all relative to when they played.

The goal is a bit different than normal because the idea here is to build a team, not reward the best players. A guy had to play a position in the pros to be be eligible for it, within reason: I expect a career left guard to be able to play right guard (but not necessarily center), and a 1950 flanker to not feel totally out of place as a modern slot receiver.

A * means he's in the Hall of Fame already.

Quarterback: Tom Brady (2000-present)

It doesn't seem to get old. I think we can skip the career rundown because you've no doubt been on this Earth the last few weeks. At this point Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are past trying and just making up challenges to keep things interesting.

Tom: Okay guys, don't even block Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler for a quarter.

Bill: Betchya I can convince the whole league to go back to punting on 4th and short from the opponents' territory.

Tom: Oh yeah? Watch me make a short, bearded Jewish guy a Super Bowl MVP.

Bill: Ooh, that's a good one. Try this…I'm going to hold Jared Goff to the worst passing day of his career.

Tom: Yeah?

Bill: Using just zone defense!

Tom: That's good, but you know what would really be funny?

Bill: What?

Tom: Okay, here it is: Not only do you have to hold the Rams under 7 points, but you also have to get McVay to forget he has the highest paid running back in the league for a half…

Bill: …and?

Tom: And then you've got to bust out your own 1st round RB from Georgia and salt the game away using nothing but double ISO and counter-trey.

Anyway the nice thing about the All-Michigan NFL Team is it will beat any other college's all-NFL team. I mean, what other school gets to put out a tweet like this every year?

Backups: Benny Friedman* (1927-'34) and Jim Harbaugh (1987-'00). What's more incredible about the greatest quarterback of all time is he pushed down the Most Important. Without Benny the NFL would have taken much longer to get out of the college game's shadow. Benny also provides depth at RB, the secondary, and special teams. Former 1st round pick Jim Harbaugh was 49-22-1 as an NFL starter, mostly for the Bears, but had a long second career as a backup who doubled as a mentor and coach for young prospects.

Honorable Mention: Elvis Grbac (1994-'01), Brian Griese (1998-'08), Chad Henne (2008-present), Todd Collins (1995-2010), Larry Cipa (1974-'75), Jake Rudock (2017-present)

[After THE JUMP: a position that isn't as deep, and one that's deeper]


Michigan All-Small Team

Michigan All-Small Team Comment Count

Seth January 29th, 2019 at 10:25 AM

Last offseason I was making these Michigan All-____ Teams and I didn't get around to all of the ideas. So let's.


Today's Rules: You must be in the bottom quartile of height for your position and get extra points for being shorter than that. Weight doesn't matter as much as height (because most of these guys had to add a lot of it). Also this has to be relative to the players of your era—with a heavy recency bias—because there was a time when a six-foot offensive tackle was considered huge. For example, here's 5'11" Anthony Carter with some of the other 1979 offensive starters (via a Dr. Sap article on MVictors):


I'm going to use my discretion as we go, but if a player wasn't remarkably tiny for his era, even if he would be in ours, he doesn't count.

The problem: Rosters lie, especially regarding these players, because listing a short guy at his real height could depress his pro future. Where I have knowledge of a guy's actual height I'll use that, and beyond that I'm just going to do my best.

Quarterback: Denard Robinson

Last listed size: 6'0"/197 (2012)


[Brian Fuller]

Strangely, 2019 recruit Cade McNamara, at 6'1", is the third-shortest Michigan scholarship quarterback since Bo, with Denard and 2008 proto-Denard Justin Feagin both listed at a straight six. Or maybe that's not so strange because height in a quarterback is so highly valued. In my opinion it's highly overrated; the last two Heisman winners were Oklahoma quarterbacks listed at 6'0" and 5'11", QED. Notably, despite Michigan's clear preference for tall guys, some of their best were all on the shorter side, including Chad Henne and Shea Patterson, both just 6'2". Anyway, the rosters lied about Denard's height, which was probably 5'11" or just under it. I should mention the 2011 roster lists Denard as 5'9", which is wrong but feels right. His height led to a few batted balls, but since his center also appears later on this list (and Ricky Barnum wasn't very tall either), and because defenders in space had to approach warily lest Denard escape the pocket, the % of batted balls from Denard in the UFRs is lower than that for Henne.

Honorable Mention: Dennis Brown (5'10"/175), Tate Forcier (6'1"/190), Harry Newman (5'7"/174), Boss Weeks (5'7"/161) lots of other old dudes. Michigan's first great quarterback (and college athletics' first great athletic director) Charles Baird was listed at 5'6". Michigan's shortest QB on the Bentley database was 1914-'16 bencher Harold Zeiger, at 5'4".

[After THE JUMP: Not who you think]


Michigan All-Name Team

Michigan All-Name Team Comment Count

Seth August 21st, 2018 at 11:01 AM

Lead image from here.


This week: I went through the entire Bentley database.

Rules: He has to be in the Bentley database, and I can only use a guy once, preferably where he played most.



Puckelwartz was unfortunate to have played at the same time as M's greatest ever QB

  • Giggle giggle I'm a 12-year-old: Bill Puckelwartz (HM Don Moorhead, Irv Uteritz)
  • Most esteemed member of an extremely exclusive Ann Arbor men's sitting club: Louis A. Brunsting Jr. or Ignatius M. Duffy
  • Best Nickname: John "Piggy" Pighee
  • Rolls off that tongue: Jim Breaugh
  • I could listen to Keith Jackson say this all day: DiAllo Johnson
  • Most literal: Matt Wilde
  • In the mystical and mysterious land of: Forrest Evashevski
  • Most presidential: Jack Kennedy
  • Best galactic overlord: Chris Zurbrugg
  • Good luck Ace: Harry Stuhldreher, Jr.

[After THE JUMP: Butt, Jokisch, Furbush, and some names you haven't heard]


The Michigan All-Numbers Team: Defense

The Michigan All-Numbers Team: Defense Comment Count

Seth August 7th, 2018 at 1:22 PM


This week: We continue picking the best number for each position with the defensive side. Offense is here.

Rules: It's what you wore when you contributed there. Starts, stats, big plays, etc.

All photos from priceless resource UM Bentley Library unless stated otherwise. All-Americans highlighted.


A Short History of Defensive Positions

My goal so this wouldn't just be some useless offseason #content was to include all players since they started having numbers in the '20s. That way it's not just "here's the guys we remember from the last 10 years."

That makes defense WAY harder to do this (correctly) than for offense. Great two-way players are best known for their offensive feats and were typically listed with their offensive positions, for example Benny Friedman played quarterback on offense but halfback (cornerback) on defense. Defensive positions have changed dramatically over the years, and what you call a thing often takes another generation to change after the job has changed (for a taste, watch this 1940s defensive tutorial).


From the '30s to the '60s centers, fullbacks and one of the guards played linebacker. One safety played in the parking lot to deter quick punts because offenses would take a 50-yard field position swing over possession any day.

Transition periods are good for new position names and player nicknames—we're going through one now with Viper—but tough on roster data. Exempli gratia: the starter data list Dominic Tedesco and John Anderson as defensive ends in 1976. In 1977 they were both starters again but now at "outside linebacker."

No, Michigan didn't "switch" that year from a 5-2 defense to a 3-4. They just fixed the glitch. This gets especially troublesome when you consider how often shifts put 3-4 "tackles" on the edge. I mean, they called Mark Messner a tackle his whole career, even though he spent that career aligned up like so:

#60 at the bottom

Since the jobs haven't changed nearly as much as the names, I'm going to do defense by job description.

[After THE JUMP: The numbers.]


The Michigan All-Numbers Team: Offense

The Michigan All-Numbers Team: Offense Comment Count

Seth July 27th, 2018 at 12:40 PM

[Danny Moloshok/Stringer]


FOOTBALL EVE 2018, hosted by Matt Demorest of HomeSure Lending, will be at 6:00 PM on Thursday, August 30, at 327 E. Hoover, Ann Arbor—the same place as last year. 12802hsllogoAlso the same food as last year—Scratch BBQ and Catering—since Adam and David didn't get to try it.

We won't do the podcast live this time since it felt a bit awkward. Just a Q&A, possibly trivia, and also possibly some historic videogaming and actual, real, live, college football. We'll have beer as well—gotta set that up still.

What's FOOTBALL EVE? An annual MGoBlog get-together right before the season. It started in 2015 when Demorest and I were both asked to leave our respective houses before the Utah game because residential zones are not capable of handing that much nervous energy. Brian ghosts in with zero sleep because he's always behind on the previews. We have beer. It's not complicated. We're doing it Thursday night instead of Friday because so many people are going to Notre Dame. Matt buys everyone beer and afterwards everyone who comes by remembers that if they're buying or refinancing a home he's the guy to talk to.


In honor of the freshman getting their numbers, this week we're not picking a single player for each position but choosing the number that has been best represented for each position.


This week: Here's the snap from #(59? 50? 60?), #(16? 7?) drops back, fakes to #(yeah it's 33), looks downfield for #(86 right? j/k), now checks down to #(80-something); #(70-something) is giving him all sorts of time...he dumps it off to #(23 perhaps? 20? do we remember a better one?), and #(who remembers guard numbers?) is there to escort...he's gonna score!!!

Rules: Not judging on peak performance here. It's more about how many games they started, how much hardware they took home, and the total sum contributions of all players playing that position while wearing that number. You can count for multiple numbers but your work at another number doesn't count. For example Devin Gardner's contribution to #7 is mostly running around like a headless chicken. His 2012 work counts toward #12 at WR and QB. And his 2013-'14 seasons (starting at ND '13) are counted toward 98.

All photos from priceless resource UM Bentley Library unless stated otherwise. All-Americans highlighted.

Quarterback #7

Rick Leach, Drew Henson, Chad Henne, et al.


Center & Right from MGoBlue.com

Harry Kohl was no slouch in the late '30s but it's Rick Leach who made the #7 special for Michigan quarterbacks by starring in the latter half of the 1970s. Because of Leach a number of five-star prospects chose to honor him. That's how you add Drew Henson and Chad Henne, plus Shane Morris, Spencer Brinton, Devin Gardner for his first two years, Demetrius Brown when he was a senior, and early 1980s QB David Hall.

Other contenders:
#16: Denard Robinson, John Navarre, Steve Smith, Jay Riemersma, Mark Elzinga, Scott Crawford
#27: Bennie Friedman, Don Moorhead, Dick Vidmer, Stan Noskin
#10: Tom Brady, Todd Collins, Bill Dickey, Clayton Richard, Steven Threet, Dylan McCaffrey, and my doc Kyle Anderson hi doc!

Enough of these:
#8: John O'Korn, Nick Sheridan, Jim Breaugh, Russell Bellomy

Bring it back:
#46: Harry Newman is one of the greatest players in college football history


[Hit THE JUMP for the controversial pick, and a controversial pick that you probably didn't realize was one]


Michigan All-State of Michigan Team (Since 1990)

Michigan All-State of Michigan Team (Since 1990) Comment Count

Seth July 19th, 2018 at 12:25 PM

TUEBOR is Latin for "Pothole!" because you can't sue us if we warn you

The best players in Michigan play for Michigan, but who were the best players from Michigan to play for Michigan?


This week: We're looking to build the best possible team out of guys who grew up and played their high school ball in Michigan. Since we've covered a lot of these guys' Michigan careers already, I figured this could instead be a celebration of the programs they came from, and Michigan high school football in general. Special thanks to michigan-football.com, a highly valuable resource.

Rules: Only players recruited since 1990-on. Reasons are 1) Until the late '80s Michigan was a very regional recruiter. Quick chart of Michigan rosters (via Bentley) by state of origin, walk-ons included:


Moeller was the first coach since helmets were a thing to field a team that wasn't made up mostly of Michiganders and Ohioans. Reason 2) My database goes back to 1990. Reason 3: I was 10 that year, and kid memories aren't of much use. This gives us a pool of 171 players to choose from whose careers most of us are somewhat familiar with.


Quarterback: Devin Gardner, Inkster

via AA News

Right off the bat this is a tough one, and a decision I'm personally going to get flak for because the other good candidate reads this blog. Drew, at your best you were the better player, and I promise to buy you a beer next time you're in Ann Arbor. However I'm sticking by the guy who should never have to buy a beer in the State of Michigan again. Also: 33 starts to your eight.

In high school Gardner played for UofD as a sophomore but was forced to sit out for off-field issues for five games. He transferred to Inkster, following coach Greg Carter from recently closed Saint Martin de Porres, and exploded, leading them to two straight state finals. While Devin was at Michigan Inkster was also closed, its students dispersed to four other school districts.

Backup: Drew Henson, Brighton
The rest of the field: Shane Morris, Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan, Alex Malzone, Craig Randall

[After THE JUMP: The greatest player in Michigan high school history]


Michigan All-Highlight Team

Michigan All-Highlight Team Comment Count

Seth July 11th, 2018 at 2:07 PM



This week: This one is the most fun. I'm looking for the single best highlight produced at each position. It's also going to require the most help from the crowd. If you've got a reel that beats what I've listed, please share in the comments!

Rules: Best single individual highlight, regardless of context, although there's naturally going to be a lot of rivals on here because duh. If there are multiple contributors who made a play great I'll try to have it go to the guy who was most responsible. I might also stretch the rules so that it's not just a "best highlights ever" list. 


Quarterback: To Kolesar With Love, by Jimmy Harbaugh

A quarterback touches the ball on almost every offensive play, so to avoid having to just pick the greatest play in Michigan history I tried to focus on the quarterback doing something completely magnificent with only a little help from his friends.

Ohio State was climbing back into The Game in 1985 and with a cold stop to bring up 2nd and 7 you could feel the Buckeyes starting to feel like the chips were ready to fall their way. Eager to cash in on that momentum, Earl Bruce called for a safety blitz. What he wasn't counting on was a stone-faced Jim Harbaugh sitting across the table, ready to call his bluff, or, you know, take a safety in the chin while dropping an inch-perfect ball into Kolesar's bucket over OSU's best defender.

Quarterback Again: Shoelace, by Denard Robinson

Shut up I couldn't leave it out. It's his first snap. They start by explaining why his redshirt was lifted. Then you see his smile. Then they're focusing on his shoelaces, like this is the quirk that will define him. Then he drops the snap. Then he picks it up and runs around some, probably to the sideline. Then he cuts, and it's Rookie Mode to the endzone. I've still never seen anything like it.

The debut (grainier version with his introduction)

Honorable Mention: Denard's oeuvre, Henne2Mario, Navarre's buffalo stampede, Henson's rocket, Denard to Hemingway with a Domer DT on his ankle, and a thousand more

[Hit THE JUMP and then hit the comments to let me know what I forgot]