Independence Denard: The Integration and Infiltration

Independence Denard: The Integration and Infiltration

Submitted by Brian on September 8th, 2010 at 12:03 PM

PREVIOUSLY IN OUR STORY: Many ridiculous things happened! Desmond Howard's lower body was cloned by a nefarious organization bent on Michigan world domination. It was subsequently abducted by J Leman. Seven years later, Leman captured Tom Brady and brought him before Bob Zook and a duck, whereupon James Earl Jones and Lawrence Kasdan convinced Leman his actions were un-American, whereupon he freed Tom Brady, whereupon Tom Brady impressively KICKED the duck into a cloning machine, whereupon Bob Zook released Adrian Clayborn to devastatingly SACK Tom Brady into the same cloning machine, whereupon said cloning machine said a lot of ominous stuff and did this:

explosion

As the smoke clears, three separate pockets of life stir…

INT. RUINED URBANA GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1999.

jleman_thumb6 Urrrrr.

duck_thumb4

jleman_thumb6 What the…?

duck_thumb6 Quack.

jleman_thumb6 Oh my God! Poor thing. I have to get you out of here.

duck_thumb6 Qua—. On second and long Michigan will run a draw or throw a screen. Third and long pass. Punt. Waggle comes after approximately 3.5 successful runs on drive; give or take x, where x is a complicated polynomial expression elided. Quack. Jim Herrmann's favorite defense in a late-game situation is called "Charmin." Yost. Quack. Quack.

explosion_thumb7

jleman_thumb6 We have to go!

INT. RUINED URBANA GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1999.

tombrady2_thumb9 Urrrr.

 image

tombrady2_thumb9 What the…?

brady-howard HELLO ITS VERY NICE TO MEET YOU IM FEELING VERY MOBILE AT THE MOMENT YES YES LETS DO SOMETHING DO YOU LIKE CHESS I CAN PLAY CHESS IN TWO SECONDS FLAT

adrian-clayborn_thumb[8] There they are!

tombrady2_thumb9 No!

brady-howard [Impressive KICK!]

adrian-clayborn_thumb[8][4] Noooooooo!

brady-howard CHECKMATE.

tombrady2_thumb9 How did you do that?

explosion_thumb9

brady-howard LETS GO SOMEWHERE FAST

INT. RUINED URBANA GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1999.

bobzook_thumb6 Urrrr.

  image

bobzook_thumb6 What the…?

brady-duck Quack.

bobzook_thumb6 What happened?

duck_thumb5 AFLAC!

brady-duck Quack.

bobzook_thumb6 I see.

duck_thumb5 AFLAC!

bobzook_thumb6 Have I told you about my brother Ron? Greatest football coach in the universe, really.

explosion_thumb11

duck_thumb5 AFLAC!

EXT. SUSPICIOUSLY SMOKING FIELD OUTSIDE OF URBANA. 1999.

duck_thumb6 Quack. 107,501. Quack. Most all time victories. Quack. The rush linebacker position is basically a defensive end.

jleman_thumb6 Boy, you know a lot about Michigan.

duck_thumb6 Quack. Require sustenance.

jleman_thumb6 All I've got is this orange juice. Very American drink, orange juice.

duck_thumb6 Juice. Desire Juice. Juice. Juice.

jleman_thumb6 Here. Now what are we going to call you?

EXT. SUSPICIOUSLY SMOKING FIELD OUTSIDE OF URBANA. 1999.

tombrady2_thumb9 So… now what?

brady-howard NOW EVERYTHING WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE [Starts running to and fro, disappears too quickly to believe. A trail of smoke stretches to the horizon.]

tombrady2_thumb9 Great.

[An ENORMOUS BUS FULL OF SCANTILY CLAD MODELS pulls up.]

Gisele-Bundchen-boobiesNeed a ride?

EXT. SUSPICIOUSLY SMOKING FIELD OUTSIDE OF URBANA. 1999.

bobzook_thumb6 I guess I need a new nefarious plot. I always think better with a little help.

joint [expands Bob Zook's mind, reminds everyone not to try this at home unless you want to think that facial hair is a good idea.]

brady-duck Quack.

bobzook_thumb6 Okay, here.

joint [when inhaled by half-human, half-duck hybrid becomes a permanent feature of the creature's personality]

brady-duck Quaaaaack. Munch. Munch.

bobzook_thumb6 HA HA DUCK MUNCHIES THAT IS SO FUNNY

tombrady2_thumb9Gisele-Bundchen-boobies Yoink!

bobzook_thumb6 Aww, now what am I going to watch eat?

INT. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS MEETING ROOM. FEBRUARY 2002.

charlieweis_thumb13 Quack.

billbelichick_thumb6  Goddammit, where's Brady? Get him in here again.

charlieweis_thumb13 Quack.

tombrady2_thumb9 He says the Rams' two-minute defense has obvious weaknesses against four verticals.

billbelichick_thumb6 You got all that from "quack"?

tombrady2_thumb9 Definitely. I'm telling you, he gives us a decided schematic advantage.

billbelichick_thumb6 To me he just seems like a hideously malformed being with an enormous waist that says "quack" all the time.

tombrady2_thumb9He's a super genius. Srsly.

billbelichick_thumb6 Well, all right. Maybe that tip will come in handy tomorrow. I've got to go meet with the defense.

charlieweis_thumb13 Quack.

tombrady2_thumb9 Have I ever told you you're head coach material?

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6 Brady. Come in, Brady.

tombrady2_thumb9 Brady here.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6 Report on The Project.

tombrady2_thumb9 After I win the Super Bowl tomorrow I calculate a 97% chance the abomination ascends to the head coaching job at Notre Dame.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6montgomeryburns_thumb 

EXT. DEERFIELD BEACH HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FIELD, 2007

denarddeerfield_thumb5 ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

footballcoach_thumb14 Oh my God. This kid is going to run for a billion yards.

denarddeerfield_thumb5 ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP

footballcoach_thumb14 Oh my God. This kid is going to throw for a billion yards.

denarddeerfield_thumb5 I JUST PLAYED SIXTEEN GAMES OF CHESS AND SMILED WITH THE WATTAGE OF A THOUSAND SUNS

footballcoach_thumb14  Oh my Go—hackachakahcakakach. [/expires]

darth-vader-face_thumb[9] No one must know about our secret installation. Now I just have to figure out how to get this kid to complete 45% of his passes and run for under 600 yards.

tombrady2_thumb9 Let me take care of that.

charlieweis_thumb13 Quack.

EXT. MICHIGAN STADIUM, MICHIGAN VS ILLINOIS.  2008

mikewilliamsprofile_thumb4 Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. He's coming. He's like a 500-foot-tall robot or something.

juicewilliams_thumb11 Quack. Also, given the Coriolis effect at these exact GPS coordinates I calculate that if I touch you exactly two point three centimeters above your right clavicle…

mikewilliamsprofile_thumb4explosion_thumb12

INT. NEWSTERBAAN FIELD HOUSE. AUGUST 2009.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6 As you can see, the long-awaited results of our cloning projected have paid off even better than we expected. This year you go to a bowl or we block out the sun above Ann Arbor.

rich-rodriguez You don't think that's a little drastic?

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6 No. This is Michigan.

 denarddeerfield_thumb5 QUAAAAAAACK

rich-rodriguezrich-rodriguez-what

Charles_Montgomery_Burns_thumb6 Goddammit, get Brady in here again. This is going to take more time than I thought.

EXT. MEMORIAL STADIUM, MICHIGAN VS ILLINOIS. 2009

mikewilliamsprofile_thumb4 No! Not again!

juicewilliams_thumb11 All too easy.

mikewilliamsprofile_thumb4explosion_thumb12

EXT. EVERY OTHER ILLINOIS GAME, 2006-2009

ron_zook_thumb8 DO SOMETHING!

juicewilliams_thumb11 Quack.

ron_zook_thumb8 DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN THAT!

juicewilliams_thumb11explosion_thumb12

EXT. DIRT PRACTICE FIELD. SUMMER 2010.


EXT. MICHIGAN STADIUM, MICHIGAN VS UCONN, 2010.

denarddeerfield_thumb5 ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

randy-edsall2 Not in the face!

denarddeerfield_thumb5 ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP ZIP

randy-edsall2 Not in the face!

denarddeerfield_thumb5 VRRRREEEEEEESHOWWWWWWWWWWWWW

randy-edsall2 Randy-Edsall

randy-edsall2 Not there either.

rich-rodriguezrich-rodriguez-thumbsup

TO BE CONTINUED… BY EVENTS IN THE REAL WORLD! THIS TOTALLY HAPPENED!

Independence Denard: The Dark Before The Dawn

Independence Denard: The Dark Before The Dawn

Submitted by Brian on September 7th, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Obviously two things:

  1. Depending on whether or not BHGP likes it, this is either an homage to or straight ripoff of their posts in this vein, down to J Leman's presence. I have tried to make this up to them in the content. Also, the J Leman picture was first brought to the world in those Big Ten team previews I used to do.
  2. I can't confirm that this is true, if you know what I mean.

INT. CLANDESTINE NORTH CAMPUS GENETICS LAB—MEETING ROOM. 1992

A conference table is surrounded by hooded figures. One throws back the hood, revealing himself to be STEPHEN ROSS, super rich guy. Also seated are JAMES EARL JONES, sith lord, and DOOMED J. SCIENTIST, a scientist.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns I hereby bring this meeting of the Evil Michigan World Domination Illuminati to order. First order of business: the Desmond Howard cloning situation.

BrentSpiner_IndDay There have been some… issues. We have successfully dealt with the flippers, but it came at a cost.

darth-vader-face You have failed me for the last time, Doomed Scientist.

BrentSpiner_IndDay haacckckackaackak

Charles_Montgomery_Burns Always with the force choke, James. Can we get past the bit where you tell him his lack of faith is… disturbing and get on with it.

darth-vader-face I still don't see why we can't build a football stadium in the wave field and get Tom Harmon back.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns Yes, always with the force choke and the building it and the coming. Moving on. Doomed scientist?

BrentSpiner_IndDay We have now perfectly replicated Desmond Howard's lower body. There are some problems with the torso. As you can see on my powerpoint--

darth-vader-face You have failed me—

Charles_Montgomery_Burns Yes, for the last time. Spit it out, Doomed Scientist.

BrentSpiner_IndDay The main problem with the torso is that there isn't one. It just kind of… stops.

desmond-howard_the-pose

darth-vader-face I find its lack of torso—

Charles_Montgomery_Burns Yes, yes, disturbing. For the record, I do too. You have created a mindless abomination that can accelerate to full speed in half a second, stop on a dime, and juke like there's no tomorrow. Shoot it in he head.

BrentSpiner_IndDay It doesn't have a head.

Charles_Montgomery_Burns Then have Jones mystically force choke it to death. Next order of business: the destruction of Notre Dame football.

darth-vader-face I am positioning Texas A&M defensive coordinator Bob Davie to be the droid Lou Holtz is looking for.

Charles_Montgomery_Burnsmontgomery-burns

INT. CLANDESTINE NORTH CAMPUS GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1992.

BrentSpiner_IndDay I'm sorry. I'm sorry it has to end like this.

desmond-howard_the-pose  …

BrentSpiner_IndDay You're just a torso! Don't look at me like that.

desmond-howard_the-pose

BrentSpiner_IndDay I can't do this. We must escape!

jleman

 jleman Come with me.

BrentSpiner_IndDay J Leman?

jleman It is I.

BrentSpiner_IndDay Aren't you seven?

jleman What's your point?

BrentSpiner_IndDay Nothing. Let's go.

security_guard Halt!

pistol_m9_500  BLAM BLAM BLAM

BrentSpiner_IndDay Noooooooooo… [/expires]

jleman [Ninja CHOP!]

security_guard Noooooooo…

jleman Let's go, Desmond Howard lower body. I have plans for you.

desmond-howard_the-pose

INT. CLANDESTINE URBANA GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1999.

Another meeting room. BOB ZOOK, Ron Zook's evil but lazy twin, and a DUCK discuss dark matters.

bob-zook Mwahahaha! Seven years of mustache twirling and pot smoking are about to pay off tonight!

duck  You had better hope this plot works better than your last dozen, Zook. My patience runs thin. My pit of ravenous piranhas grows hungry. We must repay our arch-rivals for the generations who have endured nothing but humiliation!

bob-zook Oh, it will. Hark: here comes the strike team now.

jleman I have done as you asked, distasteful as it is.

tom-brady-2 mrphpmph.

bob-zook What's he's saying?

duck No doubt something like "you'll never get away with this, Hyper-Intelligent Duck That Secretly Runs Illinois." But I will. Mwa. Mwa haahahahaahaa!

bob-zook  Mwahahahahahaha!

lightning BOOM.

tom-brady-2 mrprhphphp.

duck Oh, let's listen. I love it when doomed heroes blather on.

bob-zook [removes gag]

tom-brady-2 You'll never get away with this, Cooper!

duck I said arch-rivals!

tom-brady-2 And by this you mean…

duck You know, your most hated rival!

tom-brady-2 Ohio State.

duck No! Other than Ohio State!

tom-brady-2 All right, then. You'll never get away with this, Davie!

duck No, your really really most hated serious very serious rival. Who you share a debilitating mutual hatred of! Not Notre Dame!

tom-brady-2 You'll never get away with this, Saban?

duck Aaaaaaaargh!

tom-brady-2 Alvarez? No… wait, I've got it. Mason!  You'll take the Little Brown Jug from my cold, dead hands!

duck No! How many times do I have…

[Tom Brady tries to remember all of the teams in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, GHOSTLY APPARITIONS of James Earl Jones and LAWRENCE KASDAN materialize nearby…]

anakin  J. I am your father.

jleman Noooooooooooooo! You're not my father!

anakin Search your heart. You know it to be true.

jleman Oh. My. God.

lawrence-kasdan I told you it would work.

anakin Free Tom Brady. This is un-American. Victories are born on the field, not in genetics labs.

jleman You speak truth. [Ninja CHOP!]

tom-brady-2 …I'm sorry, I'll get it in a second. You'll never get away with this, whoever Northwestern's coach is!

duck If I didn't need you for my diabolical plots I would impale you on my bill.

tom-brady-2 Also I appear to be free. [Impressive KICK!]

duck [flies towards complicated, ominous looking technological thing with glass tubing containing a familiar set of disembodied legs]

bob-zook No! Release the defensive ends!

adrian-clayborn I am free.

tom-brady-2 My one weakness! Lo, I am stripped of my merry band of protectors! Wait, aren't you 11?

adrian-clayborn The least realistic part of this is not my age but the idea Bob Zook and a duck could capture me. Allow me to take my rage out on you. [Devastating SACK!]

tom-brady-2 [flies towards same ominous technological thing]

duck [Thunderous CRASH!]

tom-brady-2 [Similarly thunderous CRASH!]

cloning_01 BZZZTERERFFFFFZZZZEDDDD CLONE SEQUENCE ERROR. MULTIPLE ORGANISMS. CROSS PRODUCT. CROSS PRODUCT. CROSS PRODUCT. MULTIDIMENSIONAL ARRAY. EIGENVECTOR. COMBINATION IN PROGRESS. OVERLOAD. OVERLOAD.

explosion

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO DESMOND HOWARD'S DISEMBODIED LEGS? WILL BOB ZOOK FACE HIS COMEUPPANCE? WILL TOM BRADY'S BEAUTIFUL FACE BE MANGLED? WILL BLACK HEART GOLD PANTS ORGANIZE A DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK ON MGOBLOG? STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE INTEGRATION AND INFILTRATION. TOMORROW!

Happy Third

Happy Third

Submitted by Brian on July 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 AM

The third of July, 1776: Ben Franklin buys some cigarettes and sleeps with a French lady. Let's celebrate by not going to work. Yes, I'm taking the day off, like everyone in an office. I must prepare for the tubemeatening.

Mandatory J Leman photo:

jleman

Optional Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers animated GIF:

power-rangers

See you Monday.

Unverified Voracity With The Half Cop-Out

Unverified Voracity With The Half Cop-Out

Submitted by Brian on May 25th, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Site note. Yes, you have "points." They don't do anything yet and won't until I can integrate some simple voting mechanisms, but the general idea is: annoy enough people and get enough downvotes and you get temporarily banned; continue on that path and the bans get progressively longer. The math might be tricky, lest I unleash a thermonuclear banhammer holocaust, so be patient.

softball-wins-over-baylor

via reader Bill Rapai

Softballin'. This has been noted multiple times on ye olde right sidebar, but a front page mention: the softball team splattered Baylor this weekend by a total score of 15-2. This was mostly due to a zillion home runs, all of which came after I sagely advised someone that softball homeruns were extremely rare. Go me.

It was actually my first time at Alumni Field. I'd planned on going the week before the insistent rain changed minds. I sat on the other side of a bleacher section from Samantha Findley, marveled at the attendance and the facility, missed a (by then meaningless) home run attempting to find the bathroom, and wished it hadn't gotten chilly so quickly. It was a nice time.

The team has set up a blogslapfight THUNDERDOME against Alabama next weekend at the CWS:

The Wolverines (46-10), seeded No. 5 overall, will play fourth-ranked and fourth-seeded Alabama (52-9) at 7 p.m. Thursday in Bracket 2. The game will be televised live on ESPN from ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

The winner plays the winner of #1 Florida—which is an astounding 60-3—and #9 Arizona; loser hits the loser's bracket.

There is much content elsewhere, including a profile of Carol Hutchins that contains this sentence: "My mom was right there and goes, 'Where else would you get a standing ovation but a bar.'"

Lynch. To hockey recruiting: We already knew that Kyle Woodlief of the Red Line Report was extremely impressed with Kevin Lynch's performance at the U18 World Championships, and his latest USA Today column confirms:

Other big winners from our time spent in Fargo include huge Russian netminder Igor Bobkov, sturdy Canadian winger Kyle Clifford, and two-way American center Kevin Lynch. … Lynch … continued to play his usual strong defensive game while battling ruggedly in front of the net and capitalizing on the chances his hard work created. …

Kevin Lynch— Was a two-way demon and key cog in the U.S. winning gold in Fargo. Showed more tenacity and skill than he had all year.

Lynch could have moved up into the second round with that tournament, and has radically upgraded expectations for his college career across just a few games. "Two-way demon" sounds excellent to me. He and Hagelin can have a fevered backchecking contest.

Smotrycz. I thought Rivals was the last scouting service to do a post-Smotrycz-explosion rerank, but I forgot about ESPN. ESPN has just done a revision and Smotrycz shoots all the way to #47, just in front of Wisconsin decommit Vander Blue and two slots behind Nate Lubick, the one who got away. He's actually in front of hyped MSU commit Keith Appling(!).

Other names of note are #20 Ray McCallum, #22 Casey Prather, #38 Trey Ziegler, and #93 Tim Hardaway, Jr. ESPN is way higher on mini-Hardaway than anyone else, FWIW.

Dingbats. The Detroit Tigers Weblog took a screencap of some young ladies who had dubbed themselves "Clete's Cougars" which got some play across the baseball blogosphere. Then Mike Valenti's crack team of web wizards cracked open their bananas and got to work, posting a non-attributed copy on their site. Billfer, the author of the DTW, was irritated:

Wednesday afternoon I was listening to 97.1 The Ticket (unfortunately the only sports talk around in the afternoon) when host Mike Valenti directed people to 971theticket.com for a picture of Clete’s Cougars. I was curious so I ventured over to see what picture they had, and I was a little surprised to see the picture I had posted. It was there with no mention or link back to my site.

Multiple attempts to contact 97.1 and get a link were not responded to, as per usual. Billfer notes the irony of Valenti complaining about bloggers' lack of accountability. As for me, I'm just glad the guys at 97.1 took my advice to heed and used the "save as" option; the last time they did this they put up a screenshot of this here blog. Way to go, guys. Next up: we discuss the anchor tag.

And now you're probably wondering… is he going to go with the American flag as an excuse for a light day of posting? Yes. Yes I am.

jleman

Until tomorrow. Eat some tube meat, kids.

All Big Ten 2006: Defense

All Big Ten 2006: Defense

Submitted by Brian on November 28th, 2006 at 4:58 PM

The official teams just bucket players into three categories: line, LB, and DB. I think this is dumb. For instance, all four first-team DBs are cornerbacks. Uh... okay. This list breaks the line down into DT and DE and the defensive backs into CB and S. Linebackers are still one big bin.

Remember: Notre Dame worthies are included, though this is way less funny for the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive End

1. Lamarr Woodley, Michigan

If you read this blog, you know about Woodley. He has 11.5 sacks and equal-if-not-greater contributions that only show up in OCD game charting. He is the face of the Michigan defense that was so magnificent for 11 of Michigan's 12 games and one of the premiere defensive ends in the country. Justifying his inclusion is like justifying Troy Smith's.

1. Anthony Spencer, Purdue

If Spencer's luck holds -- and let's hope it doesn't -- he'll be playing for the Detroit Lions next year. He was a capital-M Man without a defense in 2006. Anything the Boilermakers managed to do right on that side of the ball was a direct result of something Spencer did. And lord, he did a lot: a Matt-Rothian 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. His most impressive/depressing statistic, though was his 86 tackles, second on the team. At defensive end! Spencer was the Kevin Garnett of the Big Ten in 2006. Like Garnett, he should be commended for not snapping and breaking the neck of any of his incompetent teammates.

2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State

Alternated terrifying edge rushes with equally terrifying (to Ohio State fans) wild run irresponsibility early. As the season wore on the former remained and the latter dwindled, making Gholston scary to only one set of fans. I don't like the idea of him next year, and that's what this list is: Michigan players I love and opposing players I hate. So, yeah. I hate Gholston. Congratulations.

2. Brian Mattison, Iowa

Doesn't have the stats a few others do, but what can I say? I just like the guy. Uh... hate the guy. You know what I mean. When I UFRed the Iowa-Michigan game, he was all over Michigan's zone running game. When I did a tape review of the Iowa-Ohio State game, he was the only guy with a concept of containment and the only guy capable of getting to Troy Smith. Those were Iowa's two biggest games of the year, and he was one of the best players on the field in both

Defensive Tackle

1. Alan Branch, Michigan

Mountain of a defensive tackle who didn't rack up a ton of flashy stats except this one: #1, as in Michigan's rushing defense (despite those, uh, hiccups versus Ohio State, which only served to bring that defense back down into the realms of the mortal). Branch is a disruptor on the interior and a guy you single block at your peril, just like...

1. Quinn Pitcock, Ohio State

A sure first-rounder in April's NFL draft, Pitcock was far and away the best player on Ohio State's defense, crashing through interior lines like they were made of the slightest cotton en route to eight sacks, eleven tackles for loss, and a lot of easy plays for his linebackers.

2. Ed Johnson, Penn State

I know Alford had more sacks and tackles for loss, but when I watched Penn State it was Johnson who was the more consistent of the two Penn State tackles. Alford is a penetrator who relies a lot on quickness and runs himself out of plays here and there, while Johnson is one of those 6'0", 310 pound fireplugs that drives people into the backfield with remarkable regularity. Johnson made more plays than his partner, but fewer of them showed up in his statistics.

2. David Patterson/Terrance Taylor/Jay Alford, OSU/UM/PSU

Yes, this is a cop out. Each benefited from playing next to the above terrors. Alford is a penetrator and a playmaker like Pitcock, while Patterson and Taylor are more in the mold of Johnson. Each filled the space next to their partner with a second playmaking defensive tackle and created havoc in opposing offenses.

Linebacker

1. David Harris, Michigan

Made the leap from pretty good to outstanding his senior year, tracking down backs sideline-to-sideline on all manner of run and pass plays. Other than Branch, he was the man most responsible for Michigan's #1 rush defense. Criminally left off the Butkus finalist list, he's the best Michigan linebacker I can remember (this extends only back to Jarrett Irons, freaked out 40-something Michigan fans). He played nearly every snap Michigan's defense faced and made only one glaring error, a busted coverage that led to Wisconsin's touchdown. I hate the idea of a middle linebacker other than him.

1. J Leman, Illinois

Does anyone remember how awful the Illinois defense was a year ago? Probably not. If you have data about the 2005 Fighting Illini in your head, you are wasting space that could be more productively used with something like the jeans preferences of squirrels. Well, I know nothing about the sartorial splendor of squirrels (imagine Lou Holth thaying that five timeth fath), but I do remember that the 2005 Illinois defense was an abomination.

So if I told you that the 2006 version of same was above average, you'd want to hand out a medal. Well: here's the medal. Leman racked up 152 tackles, 19 for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles as the Illini shot up to 40th in total defense. He was the guy running around against Ohio State stuffing the Buckeye's six million second-half runs. He was... good. Which is weird to say about an Illinois player, let me tell you.

Also: his first name is "J". No period. No abbreviation. Just a letter. He is also unmistakably rocking a mullet in that headshot. Rocking a mullet and wearing an American flag tie. He is Joe Dirt, linebacker. That demands recognition.

1. Dan Connor, Penn State

Outperformed his more touted partner in the opinion of most Penn State fans, and that's good enough for me. He was a force in the PSU games I watched, slightly more likley to burst into the backfield and maul an unsuspecting running back. His 103 tackles came from an outside linebacker position, while Posluszny's 108 came in the middle: slight advantage Connor.

2. Paul Posluszny, Penn State

Probably didn't deserve the Butkus last year (AJ Hawk) or his finalist status this year (arrrrgh David Harris), but still a damn good linebacker. Against Michigan he refused to stay blocked on the second level, slanting and shedding his way to bottle up Mike Hart time and again. Though Hart would finish with 112 yards, they would be his toughest of the season.

2. Mark Zalewski, Wisconsin

I'm mildly upset at my own list here, which is virtually ignoring the Big Ten's fourth badass defense: Wisconsin. They have a couple first-teamers in the secondary, but hardly any representation up front, largely because they suffer from the same problem Ohio State wide receivers do: too much balance. Zalewski doesn't have a million tackles but he does have a mohawk and a bad attitude. (I was briefly tempted to have the second team linebackers be Zalewski, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable so I could make some comment about pityi ng the fool who tries to run on them, but I was quickly tackled and injected with sedatives when I mentioned it. And thank God for that.)

2. James Laurinaitis, Ohio State

My position on Laurinaitis and his magic, leather-magnetized hands has been made clear: dude is way overrated and belongs nowhere near the Butkus finalist list or the All-American teams he'll no doubt feature on. I blame two people: Troy Smith and Brent Musberger. Smith is the primary motor for Ohio State's #1 ranking and Musberger's intolerable boosterism of him during the Texas game, Iowa game, and every other game was repeated so often that it became true in the minds of the brainwashed masses.

...but he does have his good points. He is fast, able in zone drops -- to get Drew Tate to throw the ball right at you you have to be in good position -- and a good blitzer. If he's kept clean he will fill and tackle ably. He's not bad by any stretch of the imagination and... sigh... deserves a place on this team. But on the second team, dammit, until he defeats a block. Any block.

Cornerback

1. Leon Hall, Michigan

I was confused about the Hall hype -- top corner in the draft, Playboy All-American -- going into the season, thinking him more a Jeremy Lesueur type who would be first or second team all conference and a second or third round pick. I was wrong. Hall is the best Michigan corner since Woodson, solid against both the run and the pass, a superb tackler and technician. He does not have the outrageous athleticism of someone like Justin King, but makes up for it with instincts and smarts. A probable top-ten pick in April's draft.

1. Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin

By all rights should be playing for Purdue with that last name, but the Badgers are glad to have him. Ikegwuonu's matchup with Manningham was the most difficult the Michigan sophomore faced all year -- his long touchdown victimized Allen Langford -- as he found his outs, slants, and the like blanketed, leaving Michigan almost no margin for error on those throws. That's all you can do as a cornerback.

2. Justin King, Penn State

Let's get this out of the way: he can't tackle worth a lick. Run at him and he may as well be a ballerina. But in pure coverage terms, he might be the best in the league. Living up to the recruiting hype, as corners tend to do, his athleticism is NFL-caliber and his instincts are good. Hard to beat deep and hard to sit down in front of, King is a thorn in the side of opposing passing games.

2. Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

A jam artist and a tough customer in run support, Jenkins is an up-and-comer in the league. If he manages to rein in his aggression and be smarter about when to back off, he'll be a complete corner. As of now he still gets burnt-crispy deep with some regularity. This year it wasn't relevant since Ohio State got so many sacks and faced so many hobbled or plain bad quarterbacks.

Safety

1. Roderick Rogers, Wisconsin

Rogers didn't have to do much against the run thanks to the imposing Wisconsin front seven (their absence from this team should not reflect poorly on them -- it's a tough year to get on this team up there). Free to play centerfield, Rogers picked off two passes, broke up seven others, and was key in Wisconsin's #1 ranked pass efficiency defense -- a number that's overstated due to the Badgers' Minnesota-worthy schedule but still damn impressive.

1. Brandon Mitchell, Ohio State

Ohio State safeties are beginning to bother me like Ohio State kickers do. Where do they unearth these people, and do they have a patent? I bet there's a lab somewhere.

2. Anthony Scirroto, Penn State

I give up and give in to five interceptions. I don't like doing this, but I begin to understand why there are four cornerbacks on the All Big Ten first teams.

2. Jamar Adams, Michigan

Michigan rotated four safeties all year, but what they really did is rotate three guys through free safety and have them play next to Adams, a solid run defender who's comptetent-ish in pass coverage. Yes, it's a weak year for safeties.