Unverified Voracity Is Afraid Of The Mississippi Black Hole Again

Unverified Voracity Is Afraid Of The Mississippi Black Hole Again

Submitted by Brian on August 6th, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Number one breakout. ESPN's Travis Haney compiled a list of 50 breakout players for the upcoming season based on "a lot of input from coaches" and your new favorite quarterback is #1:

“I recruited him,” said one of the Big Ten coaches who played against Gardner late last year. “I know how good he can be. I would say I have been looking forward to him getting his chance, because he’s a really good kid, but they’re on the schedule again this year.”

Frank Clark also features at #35.

Swag. We are totally losing Michael Ferns to Mississippi State, you guys.

image

Following up on earlier assertion. I mentioned in passing in a previous post that I felt Bill Connolly was way underrating LeVeon Bell and way overrating Michigan State's offensive line in his Spartan preview for the year, and as I was looking up various things about Derrick Green I came across a stunning stat on Bell:

Le'Veon Bell gained 921 yards after contact in 2012, most among players from AQ schools. Bell gained more than 50 percent of his yards after contact and averaged 2.4 yards after contact per rush.

Bell got 2.3 yards before contact and 2.4 after. That is a man doing work to clean up for a terrible offensive line. And quarterback: Bell's 382 carries led the nation by 26.

Countdowns to kickoff. Taylor Lewan:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 28 - Taylor Lewan by mgovideo

Lewan is a thousand times more boring than he used to be. Leadership!

Also Quinton Washington and Jeremy Gallon. True story: bought a chair at Art Van this summer, marveled at the size of the guy they had hauling stuff around, realized that I knew who this was: Quinton Washington. Woo minimum wage, for one more year.

Also, the first day of practice:

Michigan Football First Practice Fall 2013 by mgovideo

Derrick Green's first carry went for 50 yards and birthed a unicorn.

Wide receivers block, then they receive. In-depth ESPN article on the blocking aspects of playing out wide comes highly recommended for interesting quotes and such. Minnesota safety Brock Vereen is either worried about his knees or an expert at backhanded compliments:

“They act as if they are more excited to block than they are to catch a pass,” Minnesota safety Brock Vereen said. “Sadly, I’m not even exaggerating.”

Michigan's dumped cut blocking for a lot of reasons, but the primary one is the fact that defensive backs just get up too darn fast these days:

“They are like those Weeble Wobbles that you had growing up,” Hecklinski said. “You can throw a great cut and he’s right back up making a play and golly, that’s a great cut."

"Golly," says the man eating everyone's lunch on the recruiting trail. #TheMichiganDifference.

The article gestures at one of the main reasons Michigan's wide receivers were so pumped up to block: with Denard Robinson on your team, any play could be a 20 yard run you fail to turn into 80, and then your ass is roasted. Hopefully they maintain the same urgency as Michigan moves to a system more likely to get you five (after contact, and by "contact" I mean "safety murder") than 50.

Hoke advocates earlier official visits. Makes sense, will never happen for the same reason a baseball season that makes sense will never happen:

“Having an official visit date in June would help football,” Hoke stated. “I know some of our friends in the Pac 12 and the SEC probably don’t want the young man and his family coming up to Michigan during the first two weeks in June, because they’re hoping it’s 10 below zero when those official visits take place.”

A rather large win. Wolverine Historian puts up the '95 Minnesota game:

Mack Brown offer letter. I just find this interesting. It's an official offer letter from Mack Brown to a guy named Lorenzo:

large[1]

[bigger version here]

Items:

  • The first bullet is basically Michigan's much-discussed and much-misunderstood "policy" about commits taking visits: you are committed if you are not taking visits, and if you visit elsewhere Michigan will not consider you committed. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll pull your scholarship offer, but your spot is no longer reserved and they may recruit someone else or just reconfigure their class. Why recruiting sites, opposing fans, and Michigan fans keep going on and on about it is a mystery to me.
  • Texas is explicitly offering four year scholarships, and seems to state that a fifth year is also guaranteed… but I think the fine print there means the firm handshake is still an option if the Head Coach wants it to be.
  • The pointlessness of the rule where players cannot get written offers before August 1st of their senior year is brought home in the first paragraph: Texas is "pleased to reconfirm our commitment to the football athletic scholarship you committed to earlier this year." The lack of written offers has led to the rise of the incredibly annoying "uncommittable offer" and prevents players from getting the exact stipulations of their scholarship offer in writing until long after many of them have committed. And it obviously does nothing to slow down the pace of recruiting.

The only way to slow down the pace of recruiting, by the way, is to let kids sign whenever they want. Eighth grader offers will come to a screeching halt, for real.

SBNation has a roundup of offer letters from around the country, featuring Comic Sans from Virginia Tech, "formally" spectacularly misspelled as "formerly" by Virginia, and Illinois claiming that those who attend there will play "championship football." That latter might be true if in fact the Big Ten has been relegated to the second level of English soccer. Which it probably has after last year. We done got relegated you guys.

Quite a rise. Four Michigan players make the final roster at the USA World Juniors evaluation camp: JT Compher, Tyler Motte, Boo Nieves… and Andrew Copp. I think 14 of the 18 forwards on the roster will be on the WJC team, so Copp's gone from JJ Swistak But Big to a guy with a very good chance of making the WJC team in 12 months. Wow.

Amen. Hoke on ND:

"I do not like the fact it's going away," Hoke said.

Asked who is a fault for all this, Hoke responded simply: "We would like to continue the series."

Realignment has replaced the ND game and games against Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern with Rutgers and Maryland.

Etc.: Harmon Of Michigan's theme song is a "Hollywood-style rendition of the Victors," and MVictors has it. Michigan Hockey Net posts the famous 2002 Denver-Michigan West Regional Final at Yost. Michigan players on the O'Bannon case.

Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State

Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State

Submitted by Ace on October 18th, 2012 at 10:31 AM


Pictured: Will Gholston; Not pictured: Will Gholston making a play

I'm apparently a blogger of the self-hating variety, as yesterday I re-watched last weekend's Michigan State-Iowa opposite-of-a-barnburner and even sat through both overtimes. The things I do for you people (and a paycheck, I guess).

You probably know the story from this one; MSU couldn't hold on to two different ten-point leads or muster much of anything on offense, improbably losing to a Hawkeye team that averaged 3.7 yards per play after Andrew Maxwell tossed an interception in the second overtime. While this contest was fun for rivalry purposes, it was absolutely terrible for the game of football.

Let's move on to the breakdown while I still have the will to live.

OFFENSE

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Largely pro-style. State operates from under center on almost all standard downs, only going to the shotgun when they need to put the ball in the air.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? MSU runs a largely zone-heavy rushing attack, though they'll mix in a heavy dose of POWER and a few isos.

Hurry it up or grind it out? State managed a 42.8% adj. pace last year when they featured an actual passing offense. My guess is that figure will be even lower after this year, becausezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*criesinsleep*zzzzzzzzzzz.

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Andrew Maxwell does not attempt to scramble or really move outside of the pocket. There's a reason for this. Here's a possibly-generous 3.

Dangerman: I was going to save this for the play breakdown, but whateva I do what I want:

That's LeVeon Bell, obviously, who's rushed for 916 yards and eight touchdowns on 200(!) carries this season. No other player on the Spartans has more than 16 carries. I think they call those "bellhorses" or "workcows" but it's early in the morning so I may be wrong here.

Anyway, the above is a prime example of why Bell is so dangerous. He's very adept at seeing the hole in a zone run and cutting to the backside, as he does above, and his combination of power and athleticism often allows him to make State's rather ineffective blocking irrelevant. Watch the center and right guard on that play; they pull off an effective double of the nose guard, but RG #62—Chris McDonald, reputedly their best lineman—fails to get off the block and chip anyone at the second level—you can see him make a desperation dive for MLB James Morris (#44) far after he has any chance to make a block.

But LeVeon Bell is very, very good, and simply adjusts by juking two linebackers out of their shoes and carrying two defensive backs into the end zone. He will make something out of nothing, and that something will be the majority of the MSU offense.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown, including the reincarnation of John L. and more evidence that William Gholston is the most overrated player in the Big Ten, and possibly the country.]

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-17-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-17-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 17th, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Bullets:

  • Elliott Mealer mentioned that the scout team does something "extra" for motivation. Hoke, unsurprisingly, does not reveal what that is. 
  • UPDATE: It is THIS. [h/t indyeagle]
  • Drake Johnson is playing running back for the scout team. So is Norfleet.
  • This was the shortest presser ever, so there is no jump.

Brady Hoke

file

Opening remarks:

“Good practice yesterday I think on both sides of the ball. I liked how we competed with each other. Thought that, you know, when you put in the plan and sometimes Tuesday’s a little more thinking, I thought we reacted well and I thought we had a good tempo and were playing fast.”

You’ve practiced well in previous weeks, but is the focus more intense during a rivalry week?

“Well I think it’s been a continuation, but I also would agree that when you play in a rivalry game, there’s always a little more intensity to it.”

Did you do anything different in practice?

“Not really. I mean, uh … no.”

On the scout team?

“They … know their role, so they practice hard.”

How has the scout team been this year?

“I think, you know, it probably would have been a little better if we didn’t have some of those guys dinged up, like Wormley or Chris Bryant. Whether they’d be up or down, just your ability with depth and those things. But I think they’ve worked hard. We give an award out every week to guys on each side of the ball, and who in the kicking game does a great job, giving looks, so. I think they’re doing a good job. I think they’re motivated. Our young coaches, our GA’s do a good job of prepping them each week with watching film and mechanics and all that stuff.”

Do you have them wearing green during the week?

“Uh, you know, sometimes you do.”

With the way Le’Veon Bell is size-wise, do you have a particular guy on the scout team mimic him?

“No. You know, Drake Johnson gets most of the heavy lifting. Fleet gets down there to run some, but we don’t have anybody that size that you would use for that.”

Would you say Taylor Lewan has lived up to the expectations for him this season?

“I think he’s played pretty solid.”

The secondary is ranked third in the nation in pass defense. Is that because they’re playing that well or have they just not been tested enough?

“Well, I don’t know if we’ve been tested, you know. We haven’t had balls thrown down the field vertically in the pass game. I think this will -- since early in the year …”

You mentioned how --

“… really Alabama, to be honest with you. So I think that’s all part of it, where we’re playing a lot of spread teams that want to use the bubbles and want to use those things. I think that’s a fair assessment. I think we haven’t been tested yet.”

Are you interested in seeing how they stack up against a downfield passing team?

“Oh sure. Sure. I mean, I don’t know. I like the bubble screens and stuff like that.”

Does it speak at least a little bit to how your safeties have been playing?

“That’s a big deal. It’s made all the time. We want to be inside and in front. It’s a big part of whether you’re playing two-deep or playing single high, you have to do a good job of if you’re the guy, you have to keep your depth and be the last one to the party. I think those two guys have been a catalyst, and I think J.T. has improved every week.”

Are any of the ACL injury guys close to practicing?

“No.”

Are they in rehab?

“Rehab. They’re doing fine. Some of them are at different levels.”

Do you think any of those guys will be able to practice by the end of the year?

“Probably not.”

Assessment of Michigan State’s defensive line without Jerel Worthy?

“Well I think they’ve filled it in pretty well. I think they’re very aggressive. I think Ted Gill, their D-line coach, who was one of my coaches at Ball State in college, has done a nice job of developing that group. That style defense is such that it’s an aggressive defense.”

You mentioned you have some guys wearing green…

“At times there is green out there … We have grass. Field turf.”

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Ludicrous Speed

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Ludicrous Speed

Submitted by Brian on August 13th, 2012 at 11:01 AM

PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT TEAMS COMPRISED OF BIG TEN PLAYERS IN AN EFFORT TO IMPRESS ONLOOKERS":

HEIKO did some crazy stuff, then stopped being that crazy. He'll probably stop doing crazy stuff entirely at this point.

ACE started drafting Wisconsin players, then started drafting MSU players, then had a tiny Bret Bielema head sprout from his shoulder. He'll probably stop drafting Wisconsin players because this seems like a poor development for a single guy.

SETH got Denard, then started being a homer for the Michigan offensive line.

BRIAN got stuck with Scheelhaase, tried to murder everyone else's quarterbacks with pass rush, and retired to his underground bunker to plot evilly.

READERS inadvertently learned stuff about the league.

WE PICK UP OUR BRAVE DRAFTERS just after the start of ROUND EIGHT. HEIKO is on the clock in the PRESIDENTIAL SUITE of the ISHPEMING RED ROOF INN. He paces back and forth, remembering the horrible nightmares he had just hours ago. Nightmares about… about… Gibbons/Broekhuizen 2010.

ED-S: Google Doc lives here.

--------------------------------

HEIKO

[ED: the following pre-pick comments are in re: my concern about a lack of Wolverines.]

Could be worse. We could be Nebraska, whose quarterback I turned into a running back and whose school record-setting running back is being coveted by nobody.

On the other hand...

images[3]PICK: Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: So I see we're supposed to take two kickers, huh (see first email). What if I only need one? That would totally free up a spot to take another player, like another quarterback, perhaps. Boy do I love me those quarterbacks, so that's why I'm going to go ahead and take Brett Maher right now before someone else steals my genius idea. Maher has the B1G's best leg, period. He can kick off, punt, and PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AHHHH. Last season he averaged 44.5 yards/punt (best in B1G) and made 19/23 FGs (2nd best % in B1G). Those performances got him first team All-America recognition in both kicking categories, and this season he's the favorite for both the Ray Guy Award (best punter in the nation) and the Lou Groza Award (best kicker in the nation). Shall I continue? He's really good, you guys.

SNARK: Don't waste your time -- there are no other dual-threat kickers in the league. I already looked. The closest thing you'll get is Michigan's Matt Wile (hypothetically), but just know that Matt Wile got beaten out for placekicker by Brendan Gibbons.

------------------------------

ACE

UW Northwestern FootballPICK: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

CURRENT O:  Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Taylor led the conference with 150 tackles last season from his weakside spot, nine of those going for a loss. He and Borland should once again combine to flirt with 300 tackles and 30 TFL, helping to cover for potential interior D-line deficiencies, which is nice since I currently don't have an interior D-line. Also, Aceconsin.

SNARK: Heiko, your shenanigans started as cheeky and fun. Now they're just cruel and tragic.

------------------------------

SETH

Michigan fear? Well to be honest only MSU looks as good as Michigan on my draft board. And even if you have the 1997 Michigan defense (which they don't) you need at least a Brian Griese to run the table. So no, not worried.

Michael Williams Gerald Hodges Alabama v Penn wSH_aZomBDJl[1]PICKS: Gerald Hodges, linebacker, The Former Pennsylvanian Republic of State College and Happy Valley; and Jordan Kovacs, safety, Michigan [ed: fist shaking!]

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, MICH), Michael Schofield (OT, MICH) [I swear you'll get some friends soon guys, really]

CURRENT D:  Kawann Short (3T, PUR), Johnathan Hankins (NT, OSU), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jonathan Brown (MLB, ILL), Gerald Hodges (SLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, MICH), Micah Hyde (CB, IOWA)

EXPLANATION (SCREW BREVITY): Purveyors of UFR and opponent previews can go gaga for various Larry Footes, but the speedster I had first on my draft board at OLB is the guy Penn State fans call the latest great Linebacker of Linebacklehem, and national pundits call a Butkus candidate. Give reality its standard Penn State Fan and national pundits discount and he's still a dude with 106 tackles (mostly solo) and totally non-FAKE 4.48 speed.

While he looks kind of like a safety, he put enough time in the weight room to be this offseason's second-most likely person to be mentioned in an article concerning State College athletic facilities. He also generated 10 TFLs and 4.5 sacks, those backfield numbers coming mostly from plays where he was blowing up bubble screens (including one ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIELD!). When he did blitz--not nearly often enough--he had a Shawn Crable-like ability to knife past blockers before they're out of their stances. On my defense he's going to be what we wish (in the wishiest of wishes) Cam Gordon could be: a tall, north-south-east-west SAM who shuts down the slot and also does the Crable things.

Jordan Kovacs vs WMU[1]And Kovacs: The only possible explanation for the far and away best player (next is either Ibraheim Campbell or Christian Bryant) at such an important defensive position slipping this far is that he's a walk-on from some school nobody's ever heard of. A quick search of opponent message boards will teach you all you need know about Kovacs, which is that he's a walk-on who walked onto the team as a student body walk-on, and only played since his freshman year because his nowhere team didn't have any scholarship players after they all ran off because of Rich Rod.

He's probably short and white and slow and has to be carried in coverage, and is only on my team because I want journalists to have a feelgood Gritty McGritterson with LEADERSHIP™ story to write about after those games when I've held my opponent under 100 yards. That plus he's the best tackler in the Big Ten, and can diagnose the offense's play up to 3.2 milliseconds after they break the huddle.

SNARK: That's right, Ace, 150 tackles for Mike Taylor: 60 unassisted, and 90 when he leapt onto an already-coagulating pile of bodies because somebody told him there was cheese in there. In Soviet Russia every comrade get tackle assist.

--------------------------------

ACE

l4860635[1]PICK: Ricardo Allen, cornerback, Purdue

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: With Johnny Adams providing strong run support for me on the boundary, I can go with the small (5'9", 186) but aggressive Allen, who has started every game for Purdue in his first two seasons. Despite his lack of size, Allen is known for his press coverage, and with three interceptions in each of his first two years—three of which he returned for touchdowns—he's got a knack for the big play. Allen is no slouch against the run, either, with 60 solo tackles in 2011; you could blame poor coverage for that high total, but I'll point to the non-Kawaan Short portion of the Purdue defense. I'd worry about this pick a bit if any team could field two big, playmaking wide receivers, but unless you're really drinking the DG Kool-Aid there aren't two in the entire conference, let alone on any one team in this draft.

SNARK: Interesting that you should point out the solo tackle numbers, Seth, since Borland and Taylor are first and third, respectively, among returning B1G players in that very statistic. Let's not blame them for happening to regularly converge on the ballcarrier at the same time.

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HEIKO

10077400-large[1]PICK: Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Isaiah Lewis (S, MSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Not that you guys have any receivers to cover, but just to insure against some random walk-on (note that I did not say "white guy," though they do sound similar) running loose in the secondary, I'll take Isaiah Lewis. He's the best free safety in the B1G with 74 tackles and 4 INTs (two of which were returned for TDs) last season. More importantly I didn't want to get stuck with Ibraheim Campbell, whose stock is inflated because he intercepted two of Denard's backfoot throws. Whoopty-doo. I remember him more prominently as being on the losing end of a Junior Hemingway jump ball, but then again, who wasn't?

SNARK: You guys are so predictable. Brian's next two picks: Ibraheim Campbell and C.J. Barnett.

-----------------------------------------

BRIAN

University-of-Michigan-player-Fitzgerald-Toussaint[1]

CJ Barnett is the safety guy futilely chasing Toussaint. I mention this on a whim only.
BONUS: yeah, that's Shazier behind Toussiant, too.

PICKS: Fitzgerald Toussaint, M, RB, and LeVeon Bell, HB/FB, Michigan State

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), Taylor Lewan(LT, M)

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Seth is probably going to be mad since he expected the two of us to play chicken with the tailbacks for a while longer, but I'm going to push Bell to my spread's "superback" slot—think Owen Schmitt—and pick up the two most productive runners in the league not being gently escorted to the endzone by Wisconsin's offensive line. I'd rather have the two guys averaging 5.2 YPC than Burkhead and his durable but incredibly boring production.

You probably know about Toussaint, who is Mike Hart but fast but not as powerful and more likely to be suspended. After battling through injuries for most of his career he took off after his inexplicable two carries against MSU. He cracked 100 yards in four of the final six games, only failing to make it against Iowa (when the offense devolved into an under-center I-form attack that Michigan couldn't block for) and Virginia Tech. That latter was an all-around collapse not traceable to Toussaint. When healthy, Toussaint can juke in a phone booth and set sail for the endzone after doing so. He's a natural fit for a spread and should go over 1000 yards easily this year as long as he calls a cab when he should. BONUS: Toussaint has not fumbled yet.

leveon-bell-18jpg-d3d3077bf162312c_large[1]Bell provides the thunder to Toussaint's lightning. He may have had the most impressive season of any tailback in the Big Ten last year, averaging 5.2 YPC behind Michigan State's patchwork line and chasing Edwin Baker off to an NFL that wasn't really interested. The contrast between Bell and Baker's production is shocking: despite Baker lighting up the crappy edges of Michigan's defense to the tune of 167 yards, he could only manage 3.9 YPC on the season despite having more of his carries against the dregs of the schedule.

At 6'2", 237, Bell is definitely big enough to take on whatever blocking duties will be required, and as a bonus if you put him one in one in space with a linebacker or secondary guy he will run them over productively. He's also a good option out of the backfield with 35 catches a year ago--third most on the MSU roster. He's Brandon Minor, but bigger and more useful as a receiver.

EVIDENTLY REQUIRED SNARK ABOUT PREVIOUS PICKS: Ruling on taking a combo kicker: Heiko can use the extra slot on a quarterback as long as that quarterback is assigned to a spot on defense.

---------------------------------------

HEIKO

Eric-Page-scores-a-touchdown-for-Toledo-Rockets[1]PICK: C.J. Barnett, S, Ohio State [ED: face down @ right. Not that this is why I avoided him like death. /SNARK'D]

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL),
Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR,
MSU)
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Fine, if Brian wants to spite me and not take C.J. Barnett, I'll take him. Just to be clear, Barnett -- not Christian Bryant -- is Ohio State's strong safety. I know this because I checked my own preview in HttV, which was coauthored by both Seth and Ramzy Nasrallah, and I trust this preview more than Phil Steele. Anyhow, Barnett is the strong safety version of Isaiah Lewis. He's fast, hard-hitting, has excellent ball skills, and is probably going to be some kind of All-B1G once the season is done. Last year he had 75 tackles and two interceptions.

Ohio State's entire defense returns this year, and they retain Luke Fickell as one of their defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. As such, the unit as a whole should improve and Barnett should be in much better position make plays this season.

I know, I know, taking Lewis and Barnett back to back isn't as sexy as my previous picks, but I just got myself the B1G's best safety tandem. Have fun deciding between Ibraheim Campbell and Tanner Miller or something while I go back to being sexy.

SNARK: Reaction to ruling on taking a combo kicker: Maybe I'll take a quarterback, maybe I won't. I just checked my roster and it seems I have pretty decent depth at that position. How are your quarterbacks doing?

------------------------------------

ACE

Campbell-in-space-after-1st-INT-vs-Robinson[1]PICK: Ibraheim Campbell, safety, Northwestern

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: All Campbell did as a redshirt freshman last year was record 100 tackles with 3.5 TFL, 2 INTs, and 4 PBUs en route to Freshman All-America honors. At 5'11", 205, he can come up and lay the wood from his safety spot, and he's lauded for his natural instincts. As a bonus, heading into his sophomore year, Campbell should improve at a greater rate than the upperclassmen comprising the lion's share of our rosters. In this league, I want a defense that can stop the run, and while I'm still lacking the DTs at least I have a lot of players who can cover for that weak spot. I'm pretty sure Michigan is banking on the same this season, and we think that can work out, right? Right?

SNARK: Yes, how are your quarterbacks doing, Brian?

-----------------------------------

SETH

Michigan St Nebraska FootballPICKS: Rex Burkhead, running back, Nebraska; and Kofi Hughes, wide receiver, Indiana

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, NEB), Kofi Hughes (WR, IN), Michael Schofield (OT, M)

CURRENT D: Kawann Short (3T, PUR), Johnathan Hankins (NT, OSU), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jonathan Brown (MLB, ILL), Gerald Hodges (SLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, MICH), Micah Hyde (CB, IOWA)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Seth is gonna be mad, huh? That you not only broke our unstated running back pact (which could have guaranteed us these same guys when Ace is down to drafting Muenster Emmentaler and Heiko is teaching Max Shortell to play tight end) but took two guys while doing it? Mad that I got stuck with...oh, look, two Heisman candidates in my backfield. Drat.

As forced consolation prizes go, Burkhead is no Scheelhaase. You call 1,357 rushing yards and 17 TDs boring? Well how about a guy who ran for 4.8 YPC against defenses who didn't have to wander more than 5 yards off the LOS with old Tyranno-arm at QB, and behind a busted up offensive line? He's got more career receiving yards than all of Heiko's All Star bin to go along with the ridiculous rushing totals, never goes down on first contact, and has a penchant for heroics against Michigan's rivals. If getting played means pairing my Denard Robinson action figure with Mike Hart except fewer fumbles and is more bothersome to Spartans, call me PLAYAH.

Kofi Hughes Indiana v Ohio State 638XPuygFfml[1]And while I'm under the gun I'd better get a receiver while there's some gettin' left. For this I've dug up junior Kofi Hughes, who's basically any of Heiko's wide receivers if any of Heiko's receivers played wide receiver in the Big Ten last year. Actually he's Junior Hemingway if Hemingway was an inch shorter and languishing in Indiana. Kofi is a big target and a leaping-type of deep threat (35 catches for 536 yards) who's never caught a ball he didn't have to fight for. Hughes gives me that downfield outlet to occasionally make something out of the occasional DENARD: NO!, and can otherwise block the snot out of puny CBs when TEAM HEISMAN is doing their thing. Downside: held out of one game for a violation of team rules, but that didn't stop Brian with Toussaint.

SNARK: Speaking of the must-draft rule, there's three strong safeties off the board now, so what's it gonna be Brian? Shelton Johnson? Suppo Sanni?

[ED: at this point it was mutually agreed on that 1) SS was too specific and positions for must-drafts were broken down like so: QB, RB, WR/TE(4), OL(5), DE(2), DT(2), LB(3), CB(3), S(2), with kickers and our FB/HB spot exempted and 2) we would extend the must-draft provision to three rounds from the original two. And by "mutually agreed on" I mean "decided by fiat."]

Our league commissioner

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ACE

975385[1]PICK: Travis Frederick, center, Wisconsin

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'll cop to a critical error in drafting, as I chose a strong safety before Seth's picks even though he had Kovacs, therefore losing my chance to stick Burkhead in the same backfield with Ball and run you all to death. Damn. So, I'll take Frederick, a behemoth of a center at 6'4", 338. In 2009, he became the first true freshman lineman in Wisconsin history to start on opening day, and he was a consensus All-B1G second team selection at guard last year. I'll stick Frederick at center for now, though I could flip him to guard depending on how the rest of the draft shakes out.

No snark here, just kicking myself for allowing Seth to have a running game.

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HEIKO

Cool story, Hansel.

bilde[1]PICK: Craig Roh, DE, Michigan

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I complete my collection of defensive ends with the selection of Craig Roh. At Michigan, Roh is making his final move to his natural position as a strong side defensive end. He's the highest rated B1G player at this position left on the board, so I thought I'd take him before someone else forces me to convert Cameron Meredith to an SDE. Roh is pretty enormous these days. His 6'5 frame carries 281 lbs of running back-crushing muscle and should hold up well to double teams. Last season he struggled with the pass rush (because he's a little on the slow side), but had 8 TFLs and 4 sacks nonetheless.

Opponents' runs to the weak side of Michigan's line always seemed to stop a yard or two behind the line of scrimmage due to Roh's ability to shed blocks in time to give ball carriers a big bear hug. Though his production at Michigan has been muted by GERG and various identity crises, I think he'll finally realize his potential in 2012. The NFL concurs.

SNORK: No, this is not the sexy pick I promised earlier (although Craig Roh's eyebrows are pretty sexy). Also, centers are boring, just like Aceconsin is boring. Have you like totally given up, man? Do you want one of my quarterbacks? I'll trade you Gardner for ... I don't know. Your players don't fit my system. Sorry.

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BRIAN

7_456079[1]PICKS: Chris McDonald, OL, Michigan State, and Jack Mewhort, OL, Ohio State

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: MANBALL!

Also, I've solved my quarterback issues. No longer will Scheelhaase be known as "quarterback." Instead, I'm inventing a new position: guy-who-gets-the-snap-first-and-is-one-of-many-runny-type-guys. I'll work on the name.

Anyway, Jack Mewhort was a starter for Ohio State last year, flipping between both guard spots, and is now slated to be OSU's starting left tackle. Since Taylor Lewan isn't about to give that up around these parts, I'll slide him to right tackle, where his 6'6", 310 pounds will be used to grade roads. I mean, look at this guy:

7918590[1]

QED. Biff Tanner. I just drafted Biff Tanner. This year he'll even get coached!

[SETH INTERJECTION: Biff TanneN! How did you get in my generation anyway? Are you like some Bieber-loving Millenial on stilts with a fake goatee or something?]

bilde[1]Slightly inside Biff I'll put McDonald, the one thing about last year's MSU line that was not makeshift. He's entering his third year as a starter, was honorable mention All Big Ten last year, is on just about everyone's first-team All Big Ten this year, and seems to be a draftable guy, which is pretty good for a guard. Mike Martin put up a –1 in last year's UFR because of McDonald hammering him lots, which… yeah, I'll take that guy.

Scheelhaase is going to be just fine since 100% of his passes will be off play action to Abbrederis.

EVIDENTLY REQUIRED SNARK ABOUT PREVIOUS PICKS: Wait wait wait, we're talking smack about Scheelhaase when Braxton Miller completed 54% of his passes last year? And Heiko followed that up by drafting 60 wide receivers? Also note that I am not adding players from, you know, Indiana.

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NEXT UP ON DRAFTOSNARK:

HEIKO drafts a quarterback to be his backup punter, ACE finally admits that he's the unholy love child of Dantonio and Bielema, SETH falls asleep happily, secure in his Kovacs-assured lack of long touchdowns allowed, and BRIAN continues patching the Scheelhaase hole in his levee. Not like that, pervs.