"Such is the training that football, played by eleven gentlemanly fellows with eleven other gentlemanly fellows, gives to the one who enters its lists."
AAGO update. A clarification from the AAGO on the Wisconsin game:
Park-n-party pre-paid passes have been rescinded. This is preemptive to allow people to make alternative plans. We will take in our season pass holders if possible. That decision will be made Wednesday or Thursday. We did sustain significant damage and the course is still too wet to repair.
1902 – Chicago (Marshall Field) – U-M 6, Wisconsin 0. In a massive game held in the Windy City, trains full of fans from Madison and Ann Arbor descended on Chicago to be there. According to John Kryk’s epicStagg vs. Yost, both schools agreed to construct temporary stands to meet the demand for a few hundred additional fans. Unfortunately it seems many more than could fit hopped aboard the stands…and it got ugly. Again, Kryk:
In the middle of the first half, timbers in the grandstand suddenly began to creak–then snapped. The whole stand swayed to the north then collapsed, dropping hundreds. Incredibly, no one was killed and only a few were seriously injured.
The game was interrupted for fifteen minutes as stunned, scared, and some bloodied spectators flooded onto the northeast corner of the playing field to escape the woodpile wreckage.
A lighter note: during the hysteria following the collapse, with the guards distracted while tending to the mess, hundreds of ticketless fans rushed in to the field to grab of a view of this huge game.
And no, things never change as a big legal mess ensued between Wisconsin, Michigan and even Chicago (whose Marshall Field was used to stage the big game), with fingers pointing in all directions.
I love that the damn stadium collapsed and the delay was 15 minutes, or half of the current wait when there's a thunderbolt in the area. Let's go! It's 1902, we're all dying in the near future!
[After THE JUMP: a worse crime against football than the above]
>If this was the case why did he allow Bush to continue to stay on the field
This is a valid question. The player should not have been allowed to participate in the next down. Unfortunately some guys have been letting players fix the issue and stay in rather than enforcing the rule as written.
>not throw a penalty flag?
This is not a foul, so we don’t throw a flag for it. He just has to leave.
>It also still seems improper to be telling a player to get off the field as the ball is being snapped.
Officials said the same thing before the season, but we’re told this isn’t what the rule makers wanted.
Also, the theorized equipment issue—uncovered knees—doesn't seem to be actually there. Immediately after the play:
The umpire then comes over, says something to him. Bush continues playing, apparently not adjusting anything. I can't say I've seen anything like that before.
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.
Recruiting rankings matter, and also have a systemic bias. NFL players versus blue chip recruits, mapped:
Blue states have more NFL players than blue chip recruits; red states have fewer. That's part of a thorough Football Study Hall article on recruiting rankings and the draft, and is about as conclusive as possible that the recruiting industry is systematically underrating the Midwest and overrating the south. The south does have more players—only an idiot would dispute that—but the gap isn't as big as the rankings suggest.
UPDATE: Related event:
Stumbled across Saquon Barkley's high school highlights. This punt return is insane (and maybe give a few of his blockers a look as UDFAs!) pic.twitter.com/GRXFBQoHCX
PARIS — Less than 10 miles from the Michigan football team’s palatial hotel in the heart of Paris sits Stade Olympique de Colombes, the host of the 1924 Olympic Games.
The old stadium, now 111 years old, is rickety and considerably smaller than its heyday when it entertained the world’s best athletes. Inside the concrete walls, DeHart Hubbard, one of the University of Michigan’s greatest sportsmen, became the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, with a leap of 24 feet, 5 inches in the long jump on his sixth and final jump with a bruised heel.
“When I was a student, I came in 1976, and I looked at the school records because I was a long jumper, and that’s when I found out the first notion of who he was,” said James Henry, now the co-head coach of the UM women’s track and field team. “Then I found out he was the first African-American Olympic gold medalist. I was enthralled by him. He was my role model.
“He was at the University of Michigan at a time in which blacks couldn't do very much anywhere. I just felt that if this man can make it, I can make it. Making a name for myself by beating his records meant everything to me. That was my drive as a student-athlete to participate at a high level.”
Much more at the link. Now Rowland can file that expense report with a clear conscience.
Paging Mitch Leidner to the Department of Inexplicably Overrated Big Ten Quarterbacks. One mock draft was a hilarious oversight by an overworked intern. Two was worrisome. But now that it appears the NFL draft people are unanimous in asserting this person is a first round pick…
The Pick: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern
The New York Giants passed on the chance to draft a quarterback of the future with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, but is that a decision they'll regret? Or will fourth-rounder Kyle Lauletta be the answer?
If after a season of watching Lauletta and 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb, the Giants feel like the long-term answer at starter isn't on the roster, the team could be in good shape to draft a quarterback in 2019. Northwestern's Clayton Thorson nearly declared for this year's draft before surveying the deep group of passers and deciding to return to school. He has the arm, accuracy and intangibles to be considered a first-rounder one year from now.
…it's time to lay very still and sweat profusely, hoping this is a crazy dream.
Clayton Thorson! Sir, I have seen an unstoppable throw-god in purple. You, sir, are no Trevor Siemian. Thorson averaged 6.6 YPA with a 15-12 TD-INT ratio last year. But he's 6'4" and superficially looks like an NFL quarterback, so on the list he goes.
Meanwhile, Michigan prospects for 2019. Only two Wolverines show up on Athlon's top 50: #2 Rashan Gary and #22 Shea Patterson. Zach Shaw rounded up all the Way Too Early Mock Drafts and those two are the only guys on any of them. This is odd to me since Michigan's cornerback duo was probably the best in the country, at least in terms of passer rating allowed. You'd think one of the two would be a consideration for the end of the first round.
The director of an amateur Massachusetts basketball team affiliated with Adidas AG agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors investigating an NCAA bribery scandal, according to a copy of the agreement made public Friday.
Thomas "T.J." Gassnola entered the plea on March 30 to federal charges that he made payments to families of high school student-athletes in exchange for their commitment to play for certain universities, according to the filing.
NC State seems to be the main school linked with Gassnola, but, uh… Notre Dame(!) is an Adidas[correction: they switched to UA] school that just picked up two players from Gassnola's AAU team. I will give the FBI one dollar if they sweep the Irish into this. Think of the ND Nation takes.
Wilde take. Quinn Hughes is #5 on this NHL mock draft. Bode Wilde is #17:
17. New Jersey Devils: Bode Wilde, D, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
There are few prospects in this draft who can provide GMs with a skill set as tantalizing as Wilde’s. The big, mobile defender was a minute muncher for a deep NTDP blue line and his explosive first step is drool inducing. You don’t find many 6-2 defensemen with dynamic speed and a blistering shot, which is why GM Ray Shero should add this thoroughbred to his already-dangerous Devils’ attack
He'll be an acid test for the new staff's ability to mold guys, because he's a boom or bust guy on the NHL level because of his tendency to get out of position and cede odd man rushes.
This is actually the Milk Cup, a trophy for the best Michigan team in the NPSL that is somehow not sponsored by Jim Harbaugh. AFC went 12-1-1 to capture the top seed in the Midwest playoffs and will attempt to make the NPSL Final Four next weekend.
He's suing and trying to get a class of OSU athletes certified to take this wider. The mindblowing thing is that this only comes after eight months of negotiations broke down:
Spielman told Dispatch reporter Bill Rabinowitz that it pains him to sue Ohio State, but “players have a right. If somebody wanted to endorse you, don’t you think you have a right to say yes or no, or to negotiate?”
Yes, I do. Apparently, so does Griffin, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner and former president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association who supports Spielman’s efforts to gain recompense from universities and corporations that benefit from the use of players’ names and likenesses.
Ohio State takes a different tack, which explains why negotiations between Spielman’s attorney, Brian K. Duncan, and the university dragged over the past eight months without any compensatory agreement being reached.
Never forget that Gene Smith is the dim bulb who chose to go to the Gator Bowl instead of not taking a bowl ban for Urban Meyer's first year. OSU's athletic department sounds like a very Brandon place:
“It’s not the money part of it so much, but (Ohio State’s) attitude toward how they run their operation — with an iron fist, and they smash anyone they can,” Stillwagon said. “But then when you come at them, they say it’s all about giving scholarships. I’ve had dealings with that (OSU) marketing group and they’re abusive.”
Stillwagon loves Ohio State. He and his Buckeyes brethren simply want OSU to love them back by spreading the wealth.
“This (licensing compensation) is just a correction that needs to be done. This is the way it is now,” Stillwagon said. “Coaching is about money. Where you get to sit in the stadium is all about money. But they don’t want to talk about that. Funny, it’s against the mother nation, you know?”
You'd think this should be a slam dunk given the outcome of the Ed O'Bannon case. SI legal guy Michael McCann points out that this is in a different circuit—6th instead of 9th—and that an outcome that conflicts with the O'Bannon precedent would give the Supreme Court a much better chance of reviewing the case.
What Michigan should do. Michigan Licensing, Inc. Avoid these lawsuits and give everyone graduating from the program a healthy chunk of change. It's like bagmen, except explicitly endorsed by the US government?
Rutger can be good. Not that Rutger, Rutger Reitmaier. Michigan pursued Reitmaier pretty hard late in last year's recruiting cycle but he decided to stick it out with Oregon despite a coaching change. That did not last:
Michigan was expected to be his pick for a minute there because his family was gung-ho about Harbaugh; Sam Webb says Michigan will kick the tires but a longstanding relationship with Brady Hoke will probably point him to Tennessee. Michigan does have the room after Corey Malone-Hatcher's retirement, and the DL they brought in are flexible enough to make it work.
Basketball scheduling items. Michigan draws LSU in the first round of the Maui Invitational. LSU was horrendous last year, going 10-21 and finishing 172nd in Kenpom. They should be better since they'll return everyone they don't run off and add a decent recruiting class featuring top-50 PG Tremont Waters; Michigan should still expect to beat them easily. LSU was 327th in eFG defense a year ago. Beilein will carve them up.
It would greatly behoove Michigan not to lose that game because Chaminade almost certainly awaits the LSU-Michigan loser. Notre Dame, a 26-10 ACC team that got a 5 seed last year and potential good win, is the alternative. Other than Maui, games against UNC, UCLA, and Texas round out the meaningful bits of the schedule.
North Florida (#255 Kenpom, #221 RPI last year), CMU (#229/218), and Southern Miss (#325/331) are the first three games after the D-II exhibition against Grant Valley.
No similar excuses for UC Riverside (#311/330), Alabama A&M (#351/351), and Jacksonville (#275/305). Alabama A&M was 2-27 last year and dead last in Kenpom.
A game against Detroit (#302/289) at New Joe Louis that is vaguely more acceptable than the other six because it's a local thing.
When you're looking at some other Big Ten team's resume and wondering how in the hell they got a better seed than Michigan, those seven games against awful, awful competition are going to be why. This nonconference schedule has a lot of games that are going to be very hard to win and zero easy wins against decent lower level teams except maybe CMU, which is losing their entire O. I give up.
Meanwhile in Big Ten scheduling, this is one of those years when Michigan plays MSU and Wisconsin just once because Rutgers exists. Thanks, Jim Delany.
Okay then. Andrew Dakich is transferring to Ohio State because they have nine scholarship players, just three of them guards. I do not think this one is likely to lead to a Big Ten championship, as the Max Bielfeldt and Spike Albrecht transfers did for Indiana and Purdue.
On redshirts. I don't know if this is a recent change or if it has always been this way, but the medical redshirt operating parameters I've been working with are incorrect. I've been under the impression that if you play at all after game #4 you are ineligible. That is in fact not the case:
The injury must occur prior to the start of the second half of the season.
The student-athlete must not have competed in more than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever is greater.
(FWIW, I looked this up in the NCAA's bylaw search engine to confirm. I am an exciting person with many rewarding pastimes.)
The NCAA rounds up if 30% of the season is not an integer, so as long as games played < 5 and latest game played < 7, you are eligible. For Michigan that means guys who played in four or fewer games and did not participate after Rutgers can get a year of eligibility back if there is sufficient medical documentation. I believe Michigan has assembled such documentation.
Classification of freshmen follows.
Did not play: Brandon Peters, Kareem Walker, Stephen Spanellis, Ron Johnson, Quinn Nordin.
Eligible for hardship year: Kingston Davis, Nick Eubanks, Sean McKeon, Carlo Kemp, Mike Dwumfour, Josh Uche, David Long.
Definitely sophomores: Chris Evans, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Devin Asiasi, Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu, Rashan Gary, Devin Gil, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus.
If the guys eligible for hardships get them that dials back the Great Halifax Redshirt Fire Of 2016 a great deal. The only burned redshirts that look wasteful in that case are Nate Johnson (who played just three games, but one was Nebraska) and maybe the two linebackers. Everyone else was either an important contributor or clear heir apparent needed in 2017.
We've moved the hardship-eligible folks back to the freshman column on the depth chart by class.
Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.
This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.
Returning experience: nope! There was a spate of articles last offseason claiming that Michigan was low on returning experience; these were wrong because they believed the Michigan roster and its lack of announced redshirts. This year, though, I rather believe metrics like Bill Connelly's that declare Michigan to be #127 of 129 D-I teams in returning experience. Losing 9.5 defensive starters*, three OL, and your top three receivers tends to do that.
Other Big Ten teams way down the list: Iowa (#118), Nebraska (#122), and... yep, 3-9 Michigan State (#124). The most alarming aspect of last year's MSU outfit from the perspective of an MSU fan has to be the fact that they were not young at all.
Michigan doesn't play anyone particularly high up the list except Indiana, which just set their program on fire. It is notable that 2017 opponent Air Force—a charter member of the MGoBlog Never Schedule This Team list, thanks Dave—is dead last. Hopefully we don't get the bejeezus scared out of us again.
*[Mo Hurst was a starter in production if not actuality.]
It's been a while. Here's a Big Ten fight song medley from 1929. Chicago is included, and Michigan State is not, like God intended.
NFL scouting for various Michigan players. Many impressed. Jourdan Lewis:
Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.
Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.
2. DE - Chris Wormley, Michigan - An ideal blend of size (6-foot-5½, 297) and speed for an NFL defensive end in a 4-3 system, nobody displayed better and more consistent pass-rushing speed in Mobile this week than Wormley. He's quick off the snap, good at splitting double teams and can get to the quarterback.
8. ILB - Ben Gedeon, Michigan - Yes, there was a lot of Wolverine representation on the North Defense. Michigan didn't finish No. 1 in the nation in total defense for nothing. Gedeon (6'1 5/8" / 247) was a standout against the run in all three days of practice. He's strong and physical with good instincts. He struggled at times on his pass rush drills, but he may be best suited as a two down inside linebacker who goes to the sidelines in passing situations anyway.
Smith, who gained 846 yards on 181 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2016, has looked more elusive than he did in Ann Arbor. He also has proven he can catch. Add those traits to his blocking ability and his familiarity with pro-style protections after playing two seasons for Jim Harbaugh, and Smith suddenly looks like a mid-round pick a team can plug in immediately. And if the line in front of him is good enough, Smith could wind up on one of those lists.
Blue chip quarterbacks: many transfer. Dueling takes on the same subject on Signing Day eve from the Sporting News and Sports on Earth. The latter article is a just-the-facts-ma'am take on the recent history of blue-chip QBs:
It would be a mistake to call it an epidemic. Transfers have gone up in college football, and that's especially true at quarterback, where there are only so many starting positions available. The wave of transfers is often treated like a problem, but players switching schools to try to find a better opportunity for themselves is hardly an actual problem. (Coaches do it all the time.) The graduate transfer rule in particular has made transferring easier, as veteran players with degrees in hand can switch teams without sitting out a year.
The massive wave of transfers is undeniably a big story, even if it's overblown as a problem. While a lot of coaches and fan bases will be excited on Wednesday when blue-chip quarterbacks sign to play at their school, there's a good chance that those QBs won't actually finish their careers with the same team or deliver on the hype.
In fact, from 2007-13, more than half of four- and five-star quarterback recruits didn't finish their college career at the school they originally picked, whether it's because they transferred, were dismissed, switched to baseball or gave up playing football. (This does not include players who left early for the NFL Draft.) Likewise, just 44.1 percent of the 145 blue-chip quarterbacks signed from 2007-13 attempted at least 300 career passes for their original team.
"It's almost like a generational systematic issue where kids feel entitled and they feel like they should have the opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t realize that opportunity is earned. It's not given. That's kind of my issue with it. I don't know how you change it unless you change things at the levels below college."
As you might imagine, this caused some eyerolls in MGoSlack. There are two main reasons for the uptick in transfers: the grad transfer rule and the commercialization of the sport.
The first one should be obvious: a redshirt senior who would otherwise be out of luck can now transfer, degree in hand, to another school where he'll get a shot. Shane Morris counts as a departure; ten years ago he would have not been offered a fifth year by Michigan and would be done with college football.
The second is a little more winding, but when you've spent the last 20 years doing literally everything you can to maximize revenue with no other concerns do you really expect platitudes about loyalty to mean much? Recruits are told it's a business now, and, I mean, does it or does it not act exactly like a business? It does. And you'd be dumb to have loyalty to most businesses.
Meanwhile I wonder how many of those Bama transfers even had the option to return this season. One, certainly. Saban no doubt prefers a veteran option if Hurts gets injured. Three? No. The NCAA's overall cap on scholarships encourages movement. It's not a damn millennials thing, and it's certainly not a problem with high schools and parents. Move to a yearly cap with no overall cap and transfers go down immensely because there's no motivation for schools to prune kids who aren't panning out.
To blame the players, who are doing the things the system either tells them to or literally forces them to, is high grade paternalist bullshit. I love the smell of NCAA in the morning.
One of these teams will leave with a Big Ten win and The Situation. Noon. Probably on television. Check BeIN Sports 2. No? Does QVC have an overflow channel? Well, I'm sure you'll find it. They televise everything these days. I saw Magic: The Gathering once.
EAST LANSING — East Lansing has determined what it says Michigan State University is costing city residents.
Right down to the vomit removal.
Fire department calls, police overtime and downtown cleanup after student nightlife are among the issues that cost the city about $3.75 million last year, according to a recent study paid for by the city.
I say just leave the vomit—it's not like anyone can tell that you cleaned it up. And the RCMB agrees!
I remember back in the late 80s when I transferred to MSU. I went to WMU for a year and then transferred. K'zoo was a complete dump. Nothing to do. Other than Lafayette Square, it wasn't happening. I couldn't wait to leave K'zoo and I also couldn't wait to leave GR after the summer was over to get back to East Lansing for the fall terms to begin. Now? K'zoo and GR are so much better than East Lansing. And even they aren't the greatest. But it tells you just how far East Lansing has fallen.
I moved back to Lansing from 2009 to 2013. I could not wait to move away from there again in 2013. It was a mistake to move back to Lansing. Lansing is dismal but almost better than East Lansing now. East Lansing is a complete shell of itself. Just terrible. It lacked any of the vitality it once held. It was is of depressing to see.
That's part of a wildly entertaining five-page thread full of Spartans dumping venom on East Lansing's taxes, generic chain restaurants, city leadership, vacant storefronts, and DUI conviction rate. (That latter might not be East Lansing's fault, guys.) Highly recommended. The Spartans' profession appears to be self-owning.
Everybody at Michigan. (laughs) I’ll tell you what, Harbaugh, he just brings out the best in all his players. Shoot, every one of those guys has elevated their draft stock.
Amara Darboh, Mason Cole, Channing Stribling, Jabrill Peppers, Ben Gedeon, Delano Hill, De'Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, and Jake Butt all come in for praise. I'm slightly dubious about Cole's NFL potential given the struggles he's had against 3-4 nose tackles this year but hey man whatever. Michigan is set to have a dozen guys drafted, and you'd better believe that'll perk up recruits' ears. That goes double when scouts are praising Harbaugh's development as the direct cause of said draftees.
Best part of this: no Maurice Hurst. Let's keep that on the low for another year, yes please.
The Wolverines' beefy, pro-style offense snapped the ball 34 times in the first half and averaged 11.8 yards per play. They did it with a litany of creative wrinkles cloaked in the feel-good nostalgia of two-tight end sets and fullback dives. They are like a phonograph that can stream your iTunes through Bluetooth.
Stodgy is what Michigan will see this weekend in Iowa City. Michigan's got a new thing every week.
Don Brown, football dude. This is a week old but I must have missed it. The WaPo on Don Brown:
Yes, Brown and Michigan: “It’s a perfect place for him,” said Compton, whose father was Brown’s high school coach and Brown’s wife’s high school biology teacher. “He looks good in the colors. It’s perfect. Perfect! He likes that weather. It’s a natural fit for him.”
In that passage lies another thing about Brown, 61: Three former players go beyond the normal, fond recollections of former players. They effuse, and say old teammates do likewise. Somehow, this seems like big toughness mixed with big, big love. ...
Ihedigbo said: “That demeanor. That presence. He truly cares about you. It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re in it together. It’s not just trying to get the most out of you.”
Michigan has exceeded even the towering expectations placed on them by optimistic folks (hi!) preseason, and looks set for a showdown against Ohio State that could change the shape of the Big Ten for years to come. Still cannot get over what a great hire Brown was.
In the 1970’s, Bo would talk on the phone with Hanlon who was upstairs in the press box. After asking, “What do you want, Jerry?” Bo sent in the plays with offensive guards that rotated in and out of the game. It looked and sounded like this:
In the 1980’s, rotating wide receivers became the method of communication. The clip below can be summed up thusly, “Oh geez, Mo, let me handle this! AC, you tell Wangs to throw you the damn ball! Now THAT is how you do it, Gary!”
After a few delay of game penalties in critical situations, a change needed to be made.
Rotating guards bringing the playcall in! That is absolutely insane from a modern perspective. Also don't miss the Bo smirk at the end of the first video. Probably thinking about this going down in the huddle:
BRANDSTATTER: and he says to get your ass in there RB: what? BRANDSTATTER: CUT IT IN, he says RB: in what BRANDSTATTER: man... just get your ass in there RB: i will take this under advisement
We're having a pre-Wisconsin event with Marlin Jackson at 1300 South Main Street. Festivities start at ten; I'll be there by noon. Proceeds benefit Jackson's excellent Fight For Life charity; you can park in the shadow of the Big House and partake for $56 or walk on over; there's a suggested donation of ten bucks. We'll have a raffle, a Q&A session with Marlin, and food provided by Tailgater Concierge and drink from Wolverine Brewing. Come on by, support a great cause, and ask Ace about Harambe!
Clark: ACL, gone. Fears confirmed, but Harbaugh did tell the assembled media they'd try to get Clark a sixth year. I'm going to be real peeved if he doesn't get one given the Ed Davis precedent.
WILTON SPEIGHT gives you WHITEST LOPING MIKE McCRAY gets you MY, I CRACK EM CHRIS WORMLEY gets you CHOWS MERRILY BEN BREDESON gets you BONES BENDER
This should be a category in not very serious game previews.
What happened in that Wisconsin-MSU game. It was a slugfest with both offenses barely cresting 300 yards. Wisconsin got the blowout because Tyler O'Conner was intercepted three times, LJ Scott fumbled for a Wisconsin scoop and score, and MSU's punter dropped a snap. In the aftermath the SB Nation MSU blog appears to have quit en masse. Gotta toughen up there, Sparty.
This was certainly not a game that required a vintage quarterback performance to come away with the win. All the Badgers really needed were a handful of third-down conversions and Hornibrook did just that. His fumble early in the game could have been a costlier mistake although the interception before the end of the half was more of a last-ditch effort than anything else.
I thought he looked good through the first quarter and a half. I haven't seen the rest of the game yet, so maybe he fell off.
On defense, the main takeaway was that Wisconsin's linebackers kick ass. Four of their top five grades were LBs and almost all of them cracked the 80 grade that appears to be the cutoff for a really good performance. Vince Biegel had ten(!) QB hurries.
On the MSU side of things, Tyler O'Connor was horrendous (52.3 grade) and their offense failed to have anyone crack 80—Brian Allen was the only guy even close. The OL allowed presser on O'Connor on more of half their snaps, largely on failed blitz pickups. (Why, hello Mr. Peppers.) The defense was about on par with expectations except that Darian Hicks was good. They've got a guy with a big blinking THROW AT ME sign, though:
If you’re looking to point the finger at anyone on the Spartans defense, it would be safety Demetrious Cox. He allowed 7-8 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Can't say I'm surprised.
Michigan has a tough assignment on offense this week, but I'd expect they hold the Badger offense in check.
A spate of injuries. Bad week for season-enders in the league. Michigan has of course lost Clark. Several other important players also went down for extended periods of time:
Janarion Grant, also known as "the Rutgers offense" is out for the year after injuring his ankle at the tail end of a 76-yard run. Rutgers also lost DE Quanzell Lambert.
Iowa wide receiver Matt Vandeberg, who currently has more catches than the rest of Iowa's WRs combined, injured his foot and is out 'indefinitely.' Per Tom Kakert, it's a broken foot that will end his year.
MSU linebacker Riley Bullough kept up the family tradition by missing a game for mysterious reasons against Wisconsin. Reports have it that he was injured in practice before Notre Dame and will return sometime this season. Fellow LB Jon Reschke did something to his left leg in a non-contact situation and is out for a "significant amount of time" with what MSU is describing as an ankle sprain despite it not looking at all like an ankle sprain. Ed Davis is still being held out, probably in hopes he can get a seventh year.
Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed the MSU game with a back issue and may or may not be back this weekend. Paul Chryst has "no idea." Ditto OL Jon Dietzen. Gaglianone's replacement, Andrew Endicott, missed an extra point but hit a 41-yard field goal. Wisconsin played much of the MSU game as if they had little confidence in him.
Exit Les Miles. Over the past five or six years if Les Miles's name has come up on this blog it's because I'm attempting to convince people we really did not want him to be Michigan's head coach. That doesn't mean college football isn't poorer for his absence now that he's been fired. He was perfect at LSU, where he could cause the internet to devolve into a string of exclamation points without affecting my blood pressure. Keep that dour offense and the Mardi Gras surrounding it down in the Bayou. Miles was fun, and fun in a way that it seems like only college football can support.
1. Les Miles was fired from his job as LSU football coach this weekend. Getting fired four games into a season would only seem premature if time ever mattered to Miles, but it rarely did. Miles ran out of time, added time to games, forced others to work against it, and sometimes just melted the clock completely.
A one-score LSU game in the last three minutes could accelerate from full-on torpor to electric insanity, mostly because of his belief that a football game can sometimes be a little longer than 60 minutes if he needed it to be. You called people, tweeted at them, and yelled in all-caps when LSU ran shit down to the wire.
Miles at the wheel meant you were guaranteed 58 minutes of reliable, red-meat, Big Ten football. It also meant you got two minutes of off-the-rails Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride banditry that LSU might or might not survive.
Someone please hit Mack Brown with a shovel and insert Miles into his place posthaste.
Never hire an NFL coordinator. In the aftermath of the Lexit, Bill Connelly strikes upon a theme in a spate of recently-fired coaches on the successful end of the spectrum: awful coordinator hires. The beginning of the end for Les was importing Cam Cameron. Cameron was actually a successful NFL coordinator...
In 10 seasons as an NFL coordinator, Cameron's offenses had only once finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive DVOA.
...but his college offenses were 1990s-vintage NFL ones and increasingly horrendous. Mark Richt got the axe much faster after importing Brian Schottenheimer, who wasn't only an NFL coach but an NFL nepotism special. Brian Kelly isn't out at Notre Dame but his seat his quite hot after hiring Brian Van Gorder in the aftermath of Bob Diaco's departure for UConn.
Of the 40 coordinators with recent top-10 offenses, only nine had any experience at the NFL level. Only four of 40 had been in the pros for more than three years. Two of these four (Pep Hamilton, Mike Bloomgren) were hired by Stanford, so I guess the corollary should be: “Don’t worry about NFL experience ... unless you’re David Shaw.”
On the defensive side, the percentages are similar. Of the 34 coordinators with recent top-10 defenses, only eight had NFL experience, and only four had more than three years in the NFL: Vance Bedford (2014 Texas, six years), Dan Quinn (2012 Florida, 10 years), Todd Grantham (2011 Georgia, 11 years), and Clancy Pendergast (2013 USC, 15 years).
I'd like to point out that when Bedford and Quinn had their top ten defenses they were working under head coaches (Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp) who were massively successful college defensive coordinators. The list of longtime NFL coaches able to do anything in college is extremely thin.
This is why I was panicked during the defensive coordinator search when Rivals kept bringing up NFL names, and super enthusiastic when Harbaugh passed up that trap for Don Brown.
The Michigan offense has been good enough in the early going. The Wolverines are finishing drives and converting short-yardage opportunities, controlling the ball and the field position battle despite only decent efficiency.
But the defense has been the driving force. New coordinator Don Brown's unit ranks first in havoc rate and second in Def. S&P+, and Peppers has been the catalyst for such successful aggressiveness.
He was a Harvard graduate with a reputation around the office as someone who set the bar high and usually managed to clear it. He was two years into a promising career, surrounded by friends and as healthy as he had been in a long time. But Hirsch woke up restless that morning.
"So I went for a walk," he says, "and I realized that I needed something else going on in my life outside of work. Work was great, but I was lacking a major goal."
This shouldn’t be happening. To understand why we have to go back to the rules of football.
Ends and Backs
Football evolved from a rugby-like game, with forward passing added almost a generation later. The running sport and the passing sport never perfectly coalesced into one—even today there are offenses that treat their quarterback as a primary rusher or primarily a passer. You can also trace the problem of linemen blocking downfield on passing plays back to this awkward marriage of two games. So they had to make rules: You can block here but not there. The rule that matters to us is this guy is an eligible receiver and that guy isn’t.
[After THE JUMP: What’s a legal formation, why teams do this, and a jazzy snazzy video]
Mr. Turnley said he was granted unprecedented access to the team: He went into locker rooms, he was present at workouts, practices, drills, and he attended every game, including on the road, all so he could capture images unlike those expected of sports and football photography.
“I’m not standing on the sideline,” said Mr. Turnley, who did not use long lenses. “I’m literally in the scrimmages. I’ve been known to be in the huddles and to lay prone in the middle of a play, because I want you to understand and feel what that’s like to be in the midst of that struggle.”
During practice, I imagine? I don't remember a photographer laying down under Graham Glasgow last year. I think I would have picked up on that.
Injuries both ways. Harbaugh said he was "very hopeful" Jourdan Lewis would return this weekend. He did dress against Colorado, so he must have been available in some capacity if there was an emergency. Taco Charlton seems to be dropping hints that he's good to go this weekend as well:
Mone is expected to be out this week with a possible return either next week or the week after. Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson is exploring the possibility of a sixth year, which necessarily implies we won't see him in 2015. Three weeks in that's a relatively clean bill of health.
Unfortunately for Penn State but encouragingly for people who can add two and two together about Joe Paterno and the kind of people who would honor him, the Nittany Lions cannot say the same thing. Starting linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda missed the Temple game. Nyeem Wartman-White left the game with an apparent knee injury and was spotted in a large brace afterwards. PSU just announced he's done for the year, for the second consecutive year.
WR Saeed Blacknall, CB Grant Haley, and DE Evan Schwan also missed the Temple game; as per usual there's no timetable for any of these guys to return. The only guy certainly out is Wartman-White; I wouldn't be surprised if PSU only gets one or two guys back.
Saquon Barkley also left for a period of time, but… uh…
Worst third down vs. Best third down Penn State's the worst third down team in the Big Ten -- again. After converting just 27 percent of their third downs in 2015, the Nittany Lions have converted -- wait for it -- 27 percent of their third downs so far in 2016. Penn State wants to play with tempo, but it has trouble staying on the field -- as the Nittany Lions are averaging just 4.4 plays per possession. And that's not because they're hitting big plays, as each possession is netting an average of about 26 yards per drive.
Meanwhile, Michigan's defensive is No. 1 nationally on third down. The Wolverines have allowed opponents to convert just 10.5 percent of their third down attempts (4 of 38). Opponents are facing an average of 3rd and 9 against Michigan so far this season, which is rather difficult time and time again.
PSU's OL is just as much of a mess as it was last year, so expect a lot of players in the opposition backfield.
Idiot, diagnose thyself. If you're not aware of David Jones, think Central Pennsylvania's Drew Sharp. He wrote some standard-issue newspaper yammer about Harbaugh. It boils down do "this is just, like, my opinion, man," but holy crap this is some noteworthy lack of self-awareness:
The Wolverines will not win the Big Ten title while Harbaugh is coaching at Michigan. I don't even think they'll win the division.
How can I be so sure? I can't. In a world where being noticed is trumped only by the blatant seeking of full-on notoriety, you can never count out a guy who does it as well as Sharkface.
Jones is a professional troll, and yet. Also that sentence is a disaster barely worthy of a college freshman cramming a ten-page paper the night before.
Jones's theory is that Harbaugh will make MSU and OSU work harder to defeat Michigan. Seriously. The man manages to cash checks, so you have to respect the hustle. Or lack thereof, in this case.
“It was a windy day, raining, a tough day to control the football and I was having a bad day; ended up falling flat on my face literally and figuratively,” he recalled. “Javier Arenas, from Alabama, was the returner and I shanked the ball a little bit inside, a 35-yard punt into the wind, and he catches it on the run and takes off to my left.
“I have him to the sideline, but one of my teammates is in pursuit as well and pushes me in the back. As Arenas steps out of bounds, my arms go out by my side, and from five feet up my head hits the turf hard. I drag my helmet into the rubber for about 3-4 yards. I looked like a rag doll.”
Mesko said he blacked out for “about two seconds” and couldn’t feel temperature the rest of the game. He never reported the concussion, in part because he didn’t want it to affect his NFL chances, despite experiencing headaches that night and the next morning.
Momentarily blacking out and then returning to a world without temperature must have been terrifying, and Mesko kept his issue a secret because of the prevailing culture at the time. Reminder: Zoltan Mesko is a punter, who mainly enters a football field to do something opponents are prohibited by rule from hitting during. And yet.
Mesko, now retired, has a startup that's trying to mitigate head impacts:
What Mesko and Rizzo came up with is an impact reduction device they call the EXO1 (it is patent pending). Their project now has a team of six Harvard MBA, medical and law students working on it in the form of a company called Impact Labs.
Good luck to him.
Hockey recruits ranked. ISS offers up a top 30 of incoming college hockey players. Michigan lands four on the list: #6 Luke Martin(D), #19 Nick Pastujov(F), #25 Jack LaFontaine(G), and #29 Will Lockwood(F). That's good, and the best haul in the Big Ten, but rather pales next to BU's ridiculous class featuring three of the top four and two more further down the list.
"It's a little bit easier in the slide technique," said Stribling. "You open up, and since you are going back into coverage at an angle, your (belt) buckle is to the ball, and so you see the whole play develop. It's a great technique, and if you go back to a back pedal, that's easier. But we don't back pedal any more.
"The advantages are that if somebody runs a go route, you're already opened up to the quarterback. If somebody breaks down for a curl, you're already open."
Adjustments to receiver routes can be made quicker if the technique is done right.
"You have to make sure your feet are right," said Stribling. "You have to make sure you are low to the ground and not too high."
That article features some detail on Lewis's injury issues as well:
"He probably worked a little too hard in the summer," said Zordich. "That was probably a little too much torque on his body. Some of the issues he's had in the last couple weeks might have come from that. He had a hell of a camp, but then his back started tightening up and affected his hamstring and quad. He's fighting through these things."