Michigan offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Erik Gunderson brought home a pet pig yesterday, which is awesome and very much constitutes news in the dead of the college football offseason. It is apparently quite the accomplished pig, as they gave it the moniker "Dr. Hamlet III"—don't ask what happened to the first two, that's confidential information held only by Brady Hoke and his most trusted butcher.
This is the perfect match of pet and owners—all offensive linemen should be required to own literal hogs, really—but while Dr. Hamlet III is a strong name indeed, we believe the pig could use one with a Michigan-related twist. Thanks to Twitter and some highly important intra-office chat sessions, here are a few suggestions:
I had assumed Lewan's departure was so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't even bother to hang around the computer last night when he announced and only found out once I flipped on the Nebraska game. Derpity-doo.
In any case, I don't have to tell you how huge his return is for Michigan next year. Without him, Michigan was replacing four starters on the OL with at least two freshmen. With him, they return two solid-to-All-American tackles and only have to find three new guys.
In addition, Lewan's return gives Michigan flexibility. Michael Schofield was a quality player at guard last year and could return there if necessary. That allows Michigan to let Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson compete for starting jobs. Team 134 now has to find three starters out of this group:
CENTERS: Jack Miller, Patrick Kugler GUARDS: Kyle Kalis, Chris Bryant, Kyle Bosch, Blake Bars, Joey Burzynski TACKLES: Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden
Even if you dismiss Burzynski as a walk-on—not necessarily wise—that is eight candidates for the three spots, seven of whom will compete in spring. The eighth, Kugler, is the son of Sean Kugler, until recently the Steelers' OL coach and now the head man at UTEP. If ever there is a guy who will be ready to play center as a freshman it'll be him.
Remove Lewan and you not only force Braden* in to the starting lineup ready or not, you likely remove Magnuson from the conversation. Moving guys around is a lot less possible when you've got one guy standing between you and walk-ons at tackle. Then you're trying to get someone out of Bosch/Bars/Burzynski/Bryant. That's doable, but Lewan is not only an All-American coming back but two extra bullets for the holes Michigan has to fill. High five.
The starting line above is four touted recruits and four kids who are entering at least their third year in the program. Behind them they'll have options in case they aren't working out. It's kind of a big deal.
In 1961 IBM Labs made the first computer talk. What it said was "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you! It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!"
My grandpa loved that song to the point he would be constantly finding socially acceptable excuses to show off he knew the verses. That this song has been trapped in my and every person in Ann Arbor's heads this week would tickle him to no end. This is your fault Taylor Lewan.
Twosie Mania struck Ann Arbor this week when Lewan parked his bicycle built for two in front of Lamda Lamda Lamda.* User morepete the Great kindly did the cropping and released the PhotoshopGiMPCracken. Taylor promptly appeared at Iwo Jima and Tiananmen Square, Gettysburg, and V-Day parades. He crossed the moon with E.T., crossed Abbey Road, served as centerpiece for a Michelangelo [some other ninja turtle's] masterpiece, and kindly shuttled Amira Gulch around Kansas. He's in ur Windows XP, playing as ur paperboy, and much much more. Then Chunkums put him in Punch Out and won the internet:
You have no idea how close this came to being front-paged twice, complete with music bars. Keep training, Denard: next up is Saban Popinski.
* I know it's Chi Psi, and that they don't like being called "Chipsy." They were the likeable-nerdy frat in my day and from the looks of the photo that hasn't changed.
How did Devin really do? My "football hmmm" series was partly inspired and in some part informed by Space Coyote's football fundamentals course offering from a few years ago. I was ready to wistfully mention him among the MCaliburs of yesteryear when suddenly a Spring Game Breakdown of Devin's pass plays appeared in the diaries. Sample? Sample.
DG’s footwork is pretty good here. It’s a 3 step drop and he gains depth with his first step. His next two steps are shorter and more compact to gather his body. His shoulder look good and his eyes are down field. He steps into the pocket, but seems to relax and doesn’t use his legs in his throw (even though he steps into it a little). This is why it looks like he is just playing catch in the back yard. The ball goes where his shoulders are pointing, and thus the result. Let’s break it down a bit further.
I'll have it front-paged sometime this week but you can read it now. Professor Space Coyote (of Space!) is your Diarist of the Week.
The icers you really really really missed. Maybe not to the degree of the program-redefining seniors of the 132nd football team, but there was something special about last year's hockey seniors, from Hagelin's flag to Louie's love expertise to Rust's checking, etc., even before a goddamn early whistle stole the national championship from them. Your hockey man CenterIce took the opportunity of the NHL playoffs to catch up with last year's seniors in their rookie seasons. Hagelin obviously has made his mark with the Rangers as another non-Gaborik Gaborik, most recently drawing a three-game suspension from confirmed Swede-hating Gary Bettman. Rust's AHL line doesn't do justice to the force he was on the ice for the Scranton Baby Pens a misnomered Columbus affiliate (ed-S: wow that was stupid). Love Expert Louie had a good season in the minors, two thirds of that in the ECHL. Scooter, Burlon, Langlais, Hogan, Winnett, Llewellyn, and even Fallon are found.
So the Michigan Marching Band was notified they would not be going to Dallas, because there's the barest justification for not doing so, and because no matter how much you're making, the quoted $400,000 or the actual $200,000 it would cost to fly to band down and bus them around and put them up in some halogenated Radisson in that soulless outlet mall of a city is a lot of money that could be flipped to profit if those seats are sold to alumni. MMB is pissed, fans are pissed, and the internet is all "Don't Stop Us Now!" Obligatory MMB pantomime of Queen:
To MMB: srsly, there are worse things in life than missing a chance to see a city whose top cultural attractions are "the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain" and SMU. If you guys can parlay the outrage into a deal to travel to ANY Big Ten town this year instead, my advice is to take it, unless you're really into investigating the Kennedy assassination and/or seeing what a city looks like if it was designed by the same people who came up with cubicles and think goal-oriented dolphins are inspiring.
Obviously Dave Brandon is one of those people. He probably thinks Dallas is awesome. Dallas thinks Dave Brandon is awesome. I think Michigan football is awesome so I can't boycott it on TV even if they come out in maize helmets and white pants and bumblebee jerseys, and I wasn't going to the game anyway. Giving your customers less for the same price is a tried and true business strategy, as is offsetting expenditures by cutting something else, in this case Borges's raise. We're in favor of paying coordinators SEC coordinator prices (though when you realize they could cover 10 more starting annual salaries or five really good jobs for the same cost it's a little jarring) and DB is in favor of running Michigan with business acumen. I guess what I'm saying is I can only criticize so much when I benefit from Michigan being flush with cash. It's galling, but it's part of the bargain that got us a stylish carriage instead of a twosie.
THE ALL-2000s TEAM
Archived from MGoBlue.com
Brian did something like this in 2010 but Wolverine Devoteetook the concept to a three-deep, which means you get to argue whether Zach Kaufman or Lawrence Reid gets that last LB spot instead of whether Brandon Graham or Woodley was the best DE. His has Mallett, Jerome Jackson, Carson Butler, Carl Tabb, Calvin Bell, Alex Mitchell, Pat Massey, Chris Graham, Scott McClintock, Markus Curry, Grant Mason and Jeremy LeSeuer, all of whom I'd drop in favor of Tate Forcier, Kevin Dudley, Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews, Martell Webb, Dave Pearson, Stevie Brown (as a SAM), Lawrence Reid, Donovan Warren, Troy Woolfolk, and Jamar Adams, respectively. I'd also lose Ron Bellamy to give me Adam Finley, who could kick or punt if either Rivas or Zoltan go down.
Guh, another head to head recruiting loss to MSU. When will it end? And don't give me any of that "It's because MSU is desperate enough to spend a scholarship on a long snapper" bullshit, we all know it's because Dantonio is a master recruiter.
Two threads on RCMB completely agree. Coming soon: a list of the top 30 recruits in Michigan in 2013 and how MSU has way more guys from that list than Michigan.
BURKE ACK. Everyone's on alert after Sam Webb—previously confident—walked that back significantly last night on the premium Scout board. Rivals almost immediately provided a positive counterpoint but I think we all know who's had the better information over the last year or so. Dylan has "strong rumors on both sides of the coin." I'm stocking my bomb shelter.
Burke should hear an official word from the NBA advisory committee in two days. I haven't heard any analyst say he's a first rounder and the strong rumor I got said Burke wouldn't leave unless that's where he was projected; if that's the case we could get an announcement of a return shortly after. Once that date passes April 29th is the deadline. The April 10th date is meaningless.
This is wasting time I could be using buying canned goods.
This is cultural relevance. Via Matt Norlander and Jerry Hinnen, a curiosity left behind in the Kentucky locker room in the aftermath of their national championship:
It was probably inevitable that the end result of the Fab Five is the apotheosis of the one-and-done. Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
I WATCHED ALL-STAR HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL AND SURVIVED. It was a near thing, but I made it. Over the weekend I took in Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III playing in separate games of the ESPN something something classic something, and wondered why I was doing it. I can tell you these things:
Mitch McGary is tall, but not as tall as some other guys.
Glenn Robinson III can dunk very well…
…but had a rough day at the free throw line.
I cannot tell you anything else. Robinson does look like an NBA athlete, so… yeah. UMHoops gathered highlights. Here's Robinson:
Click through for McGary, who didn't look as good of a prospect in a barely-organized meaningless quasi-scrimmage that even the announcers regularly talked trash about. Hurrah for information.
As far as next season goes, Robinson says he's currently putting in extra time on his 3-point shooting and his ball handling. He said the Michigan staff would like to use him as both a small forward and shooting guard next season, meaning he could be relied on to attack the rim off the dribble, distribute and score from deep.
…but I'm betting we see Michigan go with Robinson at the four for at least 15 minutes a game. That will depend on how Hardaway and Stauskas are playing and how comfortable Beilein is with a four who can't shoot threes.
Also a chic pick. Indiana is getting a lot of hype in everyone's way-too-early previews. Someone else getting hype: Michigan. Andy Katz:
The Wolverines will be in the top 10 if Trey Burke returns to school. He should. He would join freshman stud Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., and a loaded class that also includes ESPNU 100 recruits Glenn Robinson Jr., and Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines have had a few defections, and that has disrupted a bit of their flow. But John Beilein has figured out the Big Ten, so Michigan will once again be in the mix.
3. Michigan: Trey Burke is the big key here. If he stays in school, Michigan is loaded considering what it has back and the addition of players like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. If Burke leaves, I think Michigan slips a few notches here. Losing Douglass and Novak would be bigger if a guy like Burke doesn’t return.
CBS has Michigan #5. Yeesh. I know we're talking Big Expectations next year but a one-seed is not the peak of my personal expectations distribution.
Hakken asks Lewan where the coeds are going to sit, as he rides around with his friends. Tandem bikes are, after all, romantic.
“No girls are going to ride my twosie,” Lewan says, incredulously, and Hakken laughs again. He's never heard anyone call a tandem that before, but he chooses not to correct Lewan, who makes it clear he’s serious about buying the bike.
It's a story for the ages. In 2055 the most prestigious college football award will be the Taylor Lewan's Twosie, given to the best pair of starting tackles in the country.
Flufftasm. Not Michigan Replay is all "BCS Sugar Bowl champions but that's in the past," and MGoVideo has restored the rightful music that is right:
Reader Matt Stone points out that there's a (smoked) bubble screen around 8:52. Either way that's good—Michigan couldn't defend it at all last year, and never ran it in an effort to loosen up defenses.
Talking to Al. I watched about an hour of this at the Glazier Clinic I went to and could have happily done another four:
"He invited me into a room…"
"…the film room."
Ohhhh oh. Oh. Carry on. Michigan Replay should be an hour of this every week. Two.
Overcoming tragedy, he selected extra value meal #3. If Elliott Mealer does end up winning the left guard job, you can ink the inevitable Tom Rinaldi feature in double-underlined ink. I just wonder if he'd like to be Elliott Mealer at this point instead of Overcoming Tragedy Elliott Mealer. Example AA.com headline:
Elliott Mealer overcomes tragedy, becomes leading candidate for starting spot on Michigan's offensive line
Maybe Elliott Mealer wants to be Guy With Mountain Man Beard instead.
Meanwhile, Brock update:
He continues to work out with Barwis three times per week, commuting from Ohio to BarwisMethods in Plymouth, and can now take 23 steps without any kind of support -- canes included.
A weakness! A palpable weakness! Alabama is moving Australian JUCO transfer Jesse Williams from defensive end to nose tackle, where surely he'll be an exploitable liabilit—
Dammit. Why are we playing a team with an entire extra recruiting class to sift through again?
Etc.: If Derrick Nix misses one minute against a real opponent this year for getting arrested for pot I'll eat… well, I'll be surprised. Unless he's got a couple of secret strikes already this will blow over before fall.
M has acquired its Sugar Bowl bling. Point of order: Michigan fans aren't "misinterpreting" Advice Columnist Mark Hollis's Burke-directed tweet. We know it's harmless greeting-card advice. We are mocking Hollis for being a 12-year-old who likes Twilight.
Oh shiiiii… So yesterday I noted that Purdue starting quarterback Robert Marve had been knocked out for the year with a torn ACL, and suggested that Michigan was less likely to lose that game now. I was terribly, terribly wrong:
Robert Marve is no longer an option at quarterback. I would argue that his effectiveness was unfortunately limited to poor line play against Notre Dame, then he was banged up from the Western Illinois game on. That leaves Rob Henry as the presumptive starter. He is not the only option, however. Justin Siller has three starts at quarterback in his career. Could he be a better choice?
Purdue: Robert Henry, Purdue, Robert "Rob" Henry. Purdue: he is awesome and made of ninja stars and if you think about starting anyone else I will find the World's Most Medium-Sized Drum and blast it into the Pacific Ocean with a river of tears and this will not go well for anyone and I'll probably get very dehydrated. Just say no to Siller.
If I have to make a Hitler video that starts off with the guy pointing at the map and saying "Marve transferred from Miami and was entrenched as a starter and tore his ACL" and then Hitler saying "fine, fine, Robert "Rob" Henry is a redshirt freshman with only decent mobility, we'll be fine" and then the guy saying "Mein Brimley, Purdue has installed Justin Siller as their quarterback" and then the ensuing and ceremonial Losing Of The Shit, I totally will. And I won't like it.
He is the sun and the moon and the stars. Tom Brady/Lloyd Christmas fan. He hugged Denard. He showed up for Colin Cowherd. He's aquaman2342's avatar. People made gentle fun of his hair and compared him to the aforementioned dudes. I got like six billion emails from someone who must be his mother complaining about the gentle poking of fun. But we like him, don't we? He is everywhere, and he's always really happy about Michigan. His haircut is charmingly reminiscent of the guy who's (still, for now) the best Michigan quarterback of our lives.
He is so everywhere that I'm just innocently watching this RAWK-laden official site video of Michigan's top kick returns ever and BAM, I'm saying there's a chance at 2:02:
Lloyd Brady has been happy everywhere. It is at this point that he is photoshopped into historical situations that he's really happy about, like an inverted Stunned Aggie.
"During film, he was wearing sweatpants, a fedora and a sweatervest with no shirt on underneath," Van Bergen said at the press conference, rolling his eyes.
He's like an enormous Tressel who uses his power for mustaches and good. Q: there are Michigan players with twitter accounts. Why on earth did this not get a twitpic?
Financial what? So… whenever people talk about going to a nine game schedule they cite the financial considerations that make it difficult. Example:
"I know our fans want to see more Big Ten games," Delany told the Tribune. "Our TV partners want to see more Big Ten games. But if we can't finance our programs, it's not going to happen."
I'm not so convinced. Situations, assuming that PSL fees do not apply (reasonable since they don't change based on number of home games):
Home and home with real program. One game, 100k people, 50 bucks each = 5 million dollars. Two games against tomato cans. Two games, 200k people, 50 bucks each = 10 million dollars – 1.5 million for payouts = 8.5 million dollars.
That's 1.75 million per year, but it doesn't take into account the increased TV value of games against real teams, the increased attractiveness of season tickets when you have a real opponent in the nonconference (more relevant now that schools are charging close to what the market will bear and that seats are sometimes going unsold), and the various intangible wow factors that contribute to the bottom line. (In college, the bottom line is program prestige, wins, and losses, not money).
The problem has been that when Michigan schedules a killer nonconference game the money from TV goes to… the conference. Indiana makes just as much money from Michigan-ND as Michigan makes from Indiana-Towson. This severely reduces the incentive to schedule real opponents since you take all the risk of a loss and get zero gain relative to your conference-mates. But if you force the entire conference to add real games against each other and you own a network far more interested in televising Iowa-Wisconsin than four versions of Indiana-Towson, then the financial differences quickly tilt in favor of actual games. The bottom of the conference doesn't get to buy body-bag games, remember: IU just played at WKU.
I don't think financial considerations are going to be a major factor. It's close enough to a wash that a home/road imbalance and complaints from the IUs of the world about bowl eligibility will be more important.
Point Griese. Brian Griese was generic during the broadcast of the BGSU game but this is an interesting point that I've thought to myself but never though I'd hear an analyst drop:
“The ability to approach the line of scrimmage with the threat of running and (him) being able to throw those balls off-balance, that’s so hard on a defense,” Griese said. “Guys are wide open because of him.”
One of the many things that make Denard ridiculous is his ability to go from run to throw in no time flat. See the Roundtree touchdown against Notre Dame or the "Anything Tate Can Do I Can Do Better" improv in that same game. Accuracy from odd body angles makes his play action even more deadly than it would otherwise be.
Brabbs reminder. Chicagoans: Phil Brabbs is having a fundraiser this weekend for the Indiana game, which Michigan will DOMINATE. Offer still stands on the Brabbs shirts, BTW: buy one, get five bucks off a second shirt in the (now severely reduced) MGoStore.
Insane rootability UPDATE! This is quality except for hated non-journalist Melanie Collins(!) introing it:
(Note: last time Melanie Collins was referenced on the blog the comments got very sad; just don't, hokay?)
Also: you've already seen Stonum kick the glasses up a notch this week, but what about Taylor Lewan's insane mustache tattoo?
The purpose of this:
"I mean it's the best icebreaker in the world. You go up to them," Lewan said, putting his finger in place to reveal the mustache, "'Miss, let's be serious, I just want to dance.'"
You will not be surprised to learn the idea originated in third grade. I mean:
"My friend thought it would be a cool idea to draw a mustache on (his finger)," Lewan said. " I was like 'this is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. I have to do this for real.'"
I love this team.
Kicking paint. Via a reader:
Injury watch. Another pair of big injuries hit the Big Ten this weekend, with Purdue QB Robert Marve and Penn State RT Lou Eliades tearing ACLs and getting knocked out for the year. Marve's replacement is a redshirt freshman who will further condemn Purdue to a terrible season; they're now down their top QB, RB, and WR and just lost to Toledo by 11. The Rockets were dead last in total offense going into the Purdue game; they put up 31 points and exceeded their season yardage average by 100. Purdue is bad. Someone should Yakety Sax the upcoming Purdue-Minnesota game.
Penn State winnability watch. Eliades's loss sends Penn State into a further bout of scrambling on the OL. They were already starting two(!) guys who played guard in 2009 at tackle. Now they're going with this guy:
Filling Eliades will be redshirt junior Chima Okoli, who is an offensive lineman for the first time in his career. Okoli was a full-time defensive lineman in high school and at Penn State until spring drills, when he reluctantly shifted to offense.
Penn State's starting tackles are now 6'3" and 6'4", and the position switch starter klaxons are blaring. Linebacker Uon the situation:
The offensive line was already having issues before this tragedy. I lost count just how many times I pounded my fist on the bar table today when PSU only had to pick up a yard or two in third down situations and got manhandled by Temple's defensive line. … I am now taking bets on just how many of our linemen are going to join ex-punter Jeremy Boone in getting swallowed by Iowa's Adrian Clayborn next week.
Normally level-headed official-journalist-type-guy Bill Kline also sounds the alarm, albeit about a different position:
Penn State's safeties are just too slow. Drew Astorino and Nick Sukay both got burned on runs, and more than once. Andrew Dailey also was beaten. Terrelle Pryor is gonna eat them up, let alone Denard Robinson of Michigan. Can you imagine those safeties trying to even touch D-Rob? He could outrun those guys wearing a NASA spacesuit.
Yeesh. He also has some critical words for Bolden ("overthrows open receivers, holds onto the ball too long, rifles it in there harder than a sledgehammer") and actually says the PSU coaches should have inserted Kevin "Michigan Fans Are Just Bitter" Newsome at some point against the Owls.
All that sounds like overreaction to me. Even so, the Penn State game has moved into the coinflip-ish band with MSU and Iowa, even at night on the road. I remain terrified of Wisconsin even if Vegas hates them.
The Freude. TWIS is up and has the usual bout of Notre Dame self-loathing. Get your laughs in now since ND's next five games should all be easy wins—Boston College is the toughest opponent in that stretch and they also feature in TWIS because they have a 70-year-old OC named "Tranquill," which is just too easy.
their defense doesnt exist. They barely beat an ND that IU could easily handle (ND couldnt dominate PU, which got killed by Toledo. You think Toledo would beat IU??). They barely beat UMass (FCS team?) at home.
They are not going to get 400 yards on IU.... let alone 700 yards.
Michigan are getting full of themselves, again. The BTN is helping.
Chappel will destroy them. Robinson will get some of his yards, but no one else will. And if they are sandbagging his injury, Tate Forcier's parents will have to take down his website after the game.
This is just one guy, obviously. Most other IU fans are hopeful but reasonable, or seem reasonable next to this guy, who also suggests that if the "referines" give Michigan the game again, IU should join the Big 12.