Injury Bug vs. Mike Barwis

Submitted by Magnus on September 7th, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Amidst all the hype for Mike Barwis in the 2007-08 offseason, one of the most interesting Barwis qualities I heard was this: By doing "prehab" (workouts normally used by physical therapy patients) Barwis and his staff didn't have a serious long-term injury in 2007 at West Virginia.  Having spent considerable time in physical therapy for various injuries, I thought this was interesting because I still do exercises I learned in therapy, and I feel much healthier because of them.

I was hoping for a relatively injury-free season, but that has not been the case.  Saturday's game against Miami (OH) saw starting left tackle Mark Ortmann go down with a possible dislocated elbow (he was in a cast and a sling after the game) and starting running back Michael Shaw miss most of the game with a pulled groin.  These injuries come on the heels of Brandon Minor (hamstring), Carlos Brown (finger, hip, shouler), Greg Mathews (ankle), Junior Hemingway (shoulder, hamstring), and Mark Huyge (ankle) suffering bumps and bruises that have limited their playing time as well.

So far none of these injuries has been crippling.  Michigan's stars have stayed healthy, and nobody other than Ortmann seems to be out for an extended period of time.  Still, on a team seriously lacking depth, an injury or two to starters could be devastating.  Bryant Nowicki, a walk-on, ended the game protecting the blind side of quarterback Nick Sheridan, formerly a walk-on himself.  That didn't cause any problems against Miami, but it may if Nowicki plays against more talented teams.  I would not be surprised to see right tackle Steve Schilling slide to left tackle for the Notre Dame game next week.  And while Sam McGuffie ran the ball fairly well against Miami, it's pretty clear that Michael Shaw is the most dangerous running back Michigan has seen since Tyrone Wheatley.

This is not to say that Mike Barwis is at fault.  No matter how strong players get, there will always be injuries.  (Just ask that Lithuanian power lifter who became famous for dislocating his elbow during the Olympics.)  The team does look faster, stronger, and better conditioned in 2008.  But if Michigan continues to suffer even minor injuries for the rest of the season, it's going to be an even longer year than we all thought.



September 7th, 2008 at 10:39 AM ^

"And while Sam McGuffie ran the ball fairly well against Miami, it's pretty clear that Michael Shaw is the most dangerous running back Michigan has seen since Tyrone Wheatley."


Surely, there are loads of empirical evidence to back up this statement.


September 7th, 2008 at 12:25 PM ^

I didn't say Shaw was the "best" or the "greatest" running back since Wheatley.  I simply said that he's the most dangerous, as in he could take it the distance on any given play. 

If you disagree, feel free to tell me who has looked more dangerous.  But don't just nit-pick without offering a counterpoint.


September 7th, 2008 at 5:17 PM ^

Actually, the counterpoint should probably be something like, "No, the most dangerous running back since Wheatley is ___________________."

Instead, your argument amounts to "Nuh-uh" which I don't find to be a very substantial counterpoint.

Maybe we should do this specifically.  Let's take a look at a bunch of running backs since Wheatley left and decide whether they're big play threats or not.

  1. Minor hasn't shown a great deal of burst.
  2. Brown has been okay.
  3. Hart was slow.
  4. McGuffie hasn't shown lightning speed.
  5. Chris Perry wasn't that fast.
  6. David Underwood?  No.
  7. Anthony Thomas?  No.
  8. Clarence Williams?  No.
  9. Chris Howard?  No.
  10. Tshimanga Biakabatuka?  Maybe?
  11. BJ Askew?  No.
  12. Ricky Powers?  No.

I'm sure I'm missing a guy or two in there, but none of those names says, "He could go 80 yards on any given play."  Carlos Brown is probably the second-fastest guy on that list and he did have that 85-yarder last year against Minnesota, but I don't think that will be a frequent occurrence.  And Shaw is already doing well as a freshman, whereas Brown played like crap as a frosh.


September 8th, 2008 at 11:31 AM ^

What is your POINT?  You're not making a point.  You're just saying "That isn't true" without making a point of your own.

You could prove me wrong - or at least offer a decent argument - if you would state who, if anyone, of those dozen backs I listed is more dangerous.  Not BETTER because Hart and Thomas, at least, could very well be better college running backs.  But who of those people is more DANGEROUS, as in they could make a big play at any point?

I've been making my point over and over again, but you refuse to argue against it.  It's not even really an argument, because you're not making a point.


September 8th, 2008 at 12:55 PM ^

Is that loud enough/clear enough for you?  I'll make it easier just in case.








I don't have to have an argument with you about who I think is the most dangerous running back evar.  You said, "it's pretty clear that Michael Shaw is the most dangerous running back Michigan has seen since Tyrone Wheatley" after FOUR CARRIES.  You're jumping the gun, that's all.  I don't know why it's so difficult for you to understand what I'm saying.


September 8th, 2008 at 9:12 PM ^

That would be totally sweet!!  IIRC, Sliced Bread was a terror at DT, often sandwiching quarterbacks a half dozen times a game!   Running backs were toast!  Let's not forget that game against ND when he grilled Brady Cheese on successive plays.  I just Wonder rye we haven't been able to recruit someone of the same mold since him.  Here's to Martin spreading his buttery justice over the nooks and crannies of our cupcake non-conf opponents! 


September 8th, 2008 at 7:27 AM ^

Mr McGuffie certainly did show top end speed.  On our last scoring drive he gained the corner around well positioned defensemen using his jets.  He has also shown toughness carrying the ball as the primary running back and taking on multiple defenders while picking up the tough YAC.  Shaw was great for his two runs but got hurt and maybe isn't an every down type of back.  The sample size on any of these players is far too small to compare them to any great Michigan back of the past.


September 8th, 2008 at 1:06 PM ^

How did that sprinter's speed work out for Justin Gatlin in his NFL tryout?  Not so well?

I'm not talking about track speed.  I'm talking about football speed.  Shaw looks faster than McGuffie when they're wearing pads.  Why the hell would I care about track speed when I'm talking about football games?  There are countless track sprinters who have never done anything in football.


September 8th, 2008 at 1:26 PM ^

"There are countless track sprinters who have never done anything in football."


So far, Michael Shaw falls into this category at any level beyond high school football.


Also, wtf at you talking about "sprinter's speed" and then saying, "I'm not talking about track speed, I'm talking about football speed Justin Gatlin, sprinters suck at football, blah blah blah." 

Quit moving the goalposts.


September 8th, 2008 at 1:38 PM ^

You're getting dumber by the post.  Let me say it succinctly for you, so maybe you'll understand:

Michael Shaw looks like the fastest running back (while wearing pads) that Michigan fans have seen since Tyrone Wheatley.

Of course, I've been saying a version of this all along, but you chose to interpret it in any number of ways.


September 8th, 2008 at 1:57 PM ^

There's a huge difference between expressing an opinion such as, "Michael Shaw looks like the fastest running back (while wearing pads) that Michigan fans have seen since Tyrone Wheatley." and making a statement of fact such as, "it's pretty clear that Michael Shaw is the most dangerous running back Michigan has seen since Tyrone Wheatley."

 If you don't see that, I don't know what to tell you.


September 8th, 2008 at 2:05 PM ^

Considering this blog is a conglomeration of my opinions, I assumed it was understood that when I make observations, I'm making them from my own viewpoint.  There's nothing factual about my original statement.  I didn't say "Every Michigan fan knows Michael Shaw is the fastest." 

It is pretty clear to me.  I guess the rest of you will just have to wait until he's scoring 70 yard touchdowns to see it.

chitownblue (not verified)

September 7th, 2008 at 10:39 AM ^

Wouldn't "prehab" only help certain types of injury? If I recall, Brown sliced and broke his finger in weight-room accident - no amount of prehab is going to make your finger withstand a dropping dumb-bell. Also, Mathews' injury was essentially blunt trauma - he was injured by direct contact (as I think was Hemingway's shoulder).

If you're looking at muscle strains or pulls and the like, then yeah, I'd imagine preventive training would help somewhat.


September 7th, 2008 at 10:45 AM ^

Yes, which is why I put in there that players are going to get injured no matter what.

 However, "prehab" can help joint injuries by strengthening the muscles around those joints.  So ankle, knee, shoulder, etc. injuries should be lessened.  Fortunately, we haven't had many of those. 


September 8th, 2008 at 1:50 PM ^

One thing that people are forgetting: '07 Seniors had years of Barwis, not months.  Granted this doesn't apply to the fresmen, but in general, I have to believe that more time with Barwis = better conditioning.  Sort of like the limited offense, Barwis hasn't even had time to fully implement the conditioning program yet!!!   eeeeeee I'm a little girl!!!!


September 7th, 2008 at 11:18 AM ^

Is it just me, or does it seem like our D line owns the 4th quarter. When their O fatties are huffing and puffing, our D seems to be teeing off on them and getting much better penetration. I noticed this against Utah and how often Johnson was running for his life, and saw the same thing against Miami. Considering the huge imbalance in time of possession in the 2nd half, I'd say the evidence points towards eeeeBarwis having a significant effect on our ability to stay in close games. If the offense can get on track and pass with any sort of competency, that could help the run game (obviously the line has to block as well).

chitownblue (not verified)

September 7th, 2008 at 11:21 AM ^

I'll say this: Will Johnson is a fucking machine. He was supposed to be the strongest dude last year, too, so I don't know if this is really Barwis, or a light switch getting flipped.


September 7th, 2008 at 12:22 PM ^

Johnson looks a good deal quicker than he did last year.  He was strong and could hold the point of attack in 2007, but he wasn't much good if the runner didn't run straight into him.  But he's coming off the ball quicker and he made a nice sack on Brian Johnson last week.  I would definitely attribute that to Barwis, because I don't think he's ever been mistaken for quick before.


September 7th, 2008 at 4:39 PM ^

I've noticed the same thing. Yes, the Barwis Program is helping there, but so to is depth. We've playing a lot more guys up front in these last two games than I've seen us play in years. It keeps our stars fresh, but also also gets other talented players in there. The backups have made plays in the fourth quarter: Patterson's tackle and strip of Johnson last week and Martin's first down sack yesterday.

I like what I see.


September 8th, 2008 at 9:52 AM ^

That sack was just beastly. The way he exploded into the QB and just engulfed him has me overly excited about his future.

I forgot to watch and see if his teammates celebrated with him though. We all know how important that is. 


September 8th, 2008 at 7:53 PM ^

I vote Max Martin for most dangerous running back. At least if you define dangerous as either A) Most likely to fumble or B) Most likely to kill and rape you in a dark alley.