Saturday, November 29, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I don't have much of a preview for the game, because it would probably be ugly.
When O-State is on offense, the advantage should be Michigan's D-Line vs. O-State's O-line which has mightily struggled at times this season. They've gotten better though and in the run game, alot will rely on Ezeh and Mouton coming up to help on the run (Oh yeah, we better have 4 down linemen). If Michigan can't slow down Beanie Wells they don't have a shot. But if they do then it depends on if they can keep contain on Pryor and if the coverage can step it up big time when Pryor rolls out of the pocket (eeekk). Remember stopping the running game will involve slowing down Pryor in addition to Wells, its certainly not all Beanie.
O-State hasn't passed much this season meaning they have produced less yardage than Michigan this year. But Pryor is the highest rated passer in passing efficiency since he doesn't have to throw it much when the running game is going. He has thrown some wobbly passes downfield and there should be a couple tomorrow which Michigan HAS to take advantage of.
When Michigan's on offense, Threet and Schilling are out. Without the threat of Threet playing, I actually think it should help Sheridan relax a little bit (see Minnesota game). Schilling out definitely hurts big time, but luckily O-State's D-line is something Michigan should be able to compete with because they have not been great this season. Laurinaitis and Freeman are awesome and versatile linebackers who are the heart of the defense. Throw in a great secondary led by Jenkins and it doesn't look pretty. Michigan will need some breaks and big plays. Minor, Brown, McGuffie, and Shaw are now expected to play. That should help.
On special teams O-State is solid again and Michigan needs to execute and not turn it over.
If you go objectively, Michigan has no shot. Maybe that's how it'll play out. But in this rivalry, you never know.
Up next is something I found myself typing when I started this. It came from the heart I don't care what anyone thinks. I bleed maize and blue and here's what I hope they play for tomorrow:
You guys have no talent. You guys have no confidence. You guys have no heart. Hell you guys would rather be back home sitting on the couch than right here.
Most of the time this is just coach speak, but not for this team, not today.
The damn Buckeyes are saying it. Spielman says you are just terrible, you are playing with no confidence, no pride. Herbstreit says you just have no talent, no heart, no chance, and would rather not even play Ohio State.
Even Desmond, yeah he loves us, but he even says this isn’t Michigan right now, “This is Michigan Tech.”
This season’s been rough and y’all never thought you’d ever have to go through this. 3-8, empty stands on your senior night, and you all have taken more shit than anyone ever should endure.
When will it stop?
Will it stop 5 years from now? Will it stop 3 years from now? Will it stop next year? Or will it stop right here, right now?
When you all run into that tunnel to the loudest chorus of boos you have ever heard, soak it in one last time. Soak in the “you sucks”. Remember all the shit you’ve heard all season and sit there and let it in sink in one last time.
“You suck! You’re worthless! You’re terrible! Go home!” Bathe in it and keep bathing in it til you take the field.
Remember the season and the pain, remember the frustration, remember the anger. Don’t say a word just let it brew inside of you.
Then at 12:07, when the ball is finally kicked into the air, it’s time.
It doesn’t stop next year, in 3 years, in 5 years, it stops now! And as you run down the field for your first hit of the game is when it stops! Let the frustration out and smack the Bucks in the mouth.
From kickoff to the final whistle, this is the last chance you’ll get to win the one thing you all well deserve...silence!
Each snap will be the hardest hitting, toughest blocking, hardest running, most focused moment of your life. Play by play let all the anger and frustration out. Hear all the boos from the year. Hear all the “you sucks!” from the season.
After each hit, you’ll get silence. The more hits we pile on, the more silence we’ll get. And when the final whistle blows you’ll finally get to hear the sweetest sound that you’ve never heard this season....Silence.
Shut them up! Enough is enough! Throw the record out, throw out the troubles of the year, throw out what’s been said, this is STILL MICHIGAN! And I’ll be damned if we don’t go out there and play the hardest damn football game of our lives.
It stops now! From kickoff to the final whistle. Shut them up!
This is Michigan.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The College Basketball season has finally gotten into full swing starting today, and I have to start by saying I have been very impressed with ESPN’s 24 hrs of College Basketball coverage. This was an excellent scheduling ploy, and I loved watching basketball at 2 AM with St. Mary’s playing at home (Sidenote: Patty Mills is for real. Gets his own shot very similar to the way Iverson did back in college. He will be a name you hear come tourney time). I went to sleep with St. Mary's on and woke up in time watch the end of Hawaii/Idaho State. It was a basketball fan's dream.
It reminded me of that first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament when basketball is on for 12 hours straight and you would always try and skip class/watch the game at work. I’ve often said on this blog that those two days are the best consecutive sports days of the year, and I think ESPN could run with this “season opener marathon” idea in the coming years. Put a couple more marquee games on the slate (ESPN scheduled only one game against ranked opponents in Davidson/Oklahoma and UNC/Kentucky is the next closest thing) and this marathon could be a ratings monster. I'd also like to see more mid-major teams against the big conferences. ( For example, Oakland beat Oregon in OT on the West Coast, and was a much better match-up on paper than some of the other games shown today.) I would have seriously considered calling-in sick had ESPN shown something other than Iowa/Kansas women's basketball at noon. No offense to fans of Women’s Bball, but no women’s regular season match-up generates enough excitement worth cutting class for. Not even Tenn/UConn. Hopefully ESPN gives me something I can stay home for next year.
Finally, ESPN’s coverage doesn’t receive total praise from me as they dropped the ball in one of the day's final games in Syracuse/Richmond. The new “Interactive Messaging,” where they scroll fan messages across the top of the screen, is just another example of news networks ramming pointless technology down your throat. This should be banned, along with CNN’s “Hologram Technology” and MSNBC’s “Virtual Pantheon” background from election night. It all needs to go. Now.
OK, back to the Wolverines. Here’s a couple things to watch for on Thursday:
Getting On the Glass:
The Collison Effect: PG Darren Collison is arguably the best on-the-ball defender in all the land. He is lightning quick and made Kelvin Grady look like an eighth grader when these two teams played last year. On Offense, Beilein will be forced to rotate CJ Lee, David Merritt, and Kelvin Grady. None of these guys can match Collison’s quickness, but fresh legs should help a little bit. The point of interest here is whether or not the Bruins decide to put Collison on Manny Harris or give that assignment to Josh Shipp. Look for Shipp to start on Harris, but if Manny gets hot don’t be surprised to see Collison start to put pressure on Harris and funnel him toward the help defense.
The One They Call “Fresh”: Manny Harris was named Big Ten Player of the Week last week and rightfully so. On consecutive points, he put up 56 points and almost dropped a triple-double on a team that just got done giving
Last note on Harris: A lot of fans I’ve talked to have voiced their concern that Harris could go pro at the end of the season. To them I say this: Harris making the jump to the pros would be the worst decision since MSU’s Marcus Taylor tried to make the jump early as a Sophmore and was drafted 52nd overall by the Timberwolves.
The Frontcourt: I can only hope that Zach Gibson watched the game film from last week and totally changed his outlook of how he needs to approach this game against UCLA. Hopefully the game film, plus the cold weather this week, has ignited a Rocky-like fire inside him. Try and picture Gibson running up the steps of the Angell Hall in a gray sweatsuit, knit cap, and Chuck Taylors. Few things would motivate me to get to Angell Hall before 9 AM in the winter, but witnessing this would be one of them. While I have trouble seeing it, I think this is the mentality he needs to adopt to rebound from last week’s performance against Northeastern. Both Gibson and Sims could really be effective against a somewhat undersized front-line of UCLA (Aboya at C is closer to 6’8 than his listed 6’9). Look for Beilein to go inside early to test Aboya.
Other points of interest: Douglass needs to have a big game to give UM a shot, CJ Lee makes his Big Apple return, Michigan’s first National TV appearance of the year, and UM Bball could have fewer losses than UM Hockey heading into the Christmas break. Didn’t think I’d be saying that a year ago…
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Both from college basketball...
Friday, November 14, 2008
Explanation: I have none I don't know anyone who does. My guess is this is the Nick Sheridan that the coaches picked to start the season. A guy who is actually calm in the pocket, keeps his head downfield when he scrambled, and does not force the ball when there is nothing there. All of those things are complete opposites of what he had done earlier in the year.
My unsubstantiated theory on this is that Michigan players and coaches, prior to the Minnesota game, had been carrying the burden of trying to make a bowl game and keep the streak alive. Because of this, the coaches did not let the players loose as much, and the players themselves were either hesitant at times (defense) or trying to force things too much (quarterbacks).
But with the streak finally out of the question. The coaches, admitted that they finally let them loose on defense, as Shafer took "all the complicated stuff out" as Rodriguez said and just let the guys play the way they know how to in the 4-2-5. On offense, the players, Sheridan especially, did not try to force things and just played relaxed and within themselves. The result: a blowout of a 7-2 team who was ranked a week prior, and Michigan winning a trophy in their last chance to do so in 2005.
This week, I have no idea which Michigan team will show up. I'm going to guess a slightly subdued version of last week, but still better than the rest of the season. Northwestern is without their top two running backs, and maybe without their starting quarterback again. They just got spanked by eeek O-State last week. Still they're receiving votes in top 25 polls (not exactly sure why) and have played better than Michigan this season (like most everyone else).
I don't know, but what the hell. Here's a short preview kind of (again we're going with a slightly less good Michigan team than last week).
Northwestern Offense vs. Michigan Defense:
Michigan's is likely to stay in the four man front with the 4-2-5 Nickel package for much of the game like they played last week. The four man front is obviously needed since that's the strength of the Michigan team. I love taking one linebacker out of there as well. And using Harrison and some other safeties as a nickelback/linebacker, blitzing alot is something I love as well (less of a liability in coverage and quick guys to get pressure). All of these are pretty much what everyone has asked for at some point of the season. A combination of that scheme change and the players finally playing more loose and relaxed is what I think resulted in their complete shut down of Minnesota's offense.
This week, hopefully they do the same scheme-wise and hopefully the players play loose and with the same enthusiasm of last week. Brandon Graham said he knew Michigan was more ready to play after the first hit.
Northwestern is now on their third string running back, #25 5'8" 175 pound So. Stephen Simmons, and will be with a still hurting, but ready to go starting QB in C.J. Bacher, but might split time with backup Mike Kafka.
Northwestern's running game has averaged 160 yards per game this season, but again, they're on the third-string Simmons who has averaged 2.9 yards on just 18 carries this season. If Northwestern can run, we have reverted to our play against Purdue. There is absolutely no reason Northwestern and Simmons should be able to run on Michigan tomorrow. Northwestern's O-line has three redshirt freshman and one sophomore starting and has been able to rely on the talented Sutton and fairly talented backup, Conteh, to make plays. Those two are gone and the running game should be too. But we've seen plenty of the unexpected this season.
Northwestern's passing game, however, could get back on track with Bacher back at the helm for the first time since October 25th. Kafka didn't play poorly the last two weeks and could still see the field, but Bacher is the senior leader of this team and though he's a little less mobile than Kafka, he still has 244 yards on the year averaging 4.2 yards per carry on the ground. If Michigan switches back to the 3-3-5 for some ungodly reason, or stops playing as aggressive in the 4-2-5, this could turn ugly.
Northwestern, however, has mightily struggled with turnovers this season. Bacher has 11 INTs to 10 TDs this season through the air, and Kafka also threw 3 INTs to just 2 TDs. Northwestern has also lost 10 fumbles and with a young running back and bad weather, that could increase.
If Michigan plays anywhere near the way they played against Minnesota defensively, they should contain a banged up Northwestern team. Northwestern will get in the endzone though at least once. Their spread is well-executed enough to give Michigan some trouble. This is a better offense than Minnesota's, but Michigan still should play loose like they did last week.
Michigan Offense vs. NW Defense:
Nick Sheridan will start. If he doesn't force things this works. If it doesn't work, Steven Threet is available and fully healthy which is great for Michigan. Justin Feagin will come in and bring a change of pace and I predict he will actually throw a pass tomorrow despite the bad weather. A couple of the runs he had were on read plays where Feagin had a throwing option; I say he passes it once and shows the pass just enough to keep running well.
That's the quarterback situation which looks alot better this week. Running back situation not nearly as good with Brandon Minor likely out for the entire game and Michael Shaw getting his first start. Shaw played very well, though, last week against Minnesota and it will be interesting to see how he does taking the majority of the carries. McGuffie should play alot more now with Minor out and he should be healthier. I doubt the run game will be as effective, unless the O-line plays as well as they did last week. Last week was their best performance and if they continue that play, and Shaw gets some big runs early, he could relax a little and make some plays. Still, that is unlikely and the O-line and run game should regress a little bit. Part of the reason for that is Northwestern's run defense is actually pretty good and better than Minnesota's giving up just 120 yards per game.
Greg Matthews played great, Darryl Stonum not so much, but Odoms also played very well last week. Matthews is turning in some awesome catches though and starting to gain momentum to be a very legitimate threat come next season. Northwestern has a terrible pass defense (228 yards per game and 9th in the Big Ten) so if Sheridan and Threet stay within themselves, as Sheridan did last week, Michigan could rip apart NW through the air.
So run game should regress, but NW is terrible in pass defense so if the QBs don't force things, Michigan should have enough success there.
Holy K.C. Lopata! Zoltan continues to dominate. The return game is actually looking to be more consistent and improving week to week.
NW is dead last in the Big Ten in punt returns, averaging just 36 yards per punt (and punting should be a major part with the bad weather), but they have a decent kicker in Villareal (17-21).
Michigan's special teams has been better as of late though, and barring a regression to their fumbles of early 2008, they should have an edge here.
Michigan 29 Northwestern 17
I have no reasoning for this as I find it impossible to predict with this Michigan team. This is a complete gut feeling of what I think will happen. I hope I'm right.
Thank you seniors for working hard despite the terrible year.
Four years ago, this is not exactly what the 6th ranked recruiting class of 2005 (and those left from the 5th ranked recruiting class of 2004) had in mind.
In 2004 and 2005, many had thought Lloyd Carr and company had put together perhaps their best back to back recruiting classes in Lloyd's tenure. Those from the 2004 class whose eligibility ended after 2007 (Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Jamar Adams), despite their disappointing '07 campaign had largely proven their #5 class ranking, producing Michigan's all-time leading passer and rusher, and the #1 overall NFL pick in Jake Long.
Four years ago, those who saw the 2005 incoming class, certainly wouldn't have predicted those seniors to go 3-7 with a loss to Toledo among the seven losses. But nevertheless, that is where they are.
While most point to Rodriguez's transition as the cause for this disappointing end to the '05 classes career, another look at what has happened to the class, prior to Rodriguez even arriving shows that this senior class is only 1/3 of the class that should be on the field.
Here is the list of players from the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes who would have been eligible for a fifth year this season and their resulting fates leading up to this season. Anyone who is a fourth year junior from that '05 class was removed from the list. In bold are the players who are actually still here.
2004 Recruiting Class-5th in the Nation by Rivals.com
Roger Allison RB/FB 3 stars---Career Ending Neck injury prior to 2005 season
Adrian Arrington WR 4 stars---Entered Draft Early
Keston Cheathem WR 3 stars---TRANSFER to Oregon State prior to 2005 season
Jeremy Ciulla OL 3 stars---Realized he had no future in football and didn’t come back after coaching change
Doug Dutch WR 4 stars---Disappointing Underachieving Career/Special Teams guy
Brett Gallimore OL/DL 4 stars---Never played much---Got Degree in ’07 and moved on with his life
Tim Jamison DE 4 stars---Good Defensive End and Starter
Will Johnson DT 4 stars---Starter
Max Martin RB 4 stars---TRANSFER to Alabama prior to 2006 then to Alabama A&M
Mike Massey DE/TE 4 stars---Mediocre to Bad Tight End
Alex Mitchell OL 4 stars---Didn’t come back for fifth year with coaching change
Chris Rogers LB 4 stars---TRANSFER to Penn State prior to 2006 season
Charles Stewart DB 3 stars---Decent to Not so Good Safety
John Thompson LB 3 stars---Decent to Not so good Linebacker
Morgan Trent WR/DB 4 stars---Good Cornerback (eventually)
Marques Walton DT 2 stars---TRANSFER to Southern Illinois prior to 2007 season
2005 Recruiting Class-6th in the Nation by Rivals.com
Antonio Bass ATH 4 stars---career ending injury
Jason Forcier QB 3 stars---TRANSFER to Stanford
Eugene Germany DE 4 stars---Kicked off Team for Fight incident in 2007-TRANSFER to Arizona State
Brandon Harrison DB 4 stars---Mediocre safety/nickelback
Brandon Logan LB 3 stars---never played significantly
Mario Manningham WR 4 stars---Entered Draft Early
James McKinney DT 4 stars---TRANSFER to Louisville
Chris McLaurin DE/TE 3 stars---Off team prior to this season/injury? staying on Medical Scholarship
Chris Richards ATH 3 stars---Kicked off team after Fight incident in 2007/Never played significantly
Justin Schifano OL 4 stars---Never played-Left Team b/c didn’t enjoy football anymore
Johnny Sears DB 3 stars---Idiot---Kicked off team in 2007
Mister Simpson RB 3 stars---TRANSFER to Cincy
Marques Slocum DT 4 stars---Kicked off team prior to 2008 season
Terrance Taylor DT 4 stars---Great player
30 Players to Start With MINUS:
3 Career Ending Injuries (Bass of course hurts big time)
11 Kicked off the team AND/OR Transfers (All of which happened under Lloyd Carr, except for Slocum)
2 Early Draft Entries
4 Decided to move on with their lives and stop playing football (All O-LINEMEN)
With that we are left with just:
10 SENIORS (eligibility wise) after starting with 30 potential seniors
There are 8 fourth year guys (from the '05 class) with another year of eligibility none of which are good enough for the draft (Carson Butler DE, Andre Criswell DE, Kevin Grady RB, Tim McAvoy OL, Zoltan Mesko P, David Moosman OL, Laterryal Savoy WR, and Cory Zirbel OL).
Usually any recruiting class will see some considerable attrition from signing day to the start of their senior year. But from 30 guys who would be in their last year of eligibility to just 10?
Of the 16 players from the '04 class that would be seniors eligibility wise this season, we are left with just 7, 2 of which are Doug Dutch and Mike Massey who hardly have played this year.
Somehow 9 players from the '04 class, more than half the number of who should be in their final year, are gone.
Of the 14 players from the 2005 class who, barring injuries, would be in their final year of eligibility this season, we are left with 3, one of which has been good/great in Terrance Taylor, one mediocre to bad in Brandon Harrison, and one who never plays in Brandon Logan.
Somehow 11 players from the 2005 class who should be on the field this year, are gone. (There were 22 players in the entire class of 2005 so half the class defected)
Sidenote: Before you morons who are already anti-Rodriguez blame him, if you notice, only one player was kicked off the team by Rodriguez and that was the ever-troubling Marques Slocum. Out of the other four who decided not to come back for a senior season, Brett Gallimore and Justin Schifano were flat out ready to move on with their lives regardless of the coaching situation (neither every played and the latter seemed uninterested during his career). It could be argued that Ciulla and Mitchell didn't like Rodriguez and therefore didn't return. And that is only a possibility as neither have come out dissing on Rodriguez or anything. So out of the 20 potential seniors who are now off the team, only two COULD HAVE been due to a disagreement with RichRod.
Although recruiting rankings are flawed, if you are going to judge whether this senior class under/overperformed base on their ranking as a class (which was 6th for the '05 class according to rivals) we might as well judge the talent of the players by what they were rated out of high school.
11 four-star players who would be seniors this year, were lost to team at some point. That's a lot of talent that never really got a chance to develop.
And now we are left with these guys for the senior class:
Terrance Taylor DT
Brandon Harrison DB
Brandon Logan LB/Special Teams
Austin Panter LB
5th Year Seniors:
Morgan Trent DB
John Thompson LB
Charles Stewart DB
Mike Massey TE
Will Johnson DE
Tim Jamison DE
Doug Dutch Special Teams
Shakir Edwards Special Teams
Jason Gingell K
Sean Griffin LS
K.C. Lopata K
That's fifteen players in their last year of eligibility, five of them walk-ons or transfers, and of the ones who are actually from the recruiting classes, only 3 never developed into a big time contributor (Dutch, Logan, and Massey).
For a senior class of just 10 players who were actively recruited out of high school, seven starters is not bad at all. Sure Charles Stewart and John Thompson have not been very good this year, but you have to wonder if Michigan would have ever had to count on them if 20 players hadn't defected from the class.
While this year has been terrible, the seniors who stayed are not to blame. They were caught up in a class that had more attrition than most teams will ever see in a senior class. If they were still surrounded by even 5-10 of the guys who came in with them but are now gone, this senior class probably would have a couple more wins to their credit and still be in the hunt for a bowl game.
But only 1/3 of those who would be seniors this year have stayed. And when they take the field Saturday, no matter what happens in the game, I'll appreciate the fact that they not only stayed with their final year occurring in transition, but I'll commend them for having to watch 2/3 of the guys they came in with disappear.
The record still stands at a terrible 3-7, but when those 15 seniors run through the tunnel on Saturday, I'll be applauding.
Those who stayed certainly weren't champions. But, had that class not seen the unprecedented amount of attrition they did, they certainly would have had a better shot.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Join WCBN Sports next week LIVE in New York City and Columbus, Ohio. We have confirmed we will be broadcasting from Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals and championship round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Michigan will play UCLA or Miami (Ohio) on Thursday night at 9:00 and either Duke or Southern Illinois on Friday. Then Saturday, we will broadcast the final Michigan football game of the season, as Michigan battles their arch-rival Ohio State at high-noon in Columbus. 3 Games... 3 days... 2 cities... all on WCBN.
Tonight’s 76-56 Michigan win over the Northeastern Huskies sends the Wolverines to MSG next week in a match-up against UCLA and a possible finals match-up against Duke. The margin of victory was big and Manny Harris took home tournament MVP honors. Things were great for the Maize and Blue. That said… I can’t believe
But, that’s why they play the game. Here’s more on tonight’s flattening of the Huskies:
Lessons from LeBron: Manny Harris was everywhere this week. He dropped 30 on Michigan Tech and comes back to put up 26 points, 10 rebs, and 8 assists on Northeastern…just to make sure you didn’t think he was one-dimensional. Harris would have the triple double had it not been for a missed dunk and lay-up from Sims.
It looks like LeBron’s advice at summer camp has taken root.
Harris is scary good, will only get better, and is benefiting from open lanes created by his teammates hitting their threes. He is driving to the hoop at will and can probably set another record for trips to the foul line this year. The only thing I worry about is whether or not they start to lean more than they should. Harris has a tendency to be passive/defer in certain games, but a steady contribution from him will be what this team needs while the young guns (Novak and Douglass) get acclimated.
Microwave off the Bench: DeShawn Sims had himself another great game, putting up 19 points to go along with 7 boards off the bench. He looked comfortable at the 5 spot, moving to the 4 at times, and seemed to do well in clogging the lane and altering a good number of NU’s put-back attempts. If he remains on the bench to start, he’ll do exactly what Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson did for the Detroit Pistons in the Bad Boys era: Give them solid point production off the bench and make smart choices with the ball down the stretch. While he doesn’t need 19 pts a night, his presence on the boards needs to be felt in games like tonight where his front court teammates disappear on the glass. Speaking of which…..
The Gibson ‘wagon has stalled: Zach Gibson faced his first legitimate post-up opponent in NU’s Ojougboh and was not up to the task. Gibson was in foul trouble for much of the game, finishing with 4 points and 4 rebs in 15 minutes. He took only two shots and really looked flustered trying to get open. I’m not expecting him to be Kevin Love, but is 8 points and 7 boards a night too much too ask? I hope not. Otherwise the “Gibson Bandwagon” will be dismantled for parts.
The Crisler Crowd was decent for a 8pm Wednesday tip-off. Listed attendance was at 6200 (the lower bowl was pretty crowded) with the Maize Rage just about full for the first time this year. It would only take one win at MSG to see that attendance spike even higher when the Wolverines return from their road trip, even for a game vs.
It’ll be interesting to see the reaction
Yes, We Can.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Michigan Basketball will take on its second opponent in as many games from the mighty GLIACconference for the 2K Sports /Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. Having already beaten tiny SVSU,
Anyways, here’s a few things to look for Tuesday:
The Starting Five: Coach Beilein went with a line-up of Gibson, Wright, Harris, Douglass, and Merrit last game. While Wright did a great job of forcing turnovers and being active with his on-the ball defense, I thought DeShawn Sims did a much better job on offense and on the defensive boards. Remember, the Wolverines were out rebounded by the Cardinals 39-34 last Thursday. Sims as a starter makes sense, but Beilein said he likes Sims at the 5 and may stick with him off the bench. This game should show if he intends to stick with the plan.
This game isn’t being played at Yost…which is the only place Michigan Tech would ever have a prayer of beating
Benching Ben? I don’t know what we are going to see from Ben Cronin, if anything. Cronin looked like an efficient passer out of the post, but only played 3 minutes and looked like he struggled. A lot of people are high on this kid and think he could make a difference. To all those people, I say that size is no substitute for skill and this kid is the poster-child for redshirt freshmen. He has a lot of potential, but he is a very raw player who would do better to get a year of practice and strength training under his belt. Plus, I think he is injured far worse than people inside that program are letting on. (All aboard the Gibson bandwagon!)
Speaking of the Freshmen, can anyone think of a good nickname for the Douglass/Novak duo? The fact that they have almost the exact same skill set and hair style, and will be confused with each other for the rest of this year by all broadcasters, really calls for a moniker. So far, all I’ve got is “The Cabbage-Patch Twins.” It stays until I hear something better.
Tuesday’s game is free for students (just like every other game that doesn't involve Duke and MSU). The weather has finally turned towards typical November temperatures, but expect decent sized crowds this week, especially if
Friday, November 7, 2008
Probably not going to happen though.
Minnesota Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Michigan's defense is now 90th in the country in total defense and 101st in pass defense. Blame whoever you want but simply this is everyone's fault as it was Rodriguez's decision to switch to the 3-3-5 last week, Shafer's defense looked terrible before that switch anyways, and I don't think I have ever seen a team miss as many tackles as the players have this season. So, flat out, the defense is terrible and I was a complete moron to think they would be awesome this year.
What happened against a terrible Purdue offense last week with their 3RD STRING QB spells a nightmare for what will happen this week with Minnesota's experienced starting QB Adam Weber and All-American caliber wide receiver Eric Decker. Weber can run (344 yards and 3 TDs) and has grown to an extremely efficient passer this year (66% for 2151 yards and 11 TDs to 4 INTs) which means absolute disaster already regardless if Decker plays or not.
Before last week's performance I probably would have said Michigan's defense has a shot. Minnesota has a young offensive line that has given up over 2 sacks per game which should normally be an advantage for the experienced Michigan D-line.
Also, Minnesota has struggled to get their running game going this season (94th in the country WORSE THAN MICHIGAN'S). Forget it though as I still cannot erase last week's performance out of my mind where Michigan got no pressure on a first time starting quarterback (0 sacks) and gave up 256 yards on the ground to what had been an anemic Purdue rushing game, mainly due to everything that was opened up by a running QB in Justin Siller.
If you've read any of these before you are probably sick of my optimism and I am trying to search for some here, but I simply cannot. Minnesota's offense is not that good, but Michigan's offense is probably the remedy for that just as it has been for many struggling offenses this season (except Michigan's). The defense has stepped it up at times this year, but everything seems to be going downhill especially with the switch to the 3-3-5 last week.
I don't know if they switch back to the 4-3 or not, but at this point does it really even matter? Missed tackles, Donovan Warren at safety, terrible play from the linebackers= success for opposing offenses. Minnesota and the mobile Weber will see probably get to experience some of that success tomorrow.
Michigan Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Minnesota is not a very good defense either yardage wise. They give up 132 yards per game on the ground and are 82nd in the nation in pass defense. Too bad it doesn't matter how bad they might be because Nick Sheridan will most likely be starting with Threet probably out with a concussion suffered in last week's game.
And oh yeah, turnover prone Sheridan will have to lead an offense against a Minnesota defense that has used a plethora of forced turnovers to propel them to their 7-2 record this season. Minnesota is 2nd in the NATION in turnover margin. They've forced 26 turnovers on the year (tied for 1st in the country). If Threet doesn't play, and it's likely he won't, Sheridan will probably be throwing it to Minnesota players more than to Michigan. The only hope is to hand it off to Minor who was the only bright spot in Michigan's offense last week and continues to show that he will be the starter next year.
Justin Feagin has been moved back to QB with Threet's injury and I truly believe we will actually see him in tomorrow. My dream scenario for the offense is that Feagin comes in and has a Justin Siller-esque day tomorrow coming out of nowhere. The coaching staff already blew his redshirt by playing him on special teams last week so in all honestly, what the hell do you have to lose. They've been reluctant to play Feagin all year because "he's not ready" but I certainly hope to see him at least for entertainment purposes. Siller wasn't supposed to be ready either, but he was.
There's my optimism creeping back in...but back to reality. Sheridan playing means turnovers and another long long long day. The only hope is to be completely one-dimensional and hand it off to Minor every play hoping that Minnesota's defense pulls a Michigan and misses tackles all over. The O-line has been better, but still not nearly good enough for this to happen.
Advantage: Minnesota (at least play Feagin for our entertainment...please?)
Michigan finally could return the ball last week with Odoms' touchdown and a couple good kick returns by Cissoko. Michigan needs some returns for TD's this week because scoring won't be coming from the offense. Minnesota has given up a kick return TD this year, but otherwise have been solid so it won't be easy to get scores there.
Minnesota's return game is not very explosive (no TDs) but they have a solid kick returner in Troy Stoudermire averaging 25.6 a return and punt returner Marcus Sherels averaging 11.9. But Michigan has been very good in punt coverage and pretty good in kick coverage as of late. From what I've seen of Michigan and looking at Minnesota's numbers, I actually think Michigan might have a better return game at this point. But then again they have to hold onto the ball.
Zoltan and the punting unit is still #1 in the nation. But Justin Kucek for the Gophers is pretty good too averaging 41.6 a punt. Joel Monroe is a decent kicker for the Gophers this season (9-13) though he has missed two from inside 30 yards. Lopata is, as we know, meh.
I actually give the edge to Michigan here because I still want to keep some hope for whatever reason and the return game could very well be better than Minnesota now.
I really hope the team can keep some hardware this season by keeping the Jug so the seniors won't be remembered for losing everything. This senior class does not deserve to be called an underacheiving class because it does not have some of the players that earned it a top 10 recruiting class upon its arrival (more details on this for next week's preview on senior day).
Unfortunately, the defense in its current state against a pretty mistake free Minnesota offense led by a mobile QB in Weber=disaster. Unfortunately a Sheridan-led offense against the defense that has forced more turnovers than any other team in the nation this season=catastrophe. Regardless of if special teams plays well, disaster and catastrophe above should be too much to overcome.
I can't find any optimism for tomorrow as of right now. I can't believe it. Even the homer inside me understands. Its time to lower my expectations (especially with Sheridan in). I can't take anymore disappointment.
Final Score: Minnesota 27 Michigan 10
Tear. The season of disappointment continues
I hope I'm wrong but needless to say, its not looking good...
The second (and more important) thought I was left with is that your Michigan Wolverines will win 18 games this season.
...and I swear to you, I am writing this sober.
...and I swear to you, I am writing this sober.
Yes, I know it’s early and we have seen ONE game (an exhibition against a bottom-feeder in the GLIAC), but I am confident in this prediction. Here’s why:
Stu Douglass is for real: Big Ten coaches will look back 2 years from now and wonder why they hadn’t come after this kid harder when he was a high school senior. He is that good. On multiple possessions, Douglass directed traffic like a seasoned veteran and let the offense come to him. He made one or two bad passes, but the poise he showed in transition was well beyond his years. He hit threes from the parking lot and has a sniper’s touch. Crisler Arena’s “Ssstttttuuuuuuu…” chant will be heard early and often in his career.
Zach Gibson: I know you’ve hated on him. I’ve hated on him. And as much as this may shock people…and I never thought I'd say this... Zach Gibson can play!!!
I know that was jolting so I’ll give you a moment…
Gibson looked good running the floor, was 2 for 3 from behind the arch, and added two blocks to his 11 points. He looked for his shot with no signs of hesitation. In a conference where quality centers are few and far between ( MSU’s Sutton and OSU’s Mullens are the only C’s of note), it won't take much for Gibson to give consistent contribution to this team.
Manny Being Manny: Harris deferred to his teammates for much of the first half, making sure to work through the offensive sets. Because Harris (and his teammates, for that matter) were so focused on running the play all the way through, they passed up open shot after open shot and were eventually left with an empty play clock. In the second half, Beilein turned the offense loose and Manny was able to create off the dribble and in transition. If Douglass gets hot during the season, defenses will part like the Red Sea and Harris will slash his way to 17-19 points per game.
The Zone: Last year,
The Road Home: The Wolverines have a tough schedule, but can get to Jan 1st with at least 8 wins if you give them loses to Duke,
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The Michigan Men’s Basketball team will take the floor in their exhibition opener this Thursday against the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley State University (Side note: I have been to SVSU and their campus is literally the size of the Diag, or the distance from the Flagpole to the Grad. And that’s including their entire student housing complex, too. I’m not kidding. It’s that small.). Now, things haven’t exactly been great for this program in the past few years. Sure, they lost to Harvard and their former coach (Tommy Amaker) last season... Yeah, they lost to Duke by almost 40 points last year...OK, so the leading shot blocker in the Big Ten last year (Ekpe Udoh) decided to transfer to Baylor, the incoming recruiting class doesn’t have a Top 50 player, and their big foreign recruit wasn’t actually allowed to play in the NCAA.
….But you should still be excited for 4 big reasons which will have you watching and cheering (and maybe even buying tickets?!?!) by season’s end.
(And let’s get the obvious out of the way for the cynics out there: I am not going to cop-out and use the old “At least it’ll give us something to watch other than gut-wrenching
(And let’s get the obvious out of the way for the cynics out there: I am not going to cop-out and use the old “At least it’ll give us something to watch other than gut-wrenching
The Big Ten is weak and there will be parity: At Big Ten Media day, Purdue was voted the pre-season favorite with MSU and
A Star Is Born: People have ripped UM for not having a star player with NBA-type talent since Jamal Crawford. That ends this year with the emergence of Manny Harris. The
If you give them free stuff, they hopefully might come: The Men’s Basketball program has pulled out all the stops and are giving prizes to kids willing to buy tickets/attend games this season. Prizes include tickets to the OSU football games, MDen gift cards, and even free books for the semester. They are giving away just about everything but the keys to Rich Rodriguez’s car. This (in addition to a winning record through the pre-season) will hopefully bring people to the games and create an arena atmosphere that goes along with a winning program. If the Athletic Department can get 8,000 people in Crisler on a consistent basis, that will be good for at least 2 wins against one of the top four teams).
The Big House isn’t the only thing under construction: Coach Beilein is building a program. His players have not always been the most highly recruited, but they act as pieces to the puzzle that is their intricate offensive system. Beilein is big on role guys, and the guys he brought in at WVU (guys like Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey, neither who made it big in the pros) were role players but were the reasons his 2005 team made it to the Elite Eight. He has a track record that shows his ability to do great work with “adequate” talent. A winning record will give him more than his fair crack at good recruits in the state in the coming years.This year’s team will be a solid one and, if all else, an interesting one to watch. Michigan Basketball won’t return to the prominence of its teams of the 90’s overnight, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself at Crisler Arena cheering on this team in your brand new Adidas hoodie.