Friday, November 27, 2009

Poll: What position should Cullen Christian play?

Should Cullen Christian play cornerback or safety?

Cullen Christian, Wolverine

Stop reaching!
Cullen Christian, a highly rated cornerback from Pittsburgh, committed to Michigan on Tuesday night. He had long been considered a Michigan lean, although he was supposedly announcing his choice between Michigan and West Virginia. It turns out that during his press conference, he admitted that he had been a silent Michigan commit since May.

Christian is the #6 or the #3 cornerback in the country, depending on whether you prefer Rivals or Scout. Many observers also think Christian could play safety, and I used to be one of those. Christian did play free safety for Penn Hills High School this year, but that was largely because teams could throw away from him if he was on one side as a cornerback. Free safety allows your best athlete to have an impact all over the field.

But the more I've watched of Christian, the more I feel his attributes are better suited for corner. He's decently physical with jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, and despite major concerns about his 4.68 40 time that's listed on Rivals, his anticipation helps him in coverage. My biggest reservation about playing him at safety is that he doesn't seem to be a very good tackler. He has decent size at 6' and 180 pounds, but on his highlight films - which are supposed to be his best plays, naturally - his "highlight" tackles are of him diving at the feet of ballcarriers. Even when he has the opportunity for a solid tackle, he goes low. You can see in the above picture that Christian has gone down to his knees and tried (albeit successfully) to tackle the runner.

Christian does have excellent hips, and he also seems to maintain good awareness of what's going on in the backfield. Some corners are too concerned with what their receiver is doing, and some are too concerned with what the quarterback is doing. He looks like he can process both at the same time, which is important for a good cornerback.

I don't really know what Michigan cornerbacks from recent memory he plays like. When you watch his film, he almost seems to be toying with opposing receivers and quarterbacks. He never seems to be running hard, but he makes the play. As I said, he's not a very physical tackler, and a lot of Michigan corners in recent years have been solid tacklers. As far as finding a cover corner, Christian is going to be okay. But there will be moments where you tear your hair out because he misses tackles in the running game.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ohio State 21, Michigan 10

Brandon Graham was the best player on the field.

Bullet point immediate reactions:
  • Brandon Graham had a great game. He is perhaps the player from the senior class that I will miss most. He dominated his side of the line repeatedly, ending the game with a sack amongst 4 or 5 tackles for loss.
  • I really thought Brandon Minor would play, but he was in street clothes. His inside running was missed in this game, as the running game was forced to play the third- and fourth-string running backs (Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith) with Carlos Brown also limited.
  • Vincent Smith might be Michigan's running back of the future. He doesn't have the speed to be a game-breaker, but he gains yards consistently, runs tough for his size, and makes decisive cuts. I was wrong about him being unready to play this year.
  • The defense played extremely well in this game. For the most part, Michigan didn't allow the big play. They did allow the 29-yard TD by Brandon Saine, but OSU picked on walk-on DE Will Heininger on that play.
  • J.T. Floyd got picked on and was beaten a couple times. Fortunately, OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor was horribly inaccurate on the two deep balls he threw. I still maintain that Floyd's future should be at safety, but I liked the move by the coaches to move Troy Woolfolk back to safety and re-insert Floyd at cornerback. It may not have helped Michigan significantly, but it certainly didn't hurt.
  • Speaking of Pryor, I've been thinking this all season but had no reason to mention OSU sooner - why does a 6'5", 230 pound, speedy guy run like such a pansy? He runs through arm tackles, but anytime someone gets a chance to tackle him solidly, he wusses out. He either stops moving his feet and collapses into the fetal position, or he prances out of bounds. For example, when he scrambled early in the game and Steve Brown came up to pop him near the sideline, both players bounced off each other, Pryor gathered himself and had a chance to gain two more yards, and he . . . side-stepped out of bounds.
  • Tate Forcier had a horrible game. Ohio State didn't do anything too confusing defensively. Forcier just made bad reads and bad throws. And that fumble on the opening offensive series was inexcuseable. Not only did Forcier retreat into his own end zone, but then he didn't tuck the ball away when he scrambled. He's been lucky all year that his lack of ball security didn't cost him more, but it showed up in the biggest game of the year.
  • I liked the wrinkle where Denard Robinson started in the backfield, shifted to wide receiver, and ran a fly pattern. I did not like the facts that a) Forcier underthrew him and b) Denard was interfered with by the cornerback and it wasn't called. Denard was clearly being pushed while the ball was in the air, and it wasn't an instance where both players were jostling each other. That was a textbook interference call and the officials blew it.
  • I did not like the modified pistol formation. Out of shotgun, Shaw lined up as the deep back with a fullback to either side of Forcier. It led the defense to the play each time, and Michigan didn't show a play to complement it.
  • Roy Roundtree looks like he might be the next Michigan wide receiver to wear the #1 jersey.
  • For the love of all that is good, can Michigan please install the sprint counter draw? It worked against Michigan for the thousandth time over the last several years, where the shotgun QB takes the snap and rolls toward the running back, who pretends to block and then takes the handoff going in the opposite direction. Ohio State, Michigan State, Oregon, and Purdue have all torched Michigan with that play, and those are just the times I can think of off the top of my head. I have never seen Michigan run that play, but it works every time against us.
  • I will miss Brandon Minor, Brandon Graham, Greg Mathews, Mark Ortmann, David Moosman, and Steve Brown. All of these players are good to great college players, and it's disappointing that their careers coincided with such a huge reconstruction project for the program. They might have been here during a couple bad years, but they weren't the reasons for these two losing seasons.
  • Go Blue!

Visitors for Ohio State game

WR DeAnthony Arnett - Saginaw, MI (2011)
DT Richard Ash - Pahokee, FL (official)
CB Courtney Avery - Lexington, OH (commit)
RB Dillon Baxter - San Diego, CA (official)
DT Jatashun Beachum - Dallas, TX (official)
CB Cullen Christian - Pittsburgh, PA (official)
LB Trey DePriest - Springfield, OH (2011)
LB Josh Furman - Millersville, MD
CB Doran Grant - Akron, OH (2011)
CB Ryan Griffin - Ann Arbor, MI (2011)
CB Tony Grimes - Hollywood, FL (official)
P Will Hagerup - Whitefish Bay, WI (commit)
RB Demetrius Hart - Orlando, FL (2011)
CB Delonte Hollowell - Detroit, MI (2011)
WR Jeremy Jackson - Ann Arbor, MI (commit)
S Tony Jefferson - Chula Vista, CA (official)
LB Antonio Kinard - Youngstown, OH (commit)
S Rashad Knight - Jacksonville, FL (official)
WR Ricardo Miller - Ann Arbor, MI (commit)
DE Clarence Murphy - Hollywood, FL (official)
OL Christian Pace - Avon Lake, OH (commit)
DE Jordan Paskorz - Allison Park, PA (commit)
DE Donte Phillips - Mequon, WI (2011)
WR Jerald Robinson - Canton, OH (commit)
LB Marvin Robinson - Eagle Lake, FL (official, commit)
WR Kenny Shaw - Orlando, FL (official)
WR Kenny Stills - Carlsbad, CA (official)
CB Terrence Talbott - Huber Heights, OH (commit)
DT Terry Talbott - Huber Heights, OH (commit)
S Ron Tanner - Columbus, OH (2011)
S Ray Vinopal - Youngstown, OH
RB Austin White - Livonia, MI (commit)
DE Ken Wilkins - Washington, PA (commit)
CB Adrian Witty - Deerfield Beach, FL

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recruiting Roundup: Running backs

Just like quarterback, Michigan has two commitments at the running back position. One is Stephen Hopkins (Flower Mound, TX). The other is Austin White (Livonia, MI).

Hopkins is a big bruiser of a running back. His speed has been questioned by many, including me, but his yards per carry have jumped by a full two yards since his sophomore and junior years. He'll probably never be a breakaway threat, but he will be able to get downhill and get tough yards, particularly out of the I-formation.

White is a slasher who runs like Carlos Brown, but without the top-end speed. I've previously compared him to Jerome Jackson. He does make good cuts and can get upfield quickly after running laterally, so he fits this offense, but he's probably not a game-breaking runner like Michigan fans would like to see.

Due to the relative shortage of scholarships remaining, Michigan probably isn't going to take any more commitments from running backs, unless they're absolute studs.

Who fits that category? Lache Seastrunk (Temple, TX), Marcus Lattimore (Duncan, SC), Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA), and Dillon Baxter (San Diego, CA). The first two have been offered but neither is interested. Riley has mentioned interest in Michigan at various times, but he hasn't visited or made plans to do so.

Baxter is the most interesting case. He says he grew up as a Michigan fan; he knows Tate Forcier and Brennan Clay from their time in San Diego, and he's interested in attending college with them, as well as safety prospect Tony Jefferson. Baxter, Clay, and Jefferson are all taking official visits to Ann Arbor this coming weekend for the Ohio State game. Baxter is a fringe 5-star athlete who's currently committed to USC but is interested in coming to Michigan as a potential . . . quarterback. Yep, he's a high school quarterback, but his future probably lies at running back.

The remaining uncommitted prospects (Cassius McDowell, Corvin Lamb, Jamaal Jackson, Marcus Coker, Tony Jones, and Brandon Gainer) are probably going to be left out in the cold or are just planning to go elsewhere. But keep an eye on McDowell, who could be a late commit if Michigan is trying to fill up their class. Michigan has been his leader all along, but he may have missed his chance to commit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recruiting Roundup: Quarterbacks

I am a bad Michigan fan, because I have been unable to watch the last two Michigan games (Purdue and Wisconsin). It's not for a lack of desire, but our varsity football team had its regular season finale (loss) and its first round playoff game (win) the last two Saturdays, both of which were played at 1:00 p.m. It would be ridiculous of me to analyze a game based on highlights and box scores, so that's why you haven't seen write-ups for either of those games.

But as the season is winding down, so is recruiting, so I thought I'd do a series of posts outlining where we are with regards to recruiting each position. First up - quarterbacks.

Michigan currently holds two commitments at the quarterback position, Devin Gardner (Inkster, MI) and Cornelius Jones (Spartanburg, SC). Gardner ranks as the top overall quarterback to Rivals. A solid commitment, Gardner hopes to enroll in January if he can get all his academic ducks in a row. Gardner's mechanics are questionable, but his athleticism is off the charts. I used to think he was a sure-fire redshirt, but now I think it all depends on Denard Robinson. If Robinson can improve enough in the offseason to warrant staying at quarterback, then Gardner should redshirt in order to put two years between him and incumbent starter Tate Forcier. But it seems the coaches have realized that Denard isn't a competent passer at this point, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him change positions by 2011.

Cornelius Jones is a bit more of a project. In fact, recent newspaper articles from South Carolina have stated that Jones committed to Michigan as a defensive back. While I don't think that's true, it goes to show what most people think of his abilities. Whether he plays quarterback or safety at Michigan, he's probably headed for a redshirt in 2010.

The other prospects remaining on the board are Jeffrey Godfrey (Miami, FL) and Christian Green (Tampa, FL). Godfrey was considered a Michigan lean early in the process, but Michigan took two quarterbacks and Godfrey still hasn't pulled the trigger. He's another diminutive quarterback when Michigan already has two (Forcier, Robinson) on the roster. Meanwhile, Green has maintained that he wants to play wide receiver in college, and he'll probably take his talents to Florida State.

Barring any postseason coaching staff shake-ups, Michigan is done at the quarterback position. The Wolverines were still recruiting Munchie Legaux until he recently committed to Colorado, but from this point on, they'll concentrate mostly on defense.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Charles Woodson

This is how not to fumble a punt - don't let anyone touch you.

Charles Woodson had a great game for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. In a 17-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Woodson had 9 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack, and 1 interception. The interception came when Woodson dived in front of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten on the goal line.

Honorable mention:
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant had 8 receptions for 156 yards (19.5-yard average), but the Eagles lost to the San Diego Chargers. Both of those totals are career highs for Avant.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Michigan Wins or Malaria Loses

Several years ago, I started donating $10 to Nothing but Nets for my friends' birthdays. If a friend had a birthday, somebody in Africa got a mosquito net. As I've grown older and busier with my life, I've been doing a worse job of keeping track of birthdays.

I have a weird feeling that Michigan is going to beat Wisconsin tomorrow. Wisconsin is on a roll at 7-2 and Michigan is on a slide at 5-5, but I just have a feeling. And maybe my feeling is wrong, but either way, something good is going to happen.

If Michigan loses tomorrow, I'll donate $50 to Nothing but Nets. If Wisconsin loses, well . . . I'll still donate $10. I encourage any of you to donate if you're feeling generous.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Tom Brady

Nobody really had a great game this past weekend, but Tom Brady was the best, I guess. He completed 25/37 passes for 332 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception. The Patriots beat Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins, 27-17.

Honorable mention: In a 41-21 victory over the Chicago Bears, Steve Breaston had 5 catches for 66 yards and 1 TD. He also had a 25-yard rushing attempt.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Letter to Michael Williams

Dear Michael Williams,

First of all, let me thank you for how hard you work and how hard you play for the Michigan Wolverines. You came back from a tough knee injury as a true freshman, but you run hard and you work hard. And you hit hard, too. It's disappointing that the internet is crawling with so many know-it-all Michigan fans who think you're washed up, that you're just a bad football player, end of story.

When you came out of high school in 2007, I thought you were going to be a good player. You reminded me of Brandon Harrison - short and fast but a hitter. It turned out that the Michigan staff thought the same thing. You were to be groomed as the heir to Harrison, a slot cornerback. You would learn to blitz off the edge, cover slot receivers, force sweeps back to the inside, stuff like that. You were perfect for that position. Then the knee injury happened and you redshirted as a freshman. There's no shame in that.

Then at the end of 2007, Lloyd Carr retired. Rich Rodriguez came in to be the head coach, and he hired a guy named Scott Shafer, a young guy who had success at lower-tier programs. Shafer had plans on using you a little bit differently for the 2008 season. He still used you like Harrison, but by then, Harrison had been switched to strong safety. You had 18 tackles and a sack as a backup strong safety. That's a pretty good year for a backup safety.

But the whole Shafer thing didn't work out. He was fired after an abysmal year, and Rich Rodriguez hired Greg Robinson for 2009. Now here's a coach with a track record. He coached the Denver Broncos defense to a couple Super Bowls, coordinated for the Kansas City Chiefs. This guy clearly knows what he's doing. He worked with you a little bit and figured you'd be perfect for free safety. In his defense, the free safety plays almost like a weakside outside linebacker. This was perfect for you, too - you would be free to make plays in the running game without having to take on too many lead blockers. But then you got dinged up against Notre Dame and Jordan Kovacs took your job for a little bit.

Then came the Iowa game on October 10, 2009. Your buddy Boubacar Cissoko got suspended for the game, which meant the coaches would have to switch the starting strong safety, Troy Woolfolk, to cornerback. But you were a trooper when the coaches said you would have to take Woolfolk's spot as the deep safety. (It was either you or Kovacs, and let's be honest, Kovacs is about as fast as Johnny Thompson.) Of course, Iowa has some pretty good coaches, and they noticed that you were a newbie back there at safety. I mean, when was the last time you played a deep third? In high school when you played free safety? Anyway, the Hawkeyes took advantage of you for one big play, in particular. And then the fan base jumped all over you.

In the Illinois game, you were back to playing close to the line of scrimmage. And I have to admit, you didn't play well. You might have made 17 tackles, but Juice Williams had his way with you. You didn't keep outside contain on the QB, and that gave the Illini some big chunks of yardage. But you know that, right? I mean, I'm sure the coaches didn't have to tell you that you screwed up for you to realize it.

Since the Iowa game, fans have been all over you. You've been yo-yoing back and forth between FS and SS, and the coaches have been trying to figure out which position suits you best. The truth is, you're probably not ready to play. At a lot of schools, you'd probably be sprinting down the field on special teams and standing on the sideline when the defense is on the field.

But these fans, they want perfection. See, when they were 18 and got a job at McDonald's running the cash register, they messed up an order one time. So they immediately got fired and put on the fryer. But on their second day with the fryer, they left the fries in for too long and got moved to sweeping the floors. And they did just fine with that. And that's how they learned that the only way to improve isn't by repetition - it's by being fired from job after job until they find one that they're actually smart enough to do.

I hope you caught on to my sarcasm, because I realize that it must be tough for you. You've played four different positions for three different defensive coordinators and two different position coaches in three years. I want you to perform well, and I get frustrated when you don't. But most of the people who attack you and say you're washed up, they don't understand. They figure that if Greg Robinson plugged you in at middle linebacker or punter, you could be good at those positions within a week. But the smart ones know better. Listen to the smart ones.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Eligibility Count for 2009: 71

Most recent updates:

CB Boubacar Cissoko was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

CB Adrian Witty did not qualify academically. He must attend prep school or improve his test scores, but his Letter of Intent is no longer binding to Michigan.

LB Marell Evans is no longer on the team.

DT Vince Helmuth is no longer on the team.

WR Justin Feagin was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

OL Dann O'Neill is no longer on the team.

OL Kurt Wermers is no longer on the team.

Walk-ons have been added. Scholarship players are now in yellow.

WR Toney Clemons has decided to transfer.

DL Adam Patterson received a medical redshirt for 2008 and will have junior eligibility in 2009.

DL Andre Criswell will not return for a fifth year.

5TH YEAR SENIORS = 6 (Final season 2009)
RB Kevin Grady
WR Laterryal Savoy
OG Tim McAvoy
OG David Moosman
OT Mark Ortmann
P Zoltan Mesko
DE Tim North
DE Lawrence Perry
LB Ohene Opong-Owusu
K Jason Olesnavage
SR Ricky Reyes

SENIORS = 5 (Final season 2009)
RB Carlos Brown
RB Brandon Minor
WR Greg Mathews
DE Brandon Graham
LB Steve Brown

WR Zac Baker

REDSHIRT JUNIORS = 10 (Final season 2010)
QB David Cone
FB Mark Moundros
OT Perry Dorrestein
OG John Ferrara
OG Steve Schilling
DT Greg Banks
DE Adam Patterson
LB Obi Ezeh
LB Jonas Mouton

K Bryan Wright
WR Jon Conover
RB Benjamin Sutton
TE Mike Therman
OT Bryant Nowicki
S Nick Koenigsknecht
P Nick Berry

JUNIORS = 5 (Final season 2010)
TE Martell Webb
DT Renaldo Sagesse

CB James Rogers
CB Donovan Warren
FS Troy Woolfolk

REDSHIRT SOPHOMORES = 7 (Final season 2011)
WR Junior Hemingway
WR Kelvin Grady
OT Mark Huyge
OC David Molk
DT Ryan Van Bergen

OLB Steve Watson
OLB Brandon Herron
FS Michael Williams

FB John McColgan
TE Jon Bills
OG Zac Ciullo
LS Tom Pomarico
DE Will Heininger
DT Dominique Ware
LB Rushdi Furrha
LB Kevin Leach
CB Tony Anderson
S Zach Johnson
S Doug Rogan
S Karl Tech
S Jared Van Slyke
S Jordan Reilly
K Scott Schrimscher

SOPHOMORES = 6 (Final season 2011)
RB Michael Shaw
SR Martavious Odoms
WR Darryl Stonum
TE Kevin Koger
DT Mike Martin
LB J.B. Fitzgerald

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN = 11 (Final season 2011)
RB Mike Cox
SR Roy Roundtree
SR Terrence Robinson
TE Brandon Moore
OG Ricky Barnum
OC Rocko Khoury
OG Elliott Mealer
OT Patrick Omameh

LB Kenny Demens
LB Brandon Smith
CB J.T. Floyd

QB Jack Kennedy
WR Patrick Collins
WR Elias Kos
OC George Morales
LB Paul Gyarmati
S Matt Cavanaugh
S Jordan Kovacs
S Floyd Simmons

FRESHMEN = 21 (Final season 2012)
QB Tate Forcier
QB Denard Robinson
RB Vincent Smith
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
SR Jeremy Gallon
WR Cameron Gordon
WR Je'Ron Stokes
OT Taylor Lewan
OT Michael Schofield
OG Quinton Washington
DE Anthony Lalota
DT William Campbell

OLB Craig Roh
LB Isaiah Bell
LB Brandin Hawthorne
LB Mike Jones

CB Teric Jones
CB Justin Turner
SS Vladimir Emilien
FS Thomas Gordon
K Brendan Gibbons

QB Nader Furrha
RB O'Neil Swanson
FB Jonny Childers
SR Jordan Owens
WR Joe Reynolds
OL Adam Barker
OL Christian Brandt
OL Jareth Glanda
OL Erik Gunderson
OL Tom Lindley
DE Nathan Brink
CB Al Backey
LS Kurt Graman
K Seth Broekhuizen
K Eddie Murray
K Kris Pauloski

It is assumed that players who did not play more than three games in any year were/will be granted one redshirt year. For example, David Cone did not play as a true freshman, so he is counted as a redshirt junior, even though he may not be granted a fifth year of eligibility for 2010. Also, former walk-ons who are given one-year scholarships (such as Kevin Leach) are not counted on the scholarship list, since coaches will give that scholarship to an incoming player if possible.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scouting Report: Josh Furman, LB - Millersville, MD

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 194 lbs.
Position: Linebacker
Jersey number: #2
School: Old Mill High School in Millersville, MD
40 Yard Dash: 4.36 seconds (reported)

Notes: Holds offers from Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, among others . . . His father, Tyrone, played defensive tackle for Maryland . . . 87 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 2 blocked punts as a junior on defense . . . 105 carries, 796 yards, 14 TDs as a junior on offense . . . Plays RB and LB in high school . . . 3-star recruit and #28 athlete on Rivals . . . 4-star recruit and #20 safety on Scout

Scouting report: Shows very good straight-line speed . . . Frame could easily hold another 25-30 pounds . . . Uses speed well when blitzing off the edge . . . High-motor player who makes plays even when he's seemingly out of them . . . Running technique is excellent as his leg drive and upper body synchronize well . . . Tends to be undisciplined regarding his gap responsibility . . . Does a poor job of using his hands to disengage from blockers . . . Not a big hitter, more of a grabber . . . Does not bring his feet with him when he tackles . . . Too stiff in the hips to play defensive back at the college level

Projection: Although smaller in stature, Furman reminds me a bit of Shawn Crable. He's long and lean with good speed and a good motor, but he's extremely raw. Michigan would probably slot him in the WILL position, as Furman could play at 220-225 lbs. without sacrificing too much speed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Braylon Edwards

New York Jet Braylon Edwards had a decent game in a losing effort on Sunday. His stats weren't overwhelming (4 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD), but his touchdown catch was highlight-reel worthy. Against the Dolphins, Edwards caught a ball at the 1-yard line with a defender draped on his back. He planted his feet and, in a struggle that seemed never-ending, eventually forced himself and the ball across the goal line.

Honorable mention: Jay Feely, also playing for the Jets, hit two field goals and one extra point. Two field goals aren't normally that noteworthy, but one was from 55 yards.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Carvin Johnson, Wolverine

Carvin Johnson, a safety from Metairie, LA, has committed to play at Michigan. Johnson was recruited by running backs coach Fred Jackson and officially visited for the Penn State game on October 24th.

I don't know a lot about Johnson. He was offered back in August, but his name didn't really pop up anywhere. He's unranked by Rivals and when I went to Archbishop Rummel High School's athletics page, it went straight to a fundraising page without offering any information on statistics or records.

From what I've read, Johnson was recruited as a safety and will probably play the weak safety position inhabited mostly by Jordan Kovacs at this time. He's 6'1" and 195 lbs. and supposedly a big hitter, which seems to fit the mold of that position.

Johnson is Michigan's 20th commitment in the 2010 class, which edges the Wolverines closer to the normal 25-scholarship limit. However, due to mass amounts of attrition, Michigan could sign a few January early enrollees back to the 2009 class, giving the program perhaps 28 scholarships to give. Michigan still needs at least one inside linebacker to go along with a few more defensive backs, an offensive lineman or two, and perhaps a tight end.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Illinois 38, Michigan 13

Carlos Brown taken down on first contact? Inconceivable!
Nope...wait a minute...yeah, that's conceivable.

This was a day that will go down in history as . . . a loss to Illinois.

What I learned from Saturday was that Rich Rodriguez is not the savior of the Michigan program. He is not a genius who can make lemonade out of . . . I don't know . . . used bicycle tires. He is a football coach who has huge flaws, especially when his team has huge flaws itself.

Illinois was a 1-win football team before Saturday, and that win didn't even come against an FBS school. They beat the winningest program in college football history, and it wasn't even close. Michigan's inexperienced and untalented defense gave up 500 yards total, 377 of which came on the ground. Illinois had not one 100-yard rusher, but two (running backs Micheal Leshoure and Jason Ford) . . . and that's not counting the 97 yards rushing from their nearly-benched starting quarterback, Juice Williams.

In last week's game against Penn State, the offense seemed to blame. They consistently failed to give Michigan's defense a chance. This week both sides of the ball seem to have regressed from earlier in the year. Michigan continues to turn the ball over on offense (3 fumbles) while failing to get turnovers on defense (uhhh . . . 0 fumbles, 0 interceptions). Prior to Saturday's game, Michigan was 105th in the country. I'm assuming they're even lower now, although I refuse to look up the stats.

I have to admit that I turned off the game with a few minutes left in the third quarter. I'm usually very calm when watching games on TV, but when free safety Mike Williams lost contain on Juice Williams for about the tenth time on the zone read option, I screamed "Stop doing that!" at the TV. I figured that meant I had had enough, so I shut it off. Mike Williams goes full speed all the time. Unfortunately, he's often aimed in the wrong direction, despite racking up 16 tackles. Other leading tacklers this year include walk-on safety Jordan Kovacs and walk-on linebacker Kevin Leach, so when safeties and/or slow, undersized quasi-linebackers are notching the majority of your takedowns, something is wrong.

Speaking of something horribly wrong . . . 38-13. Against a one-win team. A one-win team that led by a score of only 14-13 at halftime.

Offensive game ball goes to...Roy Roundtree? Sure. I guess. I don't know. The offense only mustered one touchdown and two field goals against a bad defense. Choices are slim.

Defensive game ball goes to...Brandon Graham. Seven tackles, one sack, one blocked punt.

Let's see less of this guy on offense...Carlos Brown. I can't believe Rich Rodriguez left Brown in on the goal line. That was the most ridiculous coaching decision from yesterday. Brown is fast, but he hasn't broken a tackle since that one time in his freshman year when he was playing Madden and hit the truck stick. If Minor is healthy enough to come in on fourth down, he's healthy enough to come in on first down. And if he's not? Put Moundros in at fullback and Kevin Grady at tailback. Hell, put John McColgan in at fullback with Grady at tailback. Put Vincent Smith or Michael Shaw at tailback. Brown pussy-footed his way into the hole on 3rd down (maybe 2nd down) and I let out a loud sigh. That whole set of downs was asinine.

Let's see less of this guy on defense...Michael Williams. I'm sorry for predicting that he would/should start at safety prior to the season. I thought he was better than this. He's not. He was single-handedly responsible for Juice Williams's rushing TD and about 50 more of Juice's yards. My high schoolers can defend the zone read option better than he did. Put Troy Woolfolk back at strong safety, move Kovacs to free safety, and plug J.T. Floyd back in at cornerback. I'd rather have a bad cornerback than a bad safety.