Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking Back at My Predictions...

This girl approves of my pre-season predictions.

It's always interesting to me to look back at my predictions from the beginning of the season.  Some were alarmingly accurate, others not so much.

A few highlights:

Leading rusher: I picked Denard Robinson to have 900 yards, which was too few yards (he has 1,163 while Fitzgerald Toussaint has 1,011) but the right guy.

Leading receiver: I picked Junior Hemingway to have 1,000 yards.  Again, the right guy but a ways off on the yardage total (he has 636).

Leading tackler: I picked Kenny Demens to have 100.  He currently has 86 and has an outside shot to get to 100 in the bowl game.

Leading sacker: I picked Roh to have 7.  This probably won't happen unless he has a monster bowl game.  Roh has 4 but Ryan Van Bergen currently has 5.

Leading interceptor: I picked Kovacs to have 3.  He only has 1.  Courtney Avery and J.T. Floyd are currently tied for the lead with 2.

Breakout offensive player: I picked Jeremy Gallon.  And while Gallon did break out this season (30 catches, 450 yards, 4 touchdowns), I think it's fair to say that Fitzgerald Toussaint had a bigger breakout.

Breakout defensive player: I picked Courtney Avery, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions and returned a fumble for a touchdown.  So that's close.  But I also mentioned Desmond Morgan in the blurb, and he earned a starting job and ranks fifth in tackles.

Most disappointing offensive player: I picked Roy Roundtree, who had over 900 yards last season but only had 18 receptions for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns this year.  I can't think of anyone else who was disappointing on offense.

Most disappointing defensive player: I picked Troy Woolfolk.  Woolfolk got a lot of hype prior to the season (from me included) because of his solid play in 2009, but I had a feeling that he would be just a guy this year.  He's currently tied for 11th in tackles and didn't have a hand in any turnovers, so I think he probably counts as most disappointing.  But he was nursing injuries for most of the season, so we didn't see the best of him, unfortunately.

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Tom Brady

"Stop asking me about my arm." - Tom Brady
After a nine week hiatus, Tom Brady "wins" this fine award for the second consecutive week. He went 24-of-34 for 361 yards with three touchdowns and zero picks on Sunday in the Patriots 38-20 downing of the Eagles. Through eleven games, Brady has thrown for a whopping 3,627 yards and 28 touchdowns with a 65.8 completion percentage. Tom Martinez, who works with Brady in the off-season, said that Brady has an arm injury that is "affecting his throws," and several major media outlets purport that "Brady doesn't look quite right." Brady denies the injury, and true or not - I think these people are looking too hard. Philadelphia WR and former Wolverine Jason Avant caught eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Mundy - who played at and graduated from Michigan and then played a year under Rich Rodruiguez at West Virginia - now backs up All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu. Against the Chiefs this week, he chalked up eleven tackles and an interception as his Steelers won a 13-9 battle to improve their record to 8-3.

Michigan vs. Ohio State Awards

Eat my dreads.

I'm going to take a slightly different tactic this week than other weeks.  Heading into the bowl game, there's no real reason to suggest personnel changes other than just for the hell of it.  If a guy is a starter now, he'll probably be starting in the bowl game.  Michigan just beat Ohio State, I'm happy, and these are all positive awards today.

Offensive MVP . . . Denard Robinson.  He was 14/17 for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. He ran the ball 26 times for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The kid was patient in the pocket, stepped up in crunch time, and seemed more decisive in the running game than he has for most of the year.  This was an easy pick.

Defensive MVP . . . Ryan Van Bergen.  Van Bergen had 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, and 1/2 a sack.  He was consistently causing trouble for quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Dan Herron, and he notched the tackle that pinned OSU to the goal line and allowed for a safety on the following play.

Offensive play of the game . . . Denard's 41-yard touchdown run.  Not only did Denard make a good read in the running game, but he also looked quicker than he has in recent weeks and made Etienne Sabino look silly.  It was electrifying to see him have success against a defense that has smothered Michigan the past few seasons.  I think that play gave the players and the fans notice that the offense was going to be explosive the entire day.

Defensive play of the game #1 . . . Blake Countess's pass breakup.  On 3rd-and-27 from their own 3-yard line, Braxton Miller launched a missile to DeVier Posey, who was streaking down the middle of the field.  Countess was trailing Posey and turned on the jets just in time to get a finger on the ball, knocking the pass down.  Even though a holding penalty in the endzone would have negated the gain, Countess didn't know that when he was making the play.  That was a potential 97-yard touchdown pass that surely would have taken some of the wind out of Michigan's sails.

Defensive play of the game #2 . . . Courtney Avery's interception.  For a nickel corner to be tied for the team lead with 2 interceptions, that's a pretty good job for Avery.  He could probably be starting for this team at one of the outside corner positions, but he's aggressive and physical in the slot and that physicality paid off.  On a last-gasp pass for Ohio State, Avery knocked down wide receiver Devin Smith and then launched himself through the air to pick off the pass.  It was 4th-and-6 so the interception wasn't much different than a simple incompletion, but it was a great play nonethelesss.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Rivals 250 Released

Terry Richardson is Rivals' #217 overall players

Yesterday Rivals released the top 100 prospects for 2012, which I detailed yesterday afternoon.

Today Rivals released the rest of the Rivals 250.

Notable movement for Michigan commits since the August re-rank:

- Joe Bolden jumped from #184 to #152

- James Ross dropped from #158 to #163

- Royce Jenkins-Stone dropped from #97 to #182

- Terry Richardson dropped from #214 to #217

Here's a look at Michigan targets from #101 to #250:

105. Dillon Lee - LB - Georgia (Alabama)
106. Cyrus Jones - ATH - Maryland
109. Ifeadi Odenigbo - DE - Ohio
120. Jordan Payton - WR - California
123. Peter Jinkens - LB - Texas (Texas)
125. LaDarrell McNeill - S - Texas (Tennessee)
127. Drae Bowles - WR - Tennessee (Tennessee)
128. Elijah Shumate - S - New Jersey
133. Ty Darlington - C - Florida (Oklahoma)
136. Bri'onte Dunn - RB - Ohio (Ohio State)
141. Javonte Magee - DE - Texas
143. Dalvin Tomlinson - DT - Texas
144. Evan Boehm - OG - Missouri
145. Zeke Pike - QB - Kentucky (Auburn)
147. Paul Thurston - OT - Colorado (Nebraska)
152. Joe Bolden - LB - Ohio (Michigan)
153. Dan Voltz - OT - Illinois (Wisconsin)
156. Sean Price - TE - Florida (South Florida)
157. Danny O'Brien - DT - Michigan (Tennessee)
159. Jarron Jones - DT - New York (Notre Dame)
160. Jaleel Johnson - DT - Illinois (Iowa)
161. Jake Rodrigues - QB - California (Oregon)
162. Camren Williams - LB - Massachusetts (Penn State)
163. James Ross - LB - Michigan (Michigan)
165. Devonte Fields - DE - Texas (TCU)
166. Michael Starts - DE - Texas (Texas Tech)
167. Matt Jones - RB - Florida (Florida)
169. Dwayne Stanford - WR - Ohio (Oregon)
172. Deontay McManus - WR - Maryland (West Virginia)
174. Kyle Dodson - OT - Ohio (Wisconsin)
176. Connor Brewer - QB - Arizona (Texas)
182. Royce Jenkins-Stone - LB - Michigan (Michigan)
183. Brock Stadnik - OT - North Carolina (South Carolina)
186. Michael Moore - DE - Maryland (Virginia)
188. Greg McMullen - DE - Ohio (Nebraska)
197. Derek Edinburgh - OT - Louisiana (LSU)
198. Adam Bisnowaty - OT - Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
202. Ken Ekanem - DE - Virginia
204. Shane Callahan - OT - Colorado (Auburn)
208. Amara Darboh - WR - Iowa
209. Martin Aiken - DE - South Carolina (Clemson)
211. Leonte Carroo - WR - New Jersey (Rutgers)
212. Latroy Pittman - WR - Florida (Florida)
213. Armani Reeves - CB - Massachusetts (Penn State)
215. Taylor Decker - OT - Ohio (Notre Dame)
217. Terry Richardson - CB - Michigan (Michigan)
227. Jody Fuller - WR - North Carolina (South Carolina)
228. Warren Ball - RB - Ohio (Ohio State)
232. Troy Hinds - DE - Utah (BYU)
235. Reginald Davis - WR - Texas (Texas Tech)
237. I'Tavius Mathers - RB - Tennessee (Mississippi)
239. Alex Kozan - OT - Colorado
242. Sheldon Day - DT - Indiana (Notre Dame)
248. Darius Powe - WR - California
249. Wes Brown - RB - Maryland

All-Big Ten Teams Announced

David Molk (#50) is the conference's best lineman

On Monday night the All-Big Ten teams were announced.

Michigan center David Molk was named the league's best offensive lineman, so congratulations to him.

Other notable Michigan honorees:

First team: David Molk, C
Second team: Taylor Lewan, OT; Mike Martin, DT
Honorable mention: Kenny Demens, LB; J.T. Floyd, CB; Kevin Koger, TE; Junior Hemingway, WR; Denard Robinson, QB; Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB; Ryan Van Bergen, DT
Sportsmanship Award: Jordan Kovacs, S

First team: None
Second team: Denard Robinson, QB; David Molk, C; Mike Martin, DT
Honorable mention: Kenny Demens, LB; J.T. Floyd, CB; Kevin Koger, TE; Jordan Kovacs, S; Taylor Lewan, OT; Craig Roh, DE; Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB; Ryan Van Bergen, DT

I find it a little strange that a team with a 10-2 record could have zero first team selections by the media and then only three on the second team, especially when David Molk was named Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy was named first team by both parties, but his season stats (23 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) are less impressive than those of Mike Martin (54 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks) and Ryan Van Bergen (41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks), not to mention several of the second team selections from other schools.  Worthy's inclusion on the first unit is kind of a joke.

And I understand Russell Wilson being chosen as the best quarterback in the league due to his great statistics, but Kirk Cousins was the second team quarterback, according to the coaches?  Cousins beat Denard Robinson in the turnover category (Cousins threw only 6 interceptions), but Cousins also only accounted for 21 total touchdowns (all passing) while Robinson had a total of 34 (18 passing, 16 rushing).  Cousins also accounted for only 2,670 yards, whereas Robinson had 3,219.  So Denard Robinson had 13 more touchdowns, 549 more yards, and produced the same overall record . . . and somehow Cousins is the better player?

Oh well.  There's always next year.  Congratulations to Michigan's outstanding football players!

Urban Meyer, Buckeye

Urban Meyer has at least one thing in common with Brady Hoke . . .

Well, the persistent rumors that had been buzzing for weeks finally came to fruition on Monday morning.  It was reported that Urban Meyer - former head coach at Bowling Green State University, Utah, and Florida - has accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State.  The fate of interim coach Luke Fickell, who went 6-6 in place of Jim Tressel, seems unclear right now.

Meyer went 17-6 in two seasons at BGSU, 22-2 in two seasons at Utah, and 65-15 in six seasons at Florida; that gives him a combined 104-23 record (nearly 82% winning percentage).  He also produced first round draft pick Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers), Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and two national championships in Gainesville (2006, 2008).

Many Michigan fans seem to be bemoaning Meyer's hiring in Columbus, as if this will instantly relegate Michigan to also-ran status.

News flash: Ohio State will be good.  How that changes the rivalry is beyond me.  The Buckeyes were good under Tressel, John Cooper, Earle Bruce, and Woody Hayes, too.  Ohio State is a good program and almost always has been.  But Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Greg Mattison have proven to be pretty good coaches, too.  And speaking of Mattison, he used to be Meyer's defensive coordinator at Florida.  So was Charlie Strong, who's now the head coach at Louisville.  Dan Mullen was his offensive coordinator, and he's the head coach at Mississippi State.  Meyer can't do it all by himself, and he'll need to hire good coordinators to get the job done.

One of those coordinators might be Fickell.  I'm not a fan of Luke Fickell, but I think he did a decent job with the hand that was dealt to him this season.  He had a freshman quarterback, star players who were suspended for large chunks of the season, and obvious distractions.  There were slip-ups here or there, but when your star quarterback, star running back, and star wide receiver miss the whole season, half the season, and most of the season, respectively, I think expectations should be lowered.  Fickell was a defensive coach for the Buckeyes prior to being elevated to head coach and he's also an Ohio State alum.  I think it would be the right thing to do for Meyer to keep Fickell on as defensive coordinator.

Meyer's hiring in Columbus will undoubtedly affect the recruiting landscape in the midwest, but not to an alarming degree.  The fact is that the state of Ohio produces tons of talent and Meyer will likely try to mine his old recruiting grounds in the south, too.  Michigan will still be able to poach some players from Ohio who could succeed in any system.  The interesting dynamic here is that now Ohio State and Michigan have flipped roles; unlike Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor and Jim Tressel in Columbus, now Brady Hoke will be recruiting pro-style players and Urban Meyer will be searching for spread-type players on offense.  Class of 2012 running back Bri'onte Dunn has already stated that he doesn't want to play in the spread offense, and Meyer did a pretty poor job of developing running backs and wide receivers, with the exception of Percy Harvin.  That opens the door for bigger backs, pro-style receivers, and pro-style quarterbacks from the state of Ohio to come to Michigan.  Conversely, dual-threat quarterbacks and slot receiver types will be more drawn to Ohio State.

It will be interesting to see how the story plays out in Columbus, where the dolts who run the university and the athletic department still seem clueless about how tarnished their program might be when the NCAA decides how to punish them.  There could be a loss of scholarships and probation, which might very well affect how quickly Meyer finds success.  But considering Meyer's achievements, he will most likely produce anywhere from a good to great program and they will be challenging for Big Ten titles for several years to come.  And that's the way it should be.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Recruit Tracker: Championship Edition

James Ross tallied 10 tackles in Orchard Lakes St. Mary's 45-7 beatdown of Mt. Pleasant to claim the D3 state title.

Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer lost their first and last game of the season on Saturday in the Division 1 state semifinal. "Defensively, I thought we played well enough to win, but we didn't make the plays we needed to offensively," said Coach Palka. Whitmer had five turnovers in the game.

Terry Richardson,
Royce Jenkins-Stone and Cass Tech literally walked over to Ford Field on Saturday and surprised many by pummeling Matt Godin and Detroit Catholic Central, 49-13, to win the Division 1 State Championship. After scoring only 6 points in each of their two previous games, Cass Tech's offense exploded against DCC for 49 points and 334 total yards. RJS had a monster game, recording seven tackles, a pick-six and a touchdown reception while rushing for 65 yards and a third touchdown. Richardson contributed with 2 tackles, a 36-yard TD grab and solid DB play. Godin had 4 tackles in the game and looked like he just saw his dog get decapitated by a semi during the post-game interview. Let me tell you something: Godin cares about winning football games. Enjoy the video below. RJS is #10, Richardson #9, Godin #62.

New Rivals 100 Released

Kyle Kalis (#67 above) got his fifth star from Rivals

The new Rivals 100 has been released.  A few Michigan commits have seen their rankings change from the last re-ranking:

- Kyle Kalis got his fifth star and moves from #22 to #21 overall

- Erik Magnuson drops from #44 to #49 overall

- Ondre Pipkins drops from #53 to #59 overall

- Royce Jenkins-Stone drops from #97 to out of the top 100

Below is a list of Michigan offerees who appear on the list:

1. Dorial Green-Beckham - WR - Missouri
2. Eddie Goldman - DT - Washington, DC
3. D.J. Humphries - OT - North Carolina (Florida)
4. Mario Edwards - DE - Texas (Florida State)
5. Darius Hamilton - DE - New Jersey
7. Shaq Thompson - S - California
8. Stefon Diggs - WR - Maryland
9. Noah Spence - DE - Pennsylvania
11. John Theus - OT - Florida (Georgia)
12. Nelson Agholor - WR - Florida
14. Andrus Peat - OT - Arizona
17. Ellis McCarthy - DT - California
18. Gunner Kiel - QB - Indiana
21. Kyle Kalis - OT - Ohio (Michigan)
22. Kyle Murphy - OT - California
25. Jordan Simmons - OG - California (USC)
27. Aziz Shittu - DT - California

28. Joshua Garnett - OG - Washington
29. Arik Armstead - DE - California
31. Keith Marshall - RB - North Carolina
34. Devin Fuller - ATH - New Jersey
36. Adolphus Washington - DE - Ohio (Ohio State)
40. Zach Banner - OT - Washington
44. Eli Harold - DE - Virginia (Virginia)
47. Durron Neal - WR - Missouri (Oklahoma)
49. Erik Magnuson - OT - California (Michigan)
51. Marcus Maye - S - Florida (Florida)
52. Tommy Schutt - DT - Illinois (Penn State)
53. D.J. Foster - ATH - Arizona
55. Jonathan Taylor - DT - Georgia (Georgia)
56. Kent Taylor - TE - Florida (Florida)
57. Yuri Wright - CB - New Jersey
58. Jabari Ruffin - LB - California (USC)
59. Ondre Pipkins - DT - Missouri (Michigan)
60. Avery Young - OT - Florida
61. Geno Smith - CB - Georgia (Alabama)
63. Zach Kline - QB - California (Cal)
64. Kendall Sanders - ATH - Texas (Oklahoma State)
65. Jordan Jenkins - DE - Georgia
68. Deon Bush - CB - Florida
72. Ronald Darby - CB - Maryland (Notre Dame)
73. Bryce Treggs - WR - California (California)
74. Tyriq McCord - DE - Florida
75. Avery Johnson - WR - Florida (LSU)
77. Dominique Wheeler - WR - Texas (Texas Tech)
78. JaQuay Williams - WR - Georgia (Auburn)
79. Chris Muller - OT - Pennsylvania (Rutgers)
81. Se'von Pittman - DE - Ohio (Michigan State)
82. Tee Shepard - CB - California (Notre Dame)
85. Brian Poole - CB - Florida (Florida)
87. Joey O'Connor - OT - Colorado
89. Raphael Kirby - LB - Georgia (Miami)
92. Vince Biegel - LB - Wisconsin (Wisconsin)
97. Taylor McNamara - TE - California
98. Derrick Woods - WR - California
100. Aaron Burbridge - WR - Michigan (Michigan State)

Wolverines in the NFL: A Team-by-Team Breakdown (Updated)

AFC East (7)
Buffalo Bills: shame
Miami Dolphins: Chad Henne, QB (on Injured Reserve); Jake Long, OL; Bill Sheridan, Inside Linebackers Coach
New England Patriots: Tom Brady, QB; Ryan Mallett, QB; Zoltan Mesko, P
New York Jets: David Harris, LB

AFC North (8)
Baltimore Ravens: Prescott Burgess, LB; Cam Cameron, Offensive Coordinator; Andy Moeller, Offensive Line Coach
Cincinnati Bengals: Leon Hall, CB
Cleveland Browns: shame
Pittsburgh Steelers: Larry Foote, LB; Ryan Mundy, S; LaMarr Woodley, OLB; Harold Goodwin, Offensive Assistant Coach

AFC South (3)
Houston Texans: Tim Jamison, DE
Indianapolis Colts: Stevie Brown, S; Morgan Trent, CB
Jacksonville Jaguars: shame
Tennessee Titans: shame
AFC West (3)
Denver Broncos: shame
Kansas City Chiefs: Steve Breaston, WR
Oakland Raiders: shame
San Diego Chargers: Jonas Mouton, LB (on Injured Reserve); Steve Schilling, OL


NFC East (6)
Dallas Cowboys: shame
New York Giants: Mario Manningham, WR; David Baas, OL; Jim Herrmann, Linbackers Coach; Jerald Ingram, Running Backs Coach
Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Graham, DE; Jason Avant, WR
Washington Redskins: shame

NFC North (5)
Chicago Bears: Mike DeBord, Tight Ends Coach
Detroit Lions: Jeff Backus, OL
Green Bay Packers: Charles Woodson, DB; Mike Trgovac, Defensive Line Coach
Minnesota Vikings: Steve Hutchinson, OL

NFC South (2)
Atlanta Falcons: shame
Carolina Panthers: shame
New Orleans Saints: Adrian Arrington, WR; Terry Malone, Tight Ends Coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: shame
NFC West (6)
Arizona Cardinals: Jay Feely, K
St. Louis Rams: James Hall, DE
San Francisco 49ers: Braylon Edwards, WR; Jonathan Goodwin, OL; Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach
Seattle Seahawks: Alan Branch, DT

Free Agents: Obi Ezeh, LB (camped with Washington); Greg Banks, DE (camped with Detroit); James Rogers, DB (camped with Denver); Donovan Warren (formerly with Detroit); Martell Webb, TE (formerly with Philadelphia); Greg Mathews, WR (formerly with St. Louis); Marlin Jackson, CB (formerly with Philadelphia), Jamar Adams, S (formerly with Philadelphia); Gabe Watson, DT (formerly with New York Giants); Carson Butler, TE (formerly with New England); Pierre Woods, LB (formerly with Buffalo); Brandon Minor, RB (formerly with Chicago)

The AFC is your conference leader, the AFC North your division leader, the Pittsburgh Steelers your team leader.

Highlights: Michigan 40, Ohio State 34

Additional Visitors for Ohio State Game

DeVeon Smith

Last week I posted the expected visitors for the Ohio State game.  In addition, the following recruits showed up in Ann Arbor on Saturday:

Nashville (TN) Montgomery Bell Academy OL Blake Bars: Bars will sign with Michigan in February.

Southfield (MI) Southfield WR Brandon Bean: Bean is a 6'2", 200 lb. prospect for 2013.  He attends the same high school as class of 2012 tight end Ron Thompson, whom Michigan offered early in the recruiting cycle.

Owensboro (KY) Apollo OT Hunter Bivin: Bivin is a 6'7", 288 lb. prospect for 2013.  Apollo is a rival of Madisonville (KY) North Hopkins, where 2012 commit Jeremy Clark played.  Bivin's only current offer is from Kentucky.

Mason (MI) Mason FB/LB Blake Cook: Cook is a 6'3", 226 lb. prospect for 2012.  He currently has zero FBS offers and could be a walk-on prospect for Michigan.

Warren (OH) Howland ATH Brendan Cope: Cope is a 6'4", 185 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently has zero FBS offers, but with that size and a reported 4.45 time in the 40, that will likely change soon.

Lansing (MI) Eastern OL Josh Crim: Crim is a 6'6", 270 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently has zero FBS offers.

Cincinnati (OH) Wyoming DT Terry Davis: Davis is a 6'4", 270 lb. prospect who's currently committed to North Carolina State.  He attends the alma mater of Michigan defensive end Jibreel Black.  Davis also has offers from Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, and South Florida, among others.

Lake Forest (IL) Lake Forest WR Bo Dever: Dever is a 6'2", 195 lb. prospect who has already committed to walk on at Michigan in 2012.

Cincinnati (OH) Moeller OG Alex Gall: Gall is a 6'5", 295 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently has zero FBS offers.

Akron (OH) St. Vincent-St. Mary WR Jordan Hargrove: Hargrove is a 5'11", 170 lb. prospect for 2013.

Traverse City (MI) West OG Connor Hayes: Hayes is a 6'3", 260 lb. prospect for 2014.

Muskegon (MI) Muskegon RB Juwan Lewis: Lewis is a 5'11", 200 lb. prospect with offers from Buffalo, Toledo, and Western Michigan.  He was hoping for a Michigan offer, but the commitment from Drake Johnson and the potential for Bri'onte Dunn to commit have presumably squashed most of that hope.

Canton (OH) Glenoak OG Steve Mathie: Mathie is a 6'5", 270 lb. prospect for 2013.  He already holds an offer from UCLA.

Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney SS Marcus McWilson: McWilson is a 6'0", 195 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently has zero FBS offers, but that will likely change in the coming months.  He attends the alma mater of former Michigan safety Ray Vinopal.

Saline (MI) Saline LS Taybor Pepper: Pepper is a 6'5", 180 lb. prospect who one "expert" considers to be the #6 high school long snapper in the country.  Michigan's starting long snapper is Tom Pomarico, who graduates after this season.  Pepper may walk on in Ann Arbor and battle with starting short snapper Jareth Glanda for snapping duties.

Kansas City (MO) Park Hill DT Ondre Pipkins: Pipkins will sign with Michigan in February.

Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice LB Jon Reschke: Reschke is a 6'2", 210 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently holds offers from Michigan State and Toledo; the Spartans are considered to be the leader, with Notre Dame somewhere close to the front, too.

Holland (MI) Holland LB Nathan Ricketts: Ricketts is a 6'3", 215 lb. prospect with offers from Central Michigan, Toledo, and Western Michigan.

Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith: Smith is a 5'11", 215 lb. prospect for 2013.  He currently has zero FBS offers, but he's the younger brother of former Wisconsin running back Lance Smith (who was booted from the Badgers a few seasons ago because of a domestic violence charge).

Holland (MI) Holland ATH Corey Willis: Willis is a 5'10", 170 lb. prospect for 2013.  He could play wide receiver or cornerback in college, but he currently has zero FBS offers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Michigan 40, Ohio State 34

Denard Robinson made people look silly on this 41-yard touchdown run.
(image via CBS)

This was Denard's best game.  Ever.  I take back all the negative things I ever said about Denard Robinson.  He's spectacular.  I want to have his children.  In all seriousness, though, the guy was 14-for-17 for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns with zero interceptions; he also carried the ball 26 times for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The only flaw in his game was the fumble (put the ball in your outside hand!), but he made throws in this game that he hasn't made consistently in his entire career - his 28-yard pass to Drew Dileo was thrown perfectly.  That was a great way to cap the regular season.

The replay official was Woody Hayes, Jr.  There was no way in hell that Fitzgerald Toussaint's touchdown run late in the fourth quarter should have been reversed.  It was called a touchdown on the field and, at worst, there was no good angle to reverse the call.  Officials are supposed to have "indisputable evidence" to overturn calls, and if it takes 10 minutes to review the play, then it's obviously disputable.  That's not the fault of the officials on the field - it's the anonymous guy in the booth.  That guy needs to be reprimanded by the league.  Anyway, that play would have put Michigan up by 9 points (presumably 10 after the extra point) with about two minutes remaining, and Ohio State only had one timeout left.  It would have taken a miracle for OSU to score 10+ points in under two minutes; all it would have taken is a little bit of luck for them to overcome the six-point deficit that resulted.  Luckily, Courtney Avery saved the day.

What happened to Michigan's defense?  I absolutely did not expect Ohio State to have that much success offensively.  I figured Braxton Miller would get a good chunk of yards by scrambling or on designed runs, and he did (16 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown).  Michigan shut down running back Dan Herron (15 carries, 37 yards, 1 touchdown).  But there were wide open receivers running all over the place, and Miller actually hit some of them nicely.  I can't even just pick on one guy - Blake Countess, J.T. Floyd, Thomas Gordon, Jordan Kovacs, and Troy Woolfolk all got beat on deep passes.  Miller finished with 14 completions in 25 attempts for 2 touchdowns and just the 1 interception at the end of the game.  I was high on Miller when Rich Rodriguez was recruiting him out of Wayne High School in Huber Heights, OH, and he's going to be tough to deal with for the next few seasons.

The game experience was awesome.  It was great weather for being the end of November.  The tailgaters and frat houses were partying hard.  (Thanks to the tailgaters who let me join them, by the way.)  I only saw one classless encounter between a Michigan fan and an Ohio State fan, and both of them were drunk and stumbling.  The only downer the entire day was that the Union hockey team was sitting near me and kept complaining that people in front of them were standing.  Usually "down in front!" is reserved for old people, but these 19- to 22-year-old kids were trying to rest their legs for this afternoon's game against the Wolverines, I guess.

Fitzgerald Toussaint made dudes look silly.  If you are one-on-one with Toussaint in open space, you might as well lay down and take a nap.  He had 20 carries for 120 yards and 1 nullified touchdown, and that was a pretty solid defense he was up against.  Between Robinson and Toussaint, Michigan had 46 carries for 290 yards.  Yowzers.

Ten wins.  I expected the offense to be pretty good, and they've put some points on the board.  I expected the defense to be solid but unspectacular, and they've been on the verge of spectacular.  Aside from giving up 34 points to a mediocre Ohio State offense, the defense has been awesome this year.  I did not expect Michigan to end up with ten wins on the season, and they still have a chance for an eleventh.  The coaches and the players have done an excellent job overall and have played with a lot of hustle and intensity.  It's been a great season, and Michigan seems to be on the upswing after a few down years.

Go Blue!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Victors

Now for a cheer they are here,

Here they come with banners flying,
In stalwart step they're nighing,
With shouts of vict'ry crying,
We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now,

Far we their praises sing
For the glory and fame they've bro't us
Loud let the bells them ring
For here they come with banners flying
Far we their praises tell
For the glory and fame they've bro't us
Loud let the bells them ring
For here they come with banners flying
Here they come, Hurrah!

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
the leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
the champions of the West!

We cheer them again
We cheer and cheer again
For Michigan, we cheer for Michigan
We cheer with might and main
We cheer, cheer, cheer
With might and main we cheer!

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
the champions of the West!

Attractive Michigan Girl of the Week: Red Wings Girl

That's an interesting color choice for fingernails.

Okay, I'm running out of pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, so you're going to have to settle for a girl wearing a Red Wings hat.  If you have other pictures of attractive Wolverines fans, send me an e-mail.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Preview: Michigan vs. Ohio State

At least she's got her looks.

Rush Offense vs. Ohio State Rush Defense
The Buckeyes are #42 in the country in rushing defense, giving up just over 130 yards/game.  Michigan is #12 in the country in rushing offense, gaining just over 230 yards/game.  Leading tackler Andrew Sweat is questionable for Saturday with an injury, so that means he'll likely play . . . but his effectiveness might be hampered a little bit.  Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is averaging almost 6.0 yards/carry in his last four games and has gone over 130 yards in three of those games.  Michigan's offensive line has not been stellar this season, but the team has been productive.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. Ohio State Pass Defense
The Wolverines are #91 in passing offense with just under 190 yards/game and quarterback Denard Robinson has thrown 14 interceptions on the season.  Meanwhile, Ohio State is #16 in passing defense, giving up almost 188 yards/game.  Defensive backs Orhrian Johnson and Bradley Roby each have three interceptions on the season.  Robinson has a tendency to throw balls into double coverage and has thrown at least one interception in nine out of the last ten games; nearly 6.4% of his passes fall into opponents' hands, the highest rate in the country.  His reads in the passing game have improved slightly in the last few weeks as offensive coordinator Al Borges has seemingly figured out what Robinson can and cannot do, but it will be an adventure.  Michigan's receivers had better be ready to play physically, because they will be challenged by an always aggressive defensive backfield.
Advantage: Ohio State

Rush Defense vs. Ohio State Rush Offense
Ohio State is #27 in overall rushing yardage, but that's largely because they have the 9th-most rushing attempts in the country; the Buckeyes run the ball 45 times a game.  Three players - quarterback Braxton Miller and running backs Carlos Hyde and Dan Herron - have more than 500 yards rushing on the season.  As a team they average only 4.47 yards/carry (compared to 5.31 for Michigan), but the return of Herron has boosted the running game a bit.  Meanwhile, Michigan has jumped from #95 in rushing defense (2010) to #40 this season.  Michigan defensive linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen have been spectacular the past couple weeks and should continue wreaking havoc on Saturday.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Ohio State Pass Offense
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller might be the worst passer in the Big Ten and has completed only 53 out of 109 passes.  The Buckeyes know he can't throw very well (yet) and they do their best to protect him through conservative playcalling.  He has thrown only three interceptions on the season, but he averages only just over 10 attempts/game.  Miller is a dangerous runner and will scramble for yards when Martin, Van Bergen, and others flush him from the pocket, but this game will be won or lost on the ground.  Tight end Jake Stoneburner has only 13 receptions on the season . . . but 7 of them have been for touchdowns.
Advantage: Michigan

Player notes
  • Players with Michigan offers include OT Mike Adams, CB Dionte Allen, DT Darryl Baldwin (3 tackles, 1 sack), DT Adam Bellamy (19 tackles, 1 sack), RB Jaamal Berry (3 carries, 7 yards), DT Michael Bennett (15 tackles, 3 sacks), C Michael Brewster, WR Corey Brown (12 receptions, 129 yards), CB Corey Brown (3 tackles), CB Christian Bryant (59 tackles, 8 pass breakups), DE Melvin Fellows, DT Garrett Goebel (30 tackles, 1 sack), LB Curtis Grant (1 tackle), CB Doran Grant (5 tackles), S Chad Hagan (2 tackles), DT Joel Hale (3 tackles), RB Jordan Hall (451 yards from scrimmage, 4 touchdowns), OT Marcus Hall, DT Johnathan Hankins (61 tackles, 3 sacks), RB Dan Herron (559 yards, 2 touchdowns), TE Jeff Heuerman, LB Scott McVey, QB Braxton Miller (762 passing yards, 595 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns), DE Steve Miller (1 tackle), OT Andrew Norwell, LB Ryan Shazier, OT J.B. Shugarts, WR Devin Smith, RB Rod Smith (116 yards, 1 touchdown), TE Jake Stoneburner (13 catches, 157 yards, 7 touchdowns), LB Andrew Sweat (68 tackles), S Ron Tanner, TE Nick Vannett
  • Starting fullback Zach Boren is supposedly the reason Justin Boren transferred from Michigan.  The story goes that Lloyd Carr promised to offer a scholarship to Zach, but when Carr retired, Rich Rodriguez didn't uphold Carr's promise . . . because Rodriguez doesn't give scholarships to fullbacks straight out of high school; Rodriguez prefers to get them through the walk-on program.  This upset Justin and his family and prompted to "family values" quote on his way out the door.

  • Michigan scraps the vast majority of pro-sets to run a spread offense
  • Denard Robinson throws the ball 16 times or less in an effort to protect the ball
  • Devin Gardner makes another appearance in a trick-play mode
  • Mike Martin destroys OSU center Mike Brewster and solidifies David Molk as the All-Big Ten center
  • Michigan 28, Ohio State 20

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ex-Wolverine Updates

Marquis Maze tries to pull away from a Georgia Southern defender.

Former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons had 3 catches for 50 yards and 1 touchdown in Colorado's 45-6 loss to UCLA on Saturday.

Former Michigan commit and current Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze had 3 catches for 44 yards in a 45-21 victory over Georgia Southern.

Former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez was hired to be Arizona's new head coach.

Former Michigan linebacker Davion Rogers had 2 tackles for Youngstown State as they lost to Missouri State by a score of 38-34.  Rogers finished the season with 45 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception for a touchdown, 2 blocked kicks, and 5 pass breakups.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Tom Brady

It's been nine weeks since Tom Brady was last named the Former Michigan Athlete of the Week. That seems like a long time for a QB on a 7-3 team who is averaging a ridiculous 327 passing yards per game with a season rating of 102.5. This week, Brady had little competition for our recognition as he passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions in the Patriots 34-3 blowout over the Chiefs. Kansas City made things difficult for Brady early in the game, sacking him twice and forcing a fumble, but two touchdown passes to TE Rob Gronkowski opened things up around halftime. Brady's Patriots now hold a two game lead in the AFC East over the Jets and Bills.

Honorable Mention: Stephen Schilling made his first career NFL start on Sunday in a 31-20 loss to the Bears. He got the starting nod due to four or five key injuries along the San Diego offensive line, but I'm sure Schilling wasn't complaining. After being drafted 201st overall in the 2011 draft, Schilling was waived by the Chargers early in the season before resigning to the practice squad several days later. The Chargers only gained 54 yards on the ground against the Bears, but Schilling and the O-line didn't give up a sack, either. His current and former teammate, second-round draft pick Jonas Mouton, has been on Injured Reserve since the third week of the season.

Recruiting Update: November 23, 2011

Sam Cooke


Lee's Summit (MO) West offensive guard Evan Boehm decommitted from his home state Missouri Tigers.  He plans to visit Auburn this coming weekend, and there's no reason to expect that Michigan will get into the mix.

Lyndhurst (OH) Brush tight end/defensive end Pharaoh Brown, who had been committed to Michigan, re-opened his recruitment by taking a visit to Oregon.

Willis (TX) Willis wide receiver Quan West has been offered by Michigan, although he's committed to Iowa State.  The 6'4", 208 lb. receiver has been committed to the Cyclones for six months. 


Cincinnati (OH) Taft wide receiver Dwayne Stanford committed to Oregon.  Stanford once sounded very interested in coming to Ann Arbor, but the 6'5", 185-pounder was seduced by being able to wear a different uniform every week for his entire career.  I can't blame a kid for wanting to go to Oregon, because they're doing pretty well for themselves.  But I don't think it's a great place for a receiver to launch an NFL career.

Cincinnati (OH) Taft defensive end Adolphus Washington committed to Ohio State.  There was a time when he supposedly had Michigan as the leader on his list, but the promise of sanctions was too much to resist.  The 6'4", 230 lb. defender had offers from Alabama, Florida, USC, and many others.

Michigan vs. Nebraska Grades: Defense

Yeah, you better pitch that ball.
(image via GreenwichTime)

I tried out something new this week.  It's still a work in progress, but I graded the defense.  The scoring formula is very similar to that of MGoBlog in that a player's score on each play can vary from a +3 all the way to a -3.  Only players who are directly involved in each play were scored, so for example, the backside corner on a sweep to the right is unlikely to be involved.  Points were added or subtracted due to good/bad reads, filling/missing assignments, and physical superiority/inferiority (i.e. getting juked is a negative, open-field tackle is a positive).

MMartin: +17 . . . Had a monster day, beat offensive linemen off snap, crushed a RB trying to block
JKovacs: +9 . . . Also had a great day, made several plays in the open field
RVanBergen: +7 . . . Made a lot of nice plays, but lost gap responsibility a couple times
KDemens: +6 . . . Played downhill nicely, made some plays in coverage too
JRyan: +5 . . . Up and down day, played physically, punished a slot receiver trying to block him
DMorgan: +3 . . . Did good job flowing to the ball, missed a couple tackles in the hole
CAvery: +2 . . . Played well when called upon, did a good job of covering flat
WCampbell: +2 . . . Hustled to crush Martinez, notched a sack, got blown off ball by double-team
TWoolfolk: +2 . . . Largely a non-factor but had a nice pass breakup
FClark: +1 . . . Athletic but raw
BBeyer: 0 . . . Average, perhaps too stiff to remain at OLB permanently
BCountess: 0 . . . Lost contain on final Nebraska touchdown, but even Urban Meyer never saw play before
JFurman: 0 . . . One good play, one bad play
DHollowell: 0 . . . One good play, one bad play
MJones: 0 . . . Just not very athletic
JVanSlyke: 0 . . . Ho-hum
JBlack: -1 . . . Looks like a future 3-tech DT, poor change-of-direction skills
NBrink: -1 . . . Overmatched
JFloyd: -1 . . . One bad beat, a couple good plays in coverage
WHeininger: -1 . . . Somewhat overmatched, got too far upfield once
CRoh: -1 . . . Needs to do better job of disengaging from blockers in run game
RTaylor: -1 . . . Beat in coverage once
QWashington: -1 . . . Mostly invisible
BHawthorne: -2 . . . Doesn't know how to wrap up ballcarriers
TGordon: -2 . . . One bad beat, otherwise not involved much
TOTAL: +43

I don't think I can overstate how awesome Mike Martin was.  Even when he wasn't making tackles, he was pressuring Martinez or screwing up the blocking scheme.  Van Bergen was pretty dominant up front, too.  Michigan fans are pretty spoiled right now, because there are two seniors up front who are taking care of business.  Next year there's bound to be a dropoff at those two positions, so enjoy these last two games.

The freshmen weren't great but weren't horrible, either.  Desmond Morgan, Frank Clark, Brennen Beyer, Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor combined for a +3 score on the day, mostly thanks to Morgan.  Brandin Hawthorne's unwillingness to wrap up when he tackles is maddening; he actually packs a punch despite being undersized, but it doesn't matter if the guy doesn't fall down.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Visitors for the Ohio State Game

Shane Morris, Bri'onte Dunn, and Dymonte Thomas were in attendance for last week's
victory against Nebraska and will be in town again for the Ohio State game.
(image via Twitter)

Fenton (MI) Fenton P Kenny Allen: A preferred walk-on who's committed to Michigan.

Terre Haute (IN) North Vigo TE Calvin Blank: Blank is a 6'4", 226 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds an offer from Toledo.

Pickerington (OH) North DE Jake Butt: Butt is a 6'6", 220 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, and UCLA.

St. Louis (MI) Ladue Horton Watkins WR Jehu Chesson: Chesson is a 6'3", 182-pounder who holds an offer from Michigan, along with several other BCS schools.

West Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic WR Amara Darboh: Darboh is a 6'2", 180 lb. prospect who will be taking his official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.  It has long been rumored that Darboh would probably commit to Michigan shortly after his official visit, so he's on commitment watch.

Chicago (IL) Simeon OT Jordan Diamond: Diamond is a 6'6", 289 lb. prospect with an impressive offer list.  His teammate Chris Bryant is a true freshman guard for the Wolverines, and Michigan held an early lead before Diamond slowed down his recruitment and visited other schools.  At this point there is no clear leader.

Canton (OH) Glenoak RB Bri'onte Dunn: Dunn is a 6'3", 215 lb. prospect who's current committed to Ohio State.  The potential sanctions in Columbus might be problematic for Dunn, who would fit in well in a power running offense.  The rumor mill suggests that the hiring of Urban Meyer would be a negative for Dunn, since Meyer doesn't have much of a track record for developing backs like him.

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison TE Devin Funchess: Funchess is committed to Michigan.

Sylvania (OH) Southview S Allen Gant: Gant is committed to Michigan.

Puyallup (WA) Puyallup OG Joshua Garnett: Garnett is a 6'5", 275 lb. prospect with offers from all over the country.  He is friendly with Michigan commit Erik Magnuson, who has been working on Garnett to get him to Ann Arbor.

Hudson (OH) Hudson LB Ben Gedeon: Gedeon is a 6'2", 215 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Tennessee.

Birmingham (MI) Seaholm OT Dan Gibbs: Gibbs is a 6'7", 320 lb. prospect with offers from Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer RB Drake Johnson: Johnson is committed to Michigan.

Shaker Heights (OH) Shake Heights WR/TE De'Niro Laster: Laster is a 6'3", 215 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Akron, Bowling Green, and Temple.

Carlsbad (CA) La Costa Canyon OT Erik Magnuson: Magnuson is committed to Michigan.

Warren (MI) De La Salle QB Shane Morris: Morris is committed to Michigan for the class of 2013.

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison DE Mario Ojemudia: Ojemudia is committed to Michigan.

Austintown (OH) Fitch DE Billy Price: Price is a 6'4", 280 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, UCLA, and West Virginia, among others.

Cincinnati (OH) Oak Hills OG Caleb Stacey: Stacey is committed to Michigan.

Crete (IL) Crete-Monet CB Anthony Standifer: Standifer is committed to Michigan.

Alliance (OH) Marlington S Dymonte Thomas: Thomas is committed to Michigan for the class of 2013.

Toledo (OH) Central Catholic S Jayme Thompson: Thompson is a 6'2", 184 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Temple.

Crete (IL) Crete-Monee WR LaQuon Treadwell: Treadwell is a 6'3", 183 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Michigan and Notre Dame.

Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman: Tuley-Tillman is a 6'7", 280 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Illinois and Indiana.

Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek CB Shaq Wiggins: Wiggins is a 5'10", 160 lb. prospect from the class of 2013.  He holds offers from Cincinnati, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wake Forest, among others.

Cincinnati (OH) Sycamore TE A.J. Williams: Williams is committed to Michigan.

*Attendees are subject to change.

Press Conference: Brady Hoke

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona Wildcat

Rich Rodriguez

Former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez has been hired as the new head coach at Arizona.  The news was announced Monday evening, and he will be introduced by the athletic director on Wednesday.  From the press release on Arizona's website:
Rodriguez carries a career college coaching record of 120-84-2 in 18 seasons, marked by Division I records of 60-26 at West Virginia from 2001-2006 and 15-22 at Michigan, where he coached from 2008-10. He began his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State from 1990-96. He has worked as a CBS Sports football analyst this year.
Rodriguez' West Virginia teams were Big East Champion four seasons - 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007, appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a loss to Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2. His 2006 club finished 11-2 after a victory over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
 I want to wish Coach Rodriguez, his family, and the Arizona Wildcats program well in the coming years.  I always felt badly for Rodriguez, his family, his colleagues, and his players when he was at Michigan.  His name was unjustly dragged through the mud by West Virginia before he even started coaching in Ann Arbor, and a lot of Michigan fans, players, alumni, and critics never gave him a chance.  Tuned-in Michigan fans knew this well before the release of John U. Bacon's book Three and Out in October, but Rodriguez was doomed from the beginning when he began work in Ann Arbor.

This is not to say that Rodriguez didn't make mistakes of his own.  He did, and those have been well documented.  The biggest mistake he made was failing to win games, and that was a direct result of hiring defensive coaches who were either incompetent or a poor fit with the rest of the staff.  When your football team is allowing 35 points a game in your third season as head coach, then something is wrong.  There was no reason to believe that the defense would have improved in 2011 and, therefore, he needed to go.

Regardless of how Rodriguez fared in Ann Arbor, he runs an offense that can work anywhere in college football.  There will be struggles in Tucson like there were at his last job, because the Wildcats are not a team prepared to play spread option football.  The roster includes purely pro-style quarterbacks, including Pennsylvanian Tom Savage, who was heavily interested in Michigan a few years ago but whose interest was not reciprocated.  Starting quarterback Nick Foles is slow-footed like Ryan Mallett, although Foles is a senior and will be gone by 2012.  The Wildcats have two quarterbacks currently committed for the class of 2012, but both are pro-style kids and I would guess that neither one will end up signing with Arizona in February.

Much like when Rodriguez came to Michigan, he will either be starting a true freshman "athlete" at quarterback (recruited out of Florida, most likely) or a pro-style kid who's ill suited to the spread option but willing to give it a go.  Furthermore, every receiver on the roster is 6'0" or taller - although there's a 5'10" kid named Jarrell Bennett (with dreadlocks, no less) who might be the Martavious Odoms of the Arizona Wildcats; the first highlight on Bennett's film is of him blocking a cornerback into the ground.

As Rodriguez mentioned in Three and Out, when a coach builds a program, there are several steps: first you lose big, then you lose close, then you win close, and then you win big.  I'll be rooting for the Wildcats to skip a couple of those steps . . . but if they don't, I'll be rooting for Rodriguez to be given enough time to hit that fourth stage.

Good luck, Coach.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Highlights: Michigan 45, Nebraska 17

Pharaoh Brown, ex-Wolverine

Pharaoh Brown

So much for making it through a recruiting cycle without losing a commitment.  Lyndhurst (OH) Brush TE/DE Pharaoh Brown (commitment post here) will no longer be attending Michigan next year.  The 6'7", 220 lb. tight end seemed slightly disgruntled and headstrong during a late-season interview in which he said that he was starting to enjoy playing offense and that he might have to talk with Michigan's coaches about switching from defense to offense.  I started to wonder about his attitude toward Michigan when I saw that interview.  Sometimes kids say things like that and laugh; Brown wasn't laughing.

Brown talked to Michigan's coaches about playing on the offensive side of the ball, and they allowed him to flip to tight end.  But apparently that wasn't good enough.  Brown took an official visit to Oregon this past weekend and, by all accounts, failed to mention it to U of M's coaching staff.  The reason?  It's a definite no-no to Brady Hoke and his staff.  Fellow class of 2012 player Terry Richardson had plans to visit elsewhere this fall, but he was talked out of it also.  Hoke believes that if a player commits to a school, he shouldn't visit elsewhere.  And if he does, then he's risking his chance to play for the Wolverines.

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Hoke's tactics here.  While I understand that he only wants players who strongly want to attend Michigan, I also believe that players should have the opportunity to explore their options.  Especially when the coaching staff is trying to get so many commits early in the recruiting cycle (for example, there are two already in the fold for February 2013), they ought to give kids a little leeway.

This is not to say that Brown should still be considered a commit by Hoke.  But in my opinion, Hoke should say, "Okay, you're clearly not committed to Michigan at this time.  Go explore your options and I hope you sign with us in February, but in the meantime, I'm not going to hold your spot and it might not be here if or when you want it."  Of course, it's entirely possible that Hoke sent that message to Brown, but the prevailing thought seems to be that Michigan will no longer be recruiting Brown.

Brown is a 4-star prospect to Rivals and 247 Sports, and a 3-star to both ESPN and Scout.  While it's disappointing to lose someone with his raw talent and skill level, his loss probably won't be an extremely damaging blow to this recruiting class.  Michigan has two other tight ends in this class (Devin Funchess, A.J. Williams) and four defensive ends (Matt Godin, Mario Ojemudia, Tom Strobel, Chris Wormley).  Meanwhile, the Wolverines have needs at defensive tackle, offensive line, wide receiver, running back, and quarterback.  With the recruiting class down from 24 to 23, this leaves five open slots to pursue guys who might have been squeezed out of the class by pure numbers, such as perhaps Jordan Diamond or Yuri Wright.  There's also the possibility that Michigan will try to pursue San Diego (CA) Westview TE Taylor McNamara, who recently re-opened his recruitment; however, considering Michigan was content with two tight ends prior to Brown's flip from defense to offense, I'm assuming they won't go hard after another tight end.

For other news on former Wolverines, check out the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia.

Michigan vs. Nebraska Awards

Jeremy Gallon hauls in a touchdown pass
(image via Rivals)

Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Jeremy Gallon/Martavious Odoms.  Gallon isn't exactly DeSean Jackson with the football in his hands, but he sure does have a way of gaining extra yards in the open field.  Whenever he catches the ball, I expect at least a couple people to miss tackles.  Odoms, on the other hand, just plays with a reckless energy that I'm going to miss next year.  He's finally getting some more time, and it's nice to see him playing more as he finishes out his career.  His 38-yard touchdown reception was a dagger.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Michael Shaw.  Shaw has the speed to get outside, but Michigan has had a hard time sealing the edge this season.  Shaw is more of a straight-ahead runner, and I don't think he's being used properly right now, because he doesn't have great vision.  I was in support of playing him more early in the season, but as Al Borges seems to go away from the I-formation as the season wears on, Shaw's talents are a bit superfluous.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . nobody.  The defense is operating at a high level right now.  There's no need to mess with success.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . nobody.  See above.

Play of the game . . . Terrence Robinson's forced fumble on the opening kick of the second half, which was recovered by Courtney Avery.  Robinson has barely played on offense this season, but he has made his presence his known on special teams.  With Michigan clinging to a 17-10 lead coming out of halftime, this particular play must have made Nebraska thing that it just wasn't their day.  The offense scored a touchdown to make it 24-10 and the game was essentially over.

MVP of the game . . . Fitzgerald Toussaint.  Toussaint had 29 carries for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns.  On a day when the offensive line struggled to create holes in the running game, Toussaint made positive plays on snaps that looked to be doomed.  I often talk about explosive plays in the running game, and Toussaint now has at least one 20+ yard rush in 6 out of 13 career games, including his 31-yard touchdown against the Cornhuskers.  Toussaint now has 891 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recruit Tracker: The Remaining Few

Royce Jenkins-Stone carries the ball against Eisenhower
(image via here)
Most Michigan recruits are done for the season, but several remain active deep in the playoffs. Here are a few notes from this weekend's action. Complete senior year statistics for the 2012 class can be found by clicking on this link.

Matt Godin and Detroit Catholic Central defeated Rockford, 23-20, in overtime and advance to the Division 1 championship game against Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone and Cass Tech. "It's time to take care of business," Godin said in a text.

Royce Jenkins-Stone scored Cass Tech's only touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run in a 6-3 victory over Eisenhower. He rushed for 84 [edit: 122] yards on 22 carries during the game. Next week, Jenkins-Stone and his team will square off against Matt Godin and DCC at Ford Field, which is less than a mile away from Cass Tech. "Everyone doubted PSL, and here we are going to states," Royce said. "We're about to show them that the PSL is ready to play."

Erik Magnuson and La Costa Canyon will begin playoff action against Westview on Friday.

Terry Richardson and the Cass Tech defense showed Eisenhower "a whole lot of defensive looks," according to Richardson, who also had a 23-yard reception in his team's 6-3 defensive-lead victory.

James Ross recorded a team-high 13 tackles as his team Orchard Lakes St. Mary's defeated Harper Creek, 14-10, to advance to the division 3 state championship game against Mount Pleasant this Saturday at Ford Field.

Tom Strobel and Mentor were defeated by Cleveland St. Ignatius, 23-17, but "walk away proudly." "You know, I think all year long we played hard," Strobel said. "We showed the whole state of Ohio who we are, and I think we made a statement."

Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer defeated Wadesworth by a score of 37-0. Wadesworth running back Jack Snowball entered the contest averaging 209 yards per game, but Wormley and Whitmer stopped Snowball's roll (I couldn't resist), slowing him to 90 yards on 30 carries. Whitmer faces Cleveland St. Ignatius in a D1 state semifinal this Saturday.

Michigan 45, Nebraska 17

"Your chances of tackling me are slim." - Fitzgerald Toussaint
(image via

Thank goodness for Fitzgerald Toussaint.  Michigan's offensive line didn't really run block worth a damn, but Toussaint consistently created a few yards - or more - out of absolutely nothing.  Chris Spielman said the words "Barry Sanders" in reference to Toussaint.  Don't get me wrong - Chris Spielman is kind of a moron - but he might know a thing or two about Barry Sanders.  Sanders was the best running back in the history of football, in my opinion, and Toussaint does have a similar ability to stop and start suddenly.  Channeling my inner Fred Jackson, Toussaint has the cutting ability and mindset of Mike Hart . . . but he's faster.  I love the way he's running the ball.

Nebraska looked awful.  Part of the reason the Cornhuskers looked awful on offense and special teams was due to Michigan's improved defense, but for the most part, they just didn't play very well.  Taylor Martinez throws like a girl and is careless with the football.  Their kick returners couldn't hold onto the football.  Seriously, two fumbled kickoff returns in the same game?  It looked like Nebraska had their returners study film of Boubacar Cissoko and Martavious Odoms circa 2008.  And it might have been an entirely different game if anyone but Nebraska's defensive tackles could catch the ball, because the receivers dropped several passes and so did their defensive backs.

Obligatory discussion of Denard Robinson.  This might have been Denard Robinson's most complete game of the year, and yet . . . it still left me wanting.  Robinson is more effective running the offense out of a spread look, and it's about time Al Borges relies mostly on the spread and only a little on his pro-style offense.  Robinson ran the ball a little better and seemed to be more  decisive, but he's still not hitting the holes as quickly as he should.  Altogether, Robinson probably left 30 or 40 yards on the field because he was trying to get out of bounds, he was tentative, etc.  As far as passing the ball goes, it was all or nothing once again.  He threw some nice passes (an out route to Hemingway, a post to Odoms for a TD, a crossing route to Gallon for a TD) and he threw a bunch of questionable ones, too (the interception to defensive tackle Terrence Moore, a post to Roy Roundtree into double coverage that was dropped by Stafford, a bomb to Roundtree that was played horribly by Dennard and should have been picked, a crossing route to Kelvin Grady that should have been picked, etc.).  He finished with 23 carries for 83 yards and 1 touchdown, which is too many carries for such little return; he also finished 11-for-18 for 180 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  Also, I really wish Robinson would learn how to pitch  the ball on the option.  Seriously, dude.  Pitch it.  I don't think you've pitched it once all year.

Obligatory discussion of J.T. Floyd.  Nebraska's one huge play was a 54-yard touchdown bomb to Brandon Kinnie, who torched Floyd so badly that all Floyd could do was grab onto Kinnie and hope for a pass interference flag.  Prior to that play, Kinnie had 19 catches for 192 yards and 0 touchdowns on the season.

William Campbell wheeeeeeeee!  It was pretty awesome to see him hustle downfield on a Taylor Martinez run and then turn Martinez into roadkill.  Campbell had a sack on Martinez, too.  Mike Martin is certainly a more disruptive force on the interior and will be missed next year, but Campbell has things going in the right direction with this coaching staff.

The commentators sucked.  I really, really hate when Chris Spielman does Michigan games.  Any commentator who openly talks trash about one of the teams on the field should be banned from commenting on the game.  I tuned in to the game to enjoy Michigan football, not hear a former Buckeye repeatedly mention how long it's been since the Wolverines beat his alma mater.  I actually like Urban Meyer's offensive philosophy and coaching decisions; he's oodles smarter than Spielman.  However, I thought he showed some ignorance when discussing Denard Robinson's strengths and weaknesses.  Especially early in the game, Meyer was touting Robinson as being excellent at the zone read play.  Robinson makes more bad reads in the option game than good ones.  Last season it looked like Robinson didn't even have the option most of the time - it seemed as if there were predetermined playcalls for whether he would hand off or keep the ball.  This year it looks like Al Borges has given Robinson more freedom to pull or keep the ball, but Robinson frequently makes the wrong choice.  I agree with Meyer that the quarterback power run bogs down the offense at times, but that's mainly because Borges and Robinson do a poor job of disguising the play.

I did not expect a 45-17 victory.  That was kind of embarrassing for Nebraska and a pleasant surprise for Michigan fans.  If Michigan's offense were clicking on all cylinders (i.e. if the offensive line could get a push), it could have easily been 59-17.  And Nebraska got a little bit lucky that Jeremy Gallon didn't field that long punt at the end of the third quarter.  Gallon could have grabbed it on the bounce but chose to let it die at the 4-yard line.  That somewhat limited Borges's playcalling and Michigan went three-and-out, giving Nebraska a chance to punch it in for their 17th point.  I'm not even being a homer when I say that blowout score of 45-17 was closer than the game actually was.  Michigan held onto the ball for over 41 minutes, while Nebraska had the ball for just over 18 minutes.  The Cornhuskers were just 3-for-13 on third down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth down attempts.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Visitors for the Nebraska Game

Bri'onte Dunn will be visiting Michigan this weekend.

Fenton (MI) Fenton P Kenny Allen: Allen is a 6'3", 175 lb. punter who has already committed to walking on at Michigan next fall.  He had a scholarship offer from Oregon State but didn't want to be called a Beaver for the rest of his life.

Cincinnati (OH) Colerain LB Joe Bolden: Bolden is a 6'2", 225 lb. middle linebacker who will enroll at Michigan in January.

Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OT Kyle Bosch: Bosch is a 6'5", 275 lb. offensive tackle from the class of 2013.  He was offered by the Wolverines a few weeks back and visited Michigan in September.

Canton (OH) Glenoak RB Bri'onte Dunn: Dunn is a 6'2", 215 lb. running back who is currently "committed" to Ohio State unless the NCAA drops a bomb on Columbus, which should  happen but you never know.  Penn State is a distant third to OSU and Michigan.  Dunn's cousin is 2013 safety Dymonte Thomas, who will also be visiting Ann Arbor this weekend.

Chelsea (MI) Chelsea RB Berkley Edwards: Edwards is a 5'8", 165 lb. running back from the class of 2013.  He's the younger brother of Braylon Edwards and the son of Stan Edwards, who played wide receiver and running back, respectively, at Michigan.  He currently has no scholarship offers.

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison TE Devin Funchess: Funchess is a 6'5", 205 lb. tight end who will be signing with Michigan in February.

Sylvania (OH) Southview S Allen Gant: Gant is a 6'2", 210 lb. safety who will be signing with Michigan in February.

Birmingham (MI) Seaholm OT Dan Gibbs: Gibbs is a 6'7", 320 lb. offensive tackle who caused me to get some angry e-mails when I mentioned him last because I stated that he wasn't a Michigan-level recruit.  According to an e-mailer who will remain anonymous, offensive line coach Darrell Funk has remained in contact with Gibbs throughout the recruiting process.  I can only assume this would be in the hopes of convincing him to walk on.

Naperville (IL) North OG Colin Goebel: Goebel is a 6'4", 275 lb. offensive guard from the class of 2013.  He's the younger cousin of Ohio State defensive tackle Garrett Goebel.  Colin has offers from Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Toledo.  He has good size but doesn't move his feet extremely well.  BCS offers are almost certainly on the way, but he'll probably have to move from his high school position (offensive tackle) to guard.

Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer RB Drake Johnson: Johnson is a 6'1", 200 lb. running back who will have to walk all the way across the street to get to Michigan Stadium.

Muskegon (MI) Muskegon RB Juwan Lewis: Lewis is a 5'11", 208 lb. fullback/tailback whose heart probably sank when Drake Johnson received his offer.  Lewis had been holding out for an offer from the Wolverines, but that probably won't happen now.  Hopefully Lewis enjoys Michigan Stadium while he can.

Grand Blanc (MI) Grand Blanc DE Luke MacLean: MacLean is a 6'3", 233 lb. defensive end from the class of 2013.  He was a high school teammate of freshman running back Justice Hayes.

Campbell (OH) Memorial DT Shaquon McWilson: McWilson is a 6'3", 290 lb. defensive tackle from the class of 2013.  Information on McWilson is scarce, but I'm guessing he's Scottish.

Toledo (OH) St. John's DE Matt Miller: Miller is a 6'5", 250 lb. defensive end from the class of 2013.  He already has an offer from Toledo, and he's the younger brother of freshman center Jack Miller.

Warren (MI) De La Salle QB Shane Morris: Morris is a 6'3", 183 lb. quarterback from the class of 2013.  He's planning to sign with Michigan in February . . . of 2013.

Cadillac (MI) Cadillac OT Riley Norman: Norman is a 6'7", 315 lb. offensive tackle from the class of 2013.  His only current offer is from Michigan State, and Norman is expected to end up in East Lansing, regardless of who else offers.

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison DE Mario Ojemudia: Ojemudia is a 6'3", 215 lb. defensive end who will sign with Michigan in February.

Warren (OH) Harding WR Jalyn Powell: Powell is a 6'1", 185 lb. athlete from the class of 2013.  He could play wide receiver, cornerback, or safety at the next level.  Harding has produced several prospects who went to Michigan, including Mario Manningham and D.J. Williamson.  Powell has not received any offers thus far, but he has excellent change-of-direction skills and knows what to do with the ball in his hands.  I would not be surprised to see Michigan offer him at some point, for either side of the ball.

Clayton (OH) Northmont LB Kaleb Ringer: Ringer is a 6'0", 219 lb. linebacker who will enroll at Michigan in January.

Cincinnati (OH) Oak Hills OG Caleb Stacey: Stacey is a 6'4", 275 lb. offensive lineman who will sign with Michigan in February.

Crete (IL) Crete-Monee CB Anthony Standifer: Standifer is a 6'1", 178 lb. cornerback who will sign with Michigan in February.

Alliance (OH) Marlington S Dymonte Thomas: Thomas is a 5'11", 167 lb. safety who will sign with Michigan in February of 2013.

Beverly Hills (MI) Country Day DT Poet Thomas: Thomas is a 6'6", 295 lb. defensive tackle from the class of 2013.  He has visited Michigan and Notre Dame up to this point but has no offers.  Based purely on his size, he's bound to get some BCS offers, but he's not an elite athlete at his position.

Toledo (OH) Central Catholic S Jayme Thompson: Thompson is a 6'2", 184 lb. safety from the class of 2013.  He visited Michigan for the Purdue game a few weeks ago.  He only has offers from a couple MAC schools and West Virginia, but unfounded rumors popped up a couple days ago that he had been offered by Michigan.  That offer might be coming soon, though.

Crete (IL) Crete-Monee WR Laquon Treadwell: Treadwell is a 6'3", 183 lb. wide receiver from the class of 2013.  His high school teammate is 2012 commit Anthony Standifer.  Treadwell has offers from both Michigan and Notre Dame, and others will be on their way.  He's been rated early as a 4-star prospect.

Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman: Tuley-Tillman is a 6'7", 280 lb. offensive tackle from the class of 2013.  He already holds offers from Illinois and Indiana.

Cincinnati (OH) Sycamore TE A.J. Williams: Williams is a 6'6", 260 lb. tight end who will sign with Michigan in February.

Akron (OH) Buchtel S Jarrod Wilson: Wilson is a 6'2", 190 lb. safety who will enroll at Michigan in January.

Video: Friday Practice before Nebraska

Friday, November 18, 2011

Preview: Michigan vs. Nebraska

Rush Offense vs. Nebraska Rush Defense
Michigan has the #11 rushing offense in the country, but Denard Robinson has been struggling to run the ball in recent weeks . . . while Fitzgerald Toussaint has picked up the slack.  For the first time in his career, Robinson has dropped below averaging 100 yards per game.  But Toussaint has 63 carries, 420 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 6.7 yard average over the last three weeks.  Nebraska gives up 161 yards a game on the ground and sits firmly in the middle of the pack at #66 in the country.  Outside linebacker Lavonte David leads the team in tackles, but all-everything defensive tackle Jared Crick is out for the year, which has opened up some more running room in the middle.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. Nebraska Pass Defense
The Cornhuskers don't have many ballhawks on defense, so it's unlikely that they will suddenly start picking off passes at an alarming rate.  They have 8 interceptions on the year . . . but Michigan's quarterbacks have combined for 14 picks.  Furthermore, Denard Robinson has thrown an interception in every game this year except for the 58-0 drubbing of Minnesota.  Nebraska is #21 in pass yardage defense, #29 in pass efficiency defense, and #86 in sacks, so they know how to cover but don't get after the quarterback that well.  They'll have a tough time tracking down Denard Robinson, but I expect Robinson's struggles to continue with throwing the ball.
Advantage: Nebraska

Rush Defense vs. Nebraska Rush Offense
The Huskers are #13 running the ball with nearly 233 yards per game.  Starting tailback Rex Burkhead has 1,072 yards on the year, 14 touchdowns, and averages 5.1 yards a carry.  Quarterback Taylor Martinez has 768 of his own rushing yards and 9 touchdowns and has lightning quick acceleration.  No real rushing threats exist beyond those two.  The Wolverines have yet to shut down a stellar tailback this season, but they are coming off an excellent performance against Illinois when the Illini averaged slightly over 1 yard a carry.  This will be the most potent rushing attack the Wolverines will see all season.
Advantage: Nebraska

Pass Defense vs. Nebraska Pass Offense
Taylor Martinez has perhaps the ugliest throwing motion in all of NCAA football.  Kenny Bell, the leading receiver for the Cornhuskers has 23 catches and for 307 yards, and six other players have 15 catches or more.  It's a balanced passing attack . . . but it's not a very good one.  The Wolverines have improved their pass coverage throughout the season and sit perched at #22 in the country, giving up 191 yards a game.  Barring some crazy events on Saturday, that number will drop even further.
Advantage: Michigan

  • Taylor Martinez takes advantage of a young defensive end/outside linebacker and breaks a big run
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint continues in his groove with 150 yards
  • Jordan Kovacs confuses Martinez into throwing him the ball
  • Michigan 31, Nebraska 28
Player notes
  • Players offered by Michigan: DE Jason Ankrah (12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack), RB Rex Burkhead, WR Khiry Cooper, DT Jay Guy, OC Tyler Moore, DE Tobi Okuyemi, DT Chase Rome (7 tackles, 1 sack), DT Kevin Williams
  • DT Todd Peat, Jr. is the older brother of Andrus Peat, a class of 2012 offensive tackle from Arizona who has visited Michigan
  • Walk-on sophomore tight end Jake Long shares a name with someone who's awesome