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J.B. Fitgerald goes Blue

Thursday, August 30, 2007 by Tim

J.B. Fitzgerald, as expected, pledged his commitment to become a Michigan Wolverine. Fitzgerald is the second linebacker recruit in the 2008 class, joining fellow New Jerseyan (Jerseyite? Jersish?) Marcus Witherspoon.

Fitzgerald, while only a four-star prospect, was the main focus of Steve Szabo's recruiting push of late (Szabo is the linebacker coach, as well as Michigan's recruiter for New Jersey). Fitagerald is the player for whom Michigan eased recruiting on such players as Steve Filer (ND) and Jon Major (still uncommitted).

At 6-3, 225, Fitzgerald is a Strongside or Middle Linebacker. More on Fitzgerald to come.

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JB Fitzgerald Announcement Set

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 by Tim

New Jersey Linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald has set his college pledge announcement for tomorrow night. Fitzgerald will announce at a press conference at his school, set to air during halftime of ESPN's Thursday Night Football game, LSU at Mississippi.

Fitzgerald, considered a four-star player by both recruiting services, has reportedly narrowed his choices to Michigan and Rutgers. All reports indicate that Michigan will be receiving good news.

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Position Preview: Special Teams

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 by Tim

Special Teams
or Lopata
WrightC. Brown

S. Brown
or Horn
C. Brown

This will be a rebuilding year for the special teams, as Michigan graduated the most prolific kicker and the most prolific kick returner in its history, in Garrett Rivas and Steve Breaston.

Kicks will be taken over (for now) by walkon Jason Gingell, with scholarship kicker Bryan Wright and fellow walkon K.C. Lopata still challenging behind him. Wright might step in to take care of extra-length field goals, as he has the largest leg of the group. He will also handle kickoff duties.

Punting will be handled by Zoltan the Magnificent, and I assume Bryan Wright would step in shall some form of kryptonite strike Mesko.

Returns will be handled by a bevy of the speedy players that Michigan employs. Johnny Sears will be the starter for punts, and Brandon Harrison will presumably team up alongside Brandon Minor (or it will be Minor and Sears) on kickoff return.

No proven talent here, probably the scariest position group for Michigan. 4/10

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Recruiting Board Update

by Tim

Tennessee OT Preston Bailey removed, as he will announce for Tennessee tomorrow. Christian Wilson moved to committed. MI LB Kenny Demens is tentatively set to announce next Tuesday.


QB 1CommitsPresumed LeansProspectsLongshots

John Weinke

Steven Threet (07)

RB 1-2Sam McGuffie

Mike Cox

Christian Wilson

OL 4-5Dann O'Neill

Trevor Robinson
Zebrie Sanders

Elliott Mealer

Kurt Wermers

Rocko Khoury

WR 2-3Darryl Stonum
Deion Walker
Michael Floyd

Jon Baldwin

Vaughn Carraway
TE 1-2Brandon Moore

Kevin Koger


DT 1-2Mike Martin

DE 1-2
Jamaar Jarrett
Nick PerryShayne Hale
LB 2-3Marcus WitherspoonJ.B. Fitzgerald Kenny Demens
Jon Major
S 1-2

Brandon SmithSpencer Adams

Will Hill
Rahim Moore
CB 1-2Boubacar CissokoMarc AnthonyRobbie GreenJ.T. Floyd

Cameron Saddler

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Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Sunday, August 26, 2007 by Tim

Defensive Backs
S. Brown



The safeties look to be the strength of this unit, and certainly are in terms of depth. Jamar Adams has all-conference potential in his senior year at the SS position. Charles Stewart, a former conerback, will back him up, and Anton Campbell has thus far been a special teams player and little else. At the free safety position, Sophomore Stevie Brown is expected to step up and take the starting job away from Brandent Englemon, who earned starts last year. The loss of Ryan Mundy to WVU will probably be addition by subtraction. Freshman Artis Chambers enrolled in the spring, and despite looking a little stiff, impressed observers. He may not redshirt this year, but instead get spot duty in addition to special teams playing time. Freshman James Rogers is tiny, and will need to be in a year of strength training before he is ready to contribute.

The corner position is still a little scary for fans who weren't impressed by Morgan Trent or Johnny Sears last year, because those two will be the starters in 2007, at least at the beginning of the year. Trent is a fast guy who is still learning the position after spending his redshirt year as a wideout. Sears looks the part, but hasn't been able to put the mental part of the game together yet. He worked this summer with some alumni of his high school, powerhouse Fresno Edison. Doug Dutch moved to the position in the spring to provide some depth, but will likely still be learning it. Freshman Troy Woolfolk is a speedster, but small for the position. He will probably not redshirt his freshman year. The other freshman, Donovan Warren, will be thrust into action, and some experts expect him to be starting by the end of the year. He was a top-top recruit, and is considered the heir apparent to the lockdown corner crown that has been worn at UM by the likes of Ty Law and Charles Woodson.

The weak link of the defense, strong at safety, but weak on the corners without players stepping up 5/10.

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Position Preview: Linebackers

by Tim

C. Graham
or Mouton
or Ezeh
or Mouton


This is a definite rebuilding year for a linebacker corps losing two of three starters. Shawn Crable is the lone returning starter, and is expected to turn in an All-conference season. He is backed up by redshirt freshmen Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh at the SAM position. Freshman Brandon Herron also plays the SAM, and will probably redshirt.

Middle linebacker will be manned by both Johnny Thompson and Obi Ezeh. Thompson is a stronger player against the run, Ezeh against the pass. Junior College transfer Austin Panter does not yet have the strength to play against the run, but will likely earn some playing time this year. Thompson was a monster in the 2005 Iowa game in David Harris's absence, but has not shown a whole lot in his other game experience. The other two players are relative unknowns.

At the weakside position, Chris Graham is expected to be the starter. Former safety Jonas Mouton, a redshirt freshman, is considered the stronger player in coverage, and may take over the starting role by the end of the year. Graham is a little guy at only 5-11, which may hold him back. Brandon Logan provides depth, and true freshman Marrell Evans will probably redshirt. In fall camp, he has looked impressive at the position, but needs a year of weight training to get up to playing size.

My completely arbitrary and meaningless rating: 5/10

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Recruiting Report: OLSM v. Cass Tech

Saturday, August 25, 2007 by Tim

Orchard Lake St. Mary's took on Detroit Cass Tech today in Orchard Lake, and a number of Michigan prospects/commits were in action. I previously took in an OLSM scrimmage, and reported on two of their prospects here. Today, Orchard Lake St. Mary's prevailed in a fairly lopsided game (the 28-6 score did not tell the whole story) where both teams tried (without much success) to run the ball much of the time. Cass Tech seemed to be the more athletic team, but not as well coached as the Eaglets.

Boubacar Cissoko Cass Tech WR/CB #2 Michigan commit '08
Cissoko was Cass Tech's do-it-all man, returning punts and kicks, playing corner on defense, and wide receiver on offense. Oh yeah, and the soccer player also handled kickoffs and punts for the technicians. In my previous experiences with Cissoko, I had been under the impression that his listed height was greater than the 5-7 he is typically reported to be. However, seeing Cissoko in action, it was obvious he was a tiny guy. As just a high school senior, it is possible that he is still growing.

On defense, Cissoko was not afraid to get physical with much bigger players, and he was frequently matched up against Dion Sims. Despite giving Sims almost a foot in height and close to 100 pounds, Cissoko showed no fear in jamming Sims off the line and downfield. Cissoko did get burned once deep, as he got his head around too late on a long pass, and due to his height, was unable to compensate. He did, however, make the tackle a couple yards shy of the endzone. As a tackler, Cissoko tends to focus on the hit, rather than wrapping up the ballcarrier. However, on the occasion that Cissoko wasn't able to get a clean shot on the carrier, he wisely used his arms to take out the legs. Cissoko chased down two sweep plays in the backfield, one of them on a shoestring tackle.

Offensively, Cissoko impressed more than I thought he would. He ran crisp routes, and when he was open, he threw his hand in the air to demand the ball. Cass Tech's QB, Thomas Gordon, only found him a couple of times as he was under pressure much of the contest. When Cissoko did get his hands on the ball, he was a breaston-like playmaker, using his quickness to get YAC. I actually liked him on offense almost as much as I did on the defensive side of the ball. Cissoko did get by a defender deep once, but Gordon overthrew him in the endzone.

On special teams, Cissoko returned a few punts and kicks, but was unable to make anything truly special happen.

William Campbell Cass Tech DT/OT #73 Michigan commit '09
William Campbell was a man amongst boys on the lines for Cass Tech. He was a healthy 6-6, 310, and had at least 4-5 inches and 30 pounds over just about everyone else he played with and against.

On Defense, Campbell played both inside and outside. He was not quick off the edge, but could easily take on blockers to make plays. He helped Cass's D-Line control the line of scrimmage (as both D-lines did on this day), holding St. Mary's to negative yardage on most plays, except when they could scrounge out 1-2 yards, though OLSM did manage to break into the secondary on a coupld occasions. Campbell showed a willingness to chase down plays from the backside, though with his speed he was unlikely to catch anyone.

I liked Campbell on offense more than I did on defense. He manned the right tackle position for Cass Tech, and showed decent technique. He finished all of his blocks, and was a whistle-to-whistle player in the trenches. At his size, he projects as a tackle at the next level, with his long(ish) arms. I wouldn't be surprised if Campbell played offense in college.

Dion Sims OLSM TE/WR/LB #8 Michigan prospect '09
I still see Sims as a TE on the next level if he stays on offense, and if he goes to defense, he would be a defensive end, as he doesn't play well with his hands, or make great reads, as a linebacker (view the previous OLSM report).

It was a wet day today, so the ball wasn't thrown around too much, even though neither team could get consistent production on the ground. I don't believe Sims was thrown to once all day, and certainly not was he was being defended by the lilliputian Cissoko.

Christian Brandt OLSM OT #77 Michigan prospect '09
Nothing new on Brandt from the last OLSM report. He looked a little more in shape, thuogh that's more likely my memory playing tricks on me, since the last time I scouted Saint Mary's was a little over a week ago. He didn't play on every down on offense. Neither offensive line had a good day, though OLSM was able to break a couple long runs.

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Fan Day Photo Album

by Tim


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Position Preview: Defensive Line

Thursday, August 23, 2007 by Tim

Defensive Line
Van BergenGallimoreKates


At Defensive end, Brandon Graham will hope to follow a less circuitous version of the Lamarr Woodley career path. The high school linebacker will likely never play that position in college, instead staying at defensive end his whole career. Graham has lost weight in the offseason, helping him maintain his speed, though he has battled minor injuries in training camp. The other side will be manned by Tim Jamison, a speedy penetrator who has been injured much of his career, which has kept him out of the starting lineup until now. He was widely considered the starter opposite Woodley last year until a freak ankle injury forced him to sit out and then take a backup role. The redshirt junior looks to finally put together a healthy season.

Backing up those two are a slew of unknowns in redshirt freshmen Greg Banks and Adam Patterson, after the dismissal of James McKinney. They will both be counted on to provide rest for the starters, as there will likely be more rotation this year to give experience to a wider range of players. True freshman Ryan Van Bergen is talented, but may sit out a year to get ready for the college game. LB Shawn Crable will step in on some passing downs.

Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor is the only returner along the defensive line, but he is a good one. Playing the nose position, he is a space-eater rather than a penetrator. He is a likely all-conference candidate. Next to him will be Will Johnson, who steps into a starting role after being a key reserve the past two years. In action last year, he impressed, and was only kept off the field by the exceptional players ahead of him.

Johnny Ferrara will back up the DTs, though he needs to work on his game fitness to be a true factor. The story is similar with Jason Kates. Freshman Marques Slocum will also factor in, as he is ineligible to redshirt after his bizarre academic sojourn to become a Wolverine (Slocum has been dinged up in fall camp with a shoulder injury, but he shouldn't be sidelined too long). There is also a chance that he could be moved to offense down the road, as he was a VHT offensive tackle as a recruit. Slocum is in good shape, and is a strong player, in the style of a shorter Alan Branch. True freshman Renaldo Sagesse will almost definitely redshirt, as Canadian recruits typically do as he will need to assimilate into the culture a bit, and learn the game as it is played here. Brett Gallimore has been shuffled around during his career, and won't likely be a factor anywhere.

With depth lacking on the edges, but strong in the middle, this unit earns a 7.5/10

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Nonconference Matchups We Won't See

by Tim

Thanks to Brian's link to College Football Resource, we have been afforded the ability to figure out some of the good non-conference games that we could have seen if not for the scourge of I-AA opponents. In the sake of bowl eligibility, money, and various other reasons, I-AA teams have been added to the schedules of many teams. To fix this, the NCAA must eliminate (or reduce) the ability of teams to schedule tomato cans.

Here are some of the non-conference matchups you won't see. When picking them, I paired teams with similar prestige levels, geographic interest, or other reasons (i.e. The Michigan-Hawaii game on Sept. 1 was going to happen, but was nixed by Hawaii's athletic department, as they are trying to sneak into the BCS this year, and didn't want to risk a loss). When all the most interesting possibilities were used, I just paired up the remaining teams, which still allows for some paycheck games (Florida-Louisiana Tech comes to mind). Obviously, matchups between two teams in the same conference were not allowed.

Aug. 30
Boise State-Louisville
Cincinnati-New Mexico State

Sept. 1
Air Force-Kentucky
Fresno St-Rice
Florida-Louisiana Tech
Maryland-Texas A&M
North Carolina-South Florida
Northwestern-Ohio U
Alabama-Ohio State

Left out:
Southern Miss

Sept. 8
Connecticut-Georgia Tech
Idaho-Northern Illinois
Illinois-Iowa St

Left out:

Sept. 15
Alabama Birmingham-Baylor
Clemson-North Carolina St
Kansas St-South Carolina
Kent St-Marshall
Oregon St-Rutgers

Sept. 22
Central Michigan-UTEP
Eastern Michigan-Tulane
Hawai`i-Western Michigan
Mississippi St-San Diego St
Missouri-Virginia Tech

Left out:
New Mexico

Sept. 29
Boston College-Oklahoma St
Bowling Green-New Mexico St
San José St-Texas Tech

Oct. 6

Oct. 20
Brigham Young-Minnesota

Nov. 24
Houston-North Texas

There are still a few weeks where there is only 1 I-AA matchup, or the two I-A teams are in the same conference, but still, this is a far more compelling schedule than the way it shakes out in the real world.

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Position Preview: Receiving Corps

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 by Tim

Receiving Corps
or Webb

Mario Manningham would have been a first-team All-American last year had he not missed three games with a knee injury, and played at less than 100% in the final four games (he had nine touchdowns in the first 6 games, and not a single one after that). He is among the top wideouts in the country. Adrian Arrington was a very good #2 man last year, to both Manningham and the departed Steve Breaston. Arrington should be in great shape this year, after running the steps of Michigan Stadium for 60 straight days to earn his way back onto the team after legal trouble off it. Greg Mathews is described as a taller Jason Avant, which means very good things for the Wolverines if he is able to get more involved in the offense this year (he had only seven receptions last season).

Behind those players are a bunch of unprovens, starting with LaTerryal Savoy, a redshirt sophomore whose status on the team is unclear after he got into legal trouble in the offseason. Freshmen Toney Clemons (a speed demon with height), J.R. Hemingway (a fast leaper who can go over the middle), and Zion Babb (an athlete who must polish his skills at the WR position) will battle for playing time. Do not be surprised if one or more of them redshirts.

Carson Butler will be allowed to return to the team after clearing up his legal troubles, though he will be punished with reduced playing time, and Mike Massey will get the majority of the starts. Chris McLaurin is a blocking tight end, and won't likely see much action in the passing game. Freshmen Steve Watson and Martell Webb will also be factors. Watson is a well-coached route runner (son of Denver Broncos WR coach), but does not look physically ready for the position. He will have to shed baby fat and put on muscle to be a player. Martell Webb will learn both the WR and TE positions, and he is physically skilled, but polished at neither spot. He is a Carson Butler-like physical specimen.

With the re-addition of Carson Butler, this unit becomes much stronger, earning a rating of 8/10

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Position Preview: Offensive Backs

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 by Tim

Offensive Backs
or Helmuth
or Brown

At the quarterback position, Chad Henne will start. He has All-American, first-round NFL potential. He is widely considered in the top couple quarterbacks in the nation (along with Brian Brohm, John David Booty, and Andre Woodson). His backup, Ryan Mallett, would start at a lot of schools in America, despite being a true freshman. David Cone is still considered a career backup type. Steve Threet will likely lead the scout team in practice, as he will redshirt during his transfer year. The quarterback position has gone from razor-thin to fairly robust in no time at all.

At running back, All-American Michael Hart will carry the load for this offense. The fifth-place Heisman vote-getter is reportedly faster then he has ever been, after working his legs during the offseason while rehabbing after minor shoulder surgery. The stable will hope to spell him more often than last year, when he carried the ball a whopping 318 times (everyone else on the team combined carried 217 times, including 47 by Chad Henne, mostly sacks). Brandon Minor will be the key backup, and the 6-0, 213 pounder definitely looks the part. He is faster and stronger than Hart, but not as elusive or tough. He will likely take over primary duties upon Hart's graduation, and must get his reps this year.

Carlos Brown has shuffled all over the place this offseason (including spending some time seeking a possible transfer), and broke his hand in fall camp. He won't contribute until the second or third week of the season, but provides a burst of speed for Michigan out of the backfield. Incoming freshman Avery Horn has impressed in fall camp as well, prompting Fred Jackson to call him the fastest RB in his 16 years at Michigan. Junior Kevin Grady tore his ACL in the spring, and will probably have to take a redshirt this fall. He was a contributor in the backfield, but had been passed by Minor during last season. mainly due to his fumbling ways. If Grady redshirts, this would give Michigan 3 junior running backs in 2008.

Fullback is the key question for Michigan in the offensive backfield. Walkon Mark Moundros and early-enrolling freshman Vince Helmuth competed in the spring, with Moundros the slight leader, though no true winner was named. Moundros is a redshirt freshman, and earned a scholarship (one year, as he is a preferred walkon, though it can be renewed on a yearly basis). Helmuth played tailback in high shcool, and though he is a workout warrior, may benefit from a redshirt year building strength if he does not win the job outright.

Andre Criswell provides depth at the fullback position, as does Quentin Patilla. However, Patilla's status is unclear, as he is involved in a legal situation off the field. If he returns to the team, he will not be likely to see much playing time.

With a lack of quality at the the FB position, and injuries creating depth issues at RB, it is hard to rate this group higher than 7/10

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Christian Wilson Commits

Monday, August 20, 2007 by Tim

PA H-Back Christian Wilson, long rumored to be a Michigan lock, has committed to become a Wolverine. Wilson is the class's 14th commitment.

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Position preview: Offensive Line

Sunday, August 19, 2007 by Tim

Offensive Line
or Schilling
or Ortmann



Changes since spring: Schifano removed from team for unspecified medical issue.

The left 3/5 of the line is as close to set in stone as it can be. Jake Long was a first-team All-American last year, and has a pretty good chance of being the first lineman taken in the 20 NFL Draft. Adam Kraus is a likely first-team All-Big Ten performer this year as well. Justin Boren seems like a future All-American, but for now he probably won't be. However, he will be in the All-Conference discussion this year.

The right side of the line is a little less firm. Alex Mitchell has struggled with his weight throughout his career, and this year is no different. He got burned a bunch of time in the Rose Bowl, though that doesn't appear to have motivated him enough. He needs to get down to a more suitable playing weight if he wants to start this year. He is a good run blocker (though with his build not perfectly suited for the zone game), but lacks in pass protection. If he cannot, redshirt freshman Steve Schilling (who would have probably started at right tackle last year if not for mono and a separated shoulder) will step in to provide a far more athletic option at the guard position. At tackle, Schilling is in the mix if Mitchell is able to earn the RG position. It is a Schilling v. Ortmann battle over there, with Schilling being the more athletic of the two. UPDATE - Mitchell has injured himself in fall camp, and will miss the first couple games. Ciulla has taken over the RG spot, and I don't see it likely that Mitchell will be able to get back into shape to reclaim his role.

The depth along the lone is good but not spectacular. Ortmann is probably the left tackle next year, so if Jake Long goes down (or is taken out in junk-time situations) Ortmann will get play over there (les likely if he starts at RT, in order to avoid injury to a starter). Tim McAvoy and provides solid-but-unspectacular depth at both guard positions. At center, Dave Moosman was close to Justin Boren in the race for the starting job, so he will be a good backup there. At right tackle, there is a host of players waiting to get their shot, including highly-recruited Corey Zirbel and Perry Dorrestein.

It's hard to rate the position entirely accurately without knowing how the right side will shake out. However, the coaches will choose the best unit they can, and it's hard to pick against 3 future NFLers on the left.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Recruiting Board Update

by Tim

Fred Smith has been removed (announced for MSU, though this one may reopen during the season). Cal DE Jamaar Jarrett has been added as a lean. He's a four-star, whose only flag is that he's a SoCal kid NOT offered by USC. A couple other housekeeping-type things are not worth noting.


QB 1CommitsPresumed LeansProspectsLongshots

John Weinke

Steven Threet (07)

RB 1-2Sam McGuffie
Christian Wilson

Mike Cox

OL 4-5Dann O'Neill

Trevor Robinson
Zebrie Sanders

Elliott Mealer

Kurt Wermers

Rocko Khoury

WR 2-3Darryl Stonum
Deion Walker
Michael Floyd

Jon Baldwin

Vaughn Carraway
TE 1-2Brandon Moore

Kevin Koger


DT 1-2Mike Martin

DE 1-2
Jamaar Jarrett
Nick PerryShayne Hale
LB 2-3Marcus WitherspoonJ.B. Fitzgerald
Jon Major
S 1-2

Brandon SmithSpencer Adams

Will Hill
Rahim Moore
CB 1-2Boubacar CissokoMarc AnthonyRobbie GreenJ.T. Floyd

Cameron Saddler


Fisher Stadium Construction Update

Saturday, August 18, 2007 by Tim

The stadium is on its way to looking like this. pix4u:

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Appalachian State Preview

by Tim

Appalachian State has won the past two Division I-AA (take that, NCAA!) National Championships, and is ranked #1 in the preseason poll for the division again this year. Last year, they played a I-A opponent in NC State, and lost 23-10.

Quarterback – Armanti Edwards didn’t start until game 3 last year, but still managed to lead his team to a national championship. He is a run-pass threat, throwing for 2,251 yards (left-handed) and running for 1,153 more. He was the national freshman of the year, so it’s surprising that he’s not on more all-american watch lists. His backup, Trey Elder, is a senior who has performed admirably when called upon (national championship game 2005), Like Edwards, he ran for about half the number of yards as he threw. He ranked 21st in I-AA in passing efficiency, at 140.7.
Running back – Senior Kevin Richardson will enter the year as a candidate for the Walter Payton Award (1-AA Heisman). He holds most of ASU’s scoring records, and has 3,455 career rushing yards (for comparison, Mike Hart has 3,770). He was a third-team all American last year. QB Armanti Edwards also carries a big part of the load running the rock. Backup Devon Moore, a sophomore, was the third leading rusher last year.
Receivers - Fast Fast Fast Wideout Dexter Jackson will step in as the team’s leading receiver (for the departed William Mayfield), and he is a deep threat, despite only being 5-10. 14 yards per reception last year, with a long of 79. RB Kevin Richardson was the team’s third-leading receiver last year, and Junior TJ Courman will also haul in his share of balls. The team lost their best tight end in Daniel Betts. App State lists about 100 Wideouts in their two-deep, and no fullnack, so a lot of players will get their time to catch a couple, including 6-3 Josh Johnson, the tallest wideout on the team.
Line - First team All-american Kerry Brown returns at the guard position, though he did miss some fall camp with a neck injury. It’s not serious enough that he won’t play, but missing practice, especially in the offensive line, can hurt cohesion. The middle three linemen are all seniors, with Brown joined by C Scott Suttle and G John Holt. The tackles are Mario Acitelli, a true sophomore who had to start most of last year because of injuries, and Jonathan Bieschke, a junior who was mostly a special teams player last year.

Corner - Jerome Touchstone “One of the fastest players in the nation,” is a true cover corner, though he won’t match up well against the Wolverines, what with being tiny and all. The 5-7 Senior was second-team all-conference last year, though he’ll be matched up againt 6-0 Mario Manningham, or one of the 6-3 options in Arrington and Mathews. His counterpart, Justin Waozeah, is not a particularly huge guy himself, measuring in at 5-10. He started every game last year, and 40 in his career.
Safety - Corey Lynch is a likely all-american candidate. The 5th-year senior has accumulated all-american honors in two previous seasons, and is the school’s all time interception leader, with 18. Titus Howard is the starter at Nickel in App State’s 4-2-5 alignment, with awesomely-named Chase Laws manning the Bandit position. All the safeties are seniors, bringing experience to the defensive backfield. Howard played in almost every game last year, though it was primarily as a special teams contributor. He had his best game against N.C. State, tallying 8 tackles and a fumble recovery. Laws was a 2006 special-teamer as well.
Linebackers - The linebackers for the Mountaineers are a French-name affair, as Pierre Banks plays on the weakside, with Jacque Roman in the middle. Both players are sophomores in their first year as starters. Banks is pretty small, measuring in at only 210 pounds. He probably won’t be a force against the run. Roman, actually engaged in a battle with incumbent Cam Speer, on the other hand, is a stout 6-1 240. Despite being a little guy at only 6-0 215, Speer will be more likely to play on passing downs. He was injured through much of 2006, but still started at the beginning of the year, before Roman beat him out.
Line - Defensive Tackle Tim Washington is the key player along the line for App. State. The junior (a high school teammate of Wolverines Brandon Herron and Troy Woolfolk) used to attend LSU, but left the team after a knee injury during his redshirt freshman year kept him off the field his first two seasons playing. He isn’t listed on the ASU two-deep yet, but there’s a reason this guy was recruited by LSU. The projected starters are all sophomores. Tackles Daniel Finnerty and Anthony Williams will be first year starters, though Williams played in short-yardage situations last year as a true freshman. End Tony Robertson played last year as a true freshman, and racked up 3.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. The other end is Gary Tharrington, who was a high-level performer last year as a redshirt freshman starter. He recorded seven tackles against N.C. State.

Special Teams
Kicker - Julian Rauch punted part-time in ’06, while serving as App. State’s kicker. He was a steady 70-71 on extra points, and a less great 10-14 on field goals, with a long of 46. The senior was first-team all-conference, and will become the Mountaineers’ all-time leading kicker this year, barring injury (he is only four points short). He went to East Carolina before transferring to App. State after a freshman year in which he did not play.
Punter - Neil Young was the starter last year, until he became too busy releasing classic rock albums (or getting injured: YOU DECIDE!), and averaged 37.6 yards on 29 punts (Rauch punted 22 times). Young will rock, roll, and serve as starting Appalachian State punter this year. Backup Adam Kassouf punted 5 times in 2006, for a crappy average of 32.4.
Returns - Senior Wide Receiver Dexter Jackson will handle returns, and ASU’s website touts him as “One of the fastest players in all of college football.” He was all-conference at the position last year.

App. State is a very good I-AA team, but a I-AA team nonetheless. They gave N.C. State a hard time last year, but N.C. State is not Michigan (they went 3-9 last year). An experience-heavy team won't be as intimidated as you might expect, so this one should be a little closer than you'd think.

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'09 Recruiting: Orchard Lake St. Mary's

Friday, August 17, 2007 by Tim

I took in the Orchard Lake St. Mary's scrimmage yesterday against Clarkston High School. The St. Mary's Eaglets feature two '09 prospects in Dion Sims and Christian Brandt.

Dion Sims - The St. Mary's roster listed him at 6'6", 235. Most reports I've seen on him list him a little shorter a 6'5", and I tend to think that those are correct. Sims's legs and ass are huge, and he definitely has the look of a college TE, rather than the WR/TE hybrid he is listed at. He lines up with his hand down on about half the offensive plays he's in the game. He had one spectacular catch, where he really had to climb the ladder to get the ball. On defense, he played SLB, but didn't show good instincts on that side of the ball in reading and reacting to plays. He looked lilke he really belongs on offense.

Christian Brandt - Though listed as the state's #18 class of '09 prospect by Allen Trieu of GoBlueWolverine, Brandt really did not look like a Division I player. Thuogh he has decent measurables for the tackle position at 6'6", 285, he did not carry his weight well at all, looking fat, rather than athletic (even offensive linemen should look athletic - look at Dann O'Neill). The only way he'd get looked at by D-I schools is if he really busted his ass to get into shape over the course of the next year. On the field, he was decent, but not dominating, like you'd expect a D-I prospect to look against much smaller opposition.

I will take in anither St. Mary's game the 25th, as they face against Boubacar Cissoko and William Campbell, along with the rest of the Detroit Cass Tech Technicians. It will be interesting to see how a short corner like Cissoko matches up against a tall wideout in Sims.

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Tim's Preseason Top 25

by Tim

  1. USC
  2. LSU
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Michigan
  5. West Virginia
  6. Virginia Tech
  7. Texas
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Lousiville
  10. Penn State
  11. Ohio State
  12. Florida
  13. Arkansas
  14. Rutgers
  15. Tennessee
  16. Nebraska
  17. UCLA
  18. Cal
  19. Florida State
  20. Georgia Tech
  21. Auburn
  22. Hawaii
  23. Oregon
  24. Iowa
  25. TCU

Hawaii is the only team in this list that doesn't play any of the others. The only first-week matchup between two of the teams is Tennessee @ Cal. In the second week, there are three more:

  • VT @ LSU
  • Oregon @ Michigan
  • TCU @ Texas

This is my personal ballot (Paul may post his later), and during the course of the year, there may be a WOLV sports Top-25 unveiled. My ballot is not a member of BlogPoll because there are too many Michigan voters in it already.

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Quentin Patilla, Robbie Thornbladh face Assault Charges

Thursday, August 16, 2007 by Tim

...and the Offseason of Infinite Pain continues.

I heard about this at the time, but didn't post about it because my only tip was one of my friends (who was there) saying "Quentin Patilla and another football player beat the hell out of some guy at Touchdown's." She didn't know who the other guy was, and I didn't find any confirmation anywhere, so I held off on it.

Neither player was listed on the fall roster. Thornbladh was a walkon, and his removal from the team means next to nothing. Patilla famously switched positions about 300 times this offseason (eventually finding himself buried at the FB position), before being (maybe) removed from the team, so losing him wouldn't hurt the team much at all, except in terms of reputation. Michigan is uncharacteristically kicking ass in the Fulmer Cup this year.

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The Stadium Atmosphere: The Cheerleaders

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 by Tim

The most comprehensive part, "The Fans," is still forthcoming. Again, feel free to speakyour mind on the matter in the comments.

Not only are many of the Michigan cheerleaders lacking in the aesthetics department, but their ability to enhance the gameday atmosphere is seemingly nonexistent. They participate in many of the songs in which the band leads the students (doing “The Claw” with their megaphones during “Temptation”), but do little else. They have cheers that nobody has ever heard, and they don’t exactly make up for their novelty with catchiness. Moreover, they seem to feel like they are working, rather than having fun at the game (which, admittedly, they are, but when it’s your job to seem excited, then you had better do it). They rarely encourage the fans to make noise on opponents’ possessions, and when they do, it’s only by holding up signs that say “NOISE” on them, or even by having signs instructing people to perform the :shudder: God Damn 3rd Down Key Play Thingy.

A sad state of affairs was exposed at the Homecoming game last year, against Northwestern. Two old men who couldn’t have been younger then 70 did a better job exciting the students for 2 quarters than the regular cheerleaders did for the rest of the year combined. Merely by showing enthusiasm, they were able to get the fans in a frenzy, despite the dismal weather. They also introduced a new generation of students to the most amazing cheer I’ve heard in my time at Michigan, the “Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Michigan Michigan” chant (of course ending with the superfluous “Hooray!”). I can only hope that enough students remember this cheer next year, allowing it to become a regular occurrence at Michigan Stadium.

Watching ESPN Classic games featuring Michigan, it is easy to see that the cheerleaders of bygone days were far more enthusiastic than today’s breed. While the flying cheerleaders (AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME)will probably never grace Michigan Stadium again (seriously, someone please put video of these guys on Youtube), that doesn’t mean that the cheerleaders can’t positively impact the gameday experience for all involved.

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Back in the Saddle

by Tim

Long time no post, sorry about that.

While I was out of town, Carlos Brown reportedly broke his hand in practice, though WOTS is that he'll be back by the beginning of the season.

Coming soon:

1) Position previews of the Michigan team
2) Appalachian State preview
3) Fisher Stadium construction update

For today, I'll leave you with part 2 of "The Stadium Atmosphere," this time relating to the cheerleaders. Are there such people as cheerleading nerds for me to piss off?


Big East v. Big Ten

Saturday, August 11, 2007 by Tim

On ESPN.com:

“Big East. The conference everybody loved to dismiss before 2006 is must-see TV this fall with three Top 25 teams (Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia) and a potential sleeper (South Florida). The league is littered with Heisman candidates (WVU's Slaton and Pat White, Louisville's Brohm and Rutgers' Rice) and great young coaches (WVU's Rich Rodriguez, Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe and Rutgers' Greg Schiano).

Big Ten. Outside of Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and reloading Ohio State, few Big Ten teams have a legitimate chance of making the postseason. Michigan State and Minnesota have new coaches, and Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern continue to struggle. No wonder people are jumping off the Big Ten bandwagon.”

-Mark Schlabach

The Big East has 3 top-twenty five teams. Very neat. The Big Ten has 4. The Big East has a sleeper in South Florida (in the “others receiving votes” in the USA Today Top 25). The Big Ten has an “other receiving votes” as well, in Iowa, as well as a legitimate sleeper in Illinois, who has been stockpiling talent under Ron Zook, and returns 19 starters, including 9 from a defense that was, if not spectacular, certainly a bright spot for the team. (36.4% teams top 25 B10, 37.5% teams top 25 BL, with no top 5, and 1 top ten to the Big Ten’s 3)

The Big East has four preseason Heisman contenders. Michigan has 3. Wisonsin has one in P.J. Hill, one of Penn State’s skill position players on offense (Morelli or the electric but as-yet disappointing Derrick Williams) could be considered a candidate. Ohio State’s Beanie Wells will receive consideration. Juice Williams from Illinois is a human highlight reel – though he’ll have to stop allowing half of those highlights be for the other team if he wants to be considered. Indiana’s Kellen Lewis is a less electric, but also less mistake-prone version of Juice, and James Hardy is likely to catch touchdown passes over many a defensive back who can’t handle his 6-8-ness. The Big Ten returns 4 first and second team all Americans (would be five if Mario Manningham wasn’t hurt for a significant portion of last year – remember, until the injury, he was a legitimate Heisman contender, not just an all-american candidate). The Big East returns two first and second teamers, along with a third teamer, Rutgers tackle Eric Foster, their only defensive name on the list.

Great coaches? Who cares if they’re young. Give me Tressel over everyone in the Big East any day. In terms of recruiting, there is no better coach in America than Ron Zook (ok, except Pete Carroll, but he has a lot more to work with). Bret Bielema, despite being an asshole, took his team to a one-loss season in his first as a head coach. Oh, did I say don’t worry about age? He’s actually the second-youngest coach in America, only to conference foe Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern.

Bowl eligibility might be little harder to come by if you face a schedule featuring four preseason top-25 teams, as well as another receiving votes, as Illinois and Michigan State must do (Minnesota and Northwestern miss only Penn State). Despite this, Illinois will probably be bowling. At least 5/11 Big Ten teams are mortal locks to go to bowls, and 2 or 3 more likely will. 4 Big East teams will be bowling, and it is unlikely that 6 make it, despite the fact that all but 2 Big East teams (Syracuse and West Virginia) play a 1-AA opponent.

Is it fair to say that the Big East is hot while the Big Ten is not? Certainly not. The real reason peopel are "jumping off the Big Ten bandwagon" is your moronic "journalism."

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Summer of Infinite Trouble Continues

Friday, August 10, 2007 by Tim

If you thought off-field incidents for Carson Butler, Chris Richards, Eugene Germany, Adrian Arrington, and rumored incidents for Mario Manningham and Johnny Sears weren't enough for the Wolverines, you're in luck! The Ann Arbor News reports that two Michigan players have been spending their time doing something other than bowling.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Obi Ezeh has been charged (and pleaded not guilty) to a charge of driving under the influence. This is the first ever trouble for Ezeh that has gotten to the public in his time as a Wolverine, and he will likely be suspended. Ezeh is the backup to Shawn Crable at the Sam position, as well as a player in the mix to gain some playing time in the middle. If suspended, his loss will be noticed, but (barring injury) not severe.

Redshirt sophomore wideout LaTerryal Savoy has been charged with indecent exposure, also (to my knowledge) his first strike. Depending on circumstances, that charge can be grounds for removal from the team, as it can imply some mental instability with the player. Regardless, Savoy was buried on the depth chart, no higher than the fourth wide receiver, and likely to be passed up by some freshmen as well. If he is suspended, it will probably not be noticed unless there is a slew of injuries.

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Fun with Removing Context

Thursday, August 09, 2007 by Paul

I feel compelled to write something about the BTN open house, but really nothing too much happened. Bill Martin wasn't there, but I don't think that is significant in any way. There were only 5 questions allowed and they were generally stupid or not pertinent.

The one question that really got a rise out the room was a little old lady who walked up to them microphone (which wasn't working, yet everyone adjusted it to their height) and asked "Do you have a number where I can call Comcast and talk to a real person?" She was immediately surrounded by reporters because she was little, old and full of spunk!

The most entertaining thing to me, mainly because I have a unique (read: bad) sense of humor was a statement Jim Delany made during his speech. He is obviously not a politician since he doesn't know how easily a quote can be taken out of context. The quote is:
We're very happy to listen, explain and advocate for an idea that we think is awful...
In real life, he finished it with "important," so he should have used the adverb instead the adjective .

Anyway, we'll try to get the media from the open house soon. Just out of curiosity, would you people out in the Internet prefer the full video or an mp3 file of the event? The whole thing is about 45 minutes. Let us know in the comments if you have a preference.

Team Photo

by Tim

Per the request of "Anonymous" (who didn't leave an e-mail address), here is a high-res version of the Media Day team photo:

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Big Ten Network Open House

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 by Tim

Not a particularly illuminating event today, especially since there was a time crunch, but some interesting information nonetheless.

Big Ten Comissioner Jim Delany was there and bitched about SEC Speed for 20 minutes before BTN President Mark Silverman took the podium and gave interesting information. Some tidbits:

  • The Big Ten Network will never show infomercials.
  • To bitch at Comcast, call 1-866-WANT-B10, and they will be able to connect you to a live human.
  • People who go to events like this don't know how the cable industry works (Why don't you just let Comcast carry it for free?).
  • BTN will have both ESPN Classic-style straight replays of games, as well as produced pieces with interviews, etc. about past games.
  • During the summer, mostly academic (i.e. University-provided but non-sports) content will be played, except, presumably, for replays of events.
Paul was also there, so he'll probably give a little more insight later. Also, audio/video from the event is forthcoming, as is a bit of video from football media day.

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Utah Scheduling Clarification

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 by Tim

As originally planned, Utah was to fill the September 20th open date on the 2008 fotball schedule. This is no longer the case. Utah will instead come to the Big House on August 30th, giving the football team a bye week on September 20th. The schedule will look like this (C&P from MgoBlue):

Aug. 30 UTAH
Sept. 6 MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Oct. 4 ILLINOIS* (Homecoming)
Oct. 11 TOLEDO
Oct. 18 at Penn State*
Nov. 1 at Purdue*
Nov. 8 at Minnesota*
Nov. 22 at Ohio State*

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Media Day Photo Gallery

by Tim

I apologize for the somewhat random order. If you want a hi-res version of any of these images, post in the comments and I'll see what I can do for you.

No snarky comments for now.

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