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Michigan will be bowling in Orlando

Friday, November 30, 2007 by Tim

As many experts predicted, Michigan's bowl game for this season will be played in Orlando - though it's not yet clear which Sunshine State bowl will feature the Wolverines. The Capital One Bowl, on January 1st, and the Champs Sports Bowl, played on December 28th, are Michigan's two options. How did it get here?

Illinois and Michigan tied for second in the Big Ten, with Wisconsin in fourth, and Penn State tied with Iowa for fifth. The Big Ten's bowl tie-ins (in order, excluding BCS bowls, which have first choice) are: Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, and Motor City (with a host of eligible teams, a Big Ten team may also garner an at-large bid to another bowl). With Michigan tied for second, it would follow that they would likely be selected to either the Capital One or Outback Bowl.

However, Wisconsin has already accepted a bid to the Outback Bowl, and Penn State has done the same with the Alamo. This leaves Illinois and Michigan alone near the top of the Big Ten standings, with the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls between them. Illinois will be selected before Michigan, but that selection may in fact be for an at-large BCS bid, allowing Michigan to get into the Capital One Bowl. However, if the BCS does not select Illinois, Michigan will be left to the Champs Sports Bowl. This means that Michigan fans should be rooting for Illinois to make it into the BCS.

What has to happen for the Illini to get their first such bid since 2001? Let's examine the current BCS situation. There are 5 BCS bowls, meaning ten bids. BCS conferences all have a minimum of one (conference champion) and a maximum of two (conference champion plus one at-large) teams that will go to the BCS. At large bids are available to teams in the top 18 of the BCS rankings.
1. Missouri 11-1
2. West Virginia 10-1
3. Ohio State 11-1
4. Georgia 10-2
5. Kansas 11-1
6. Virginia Tech 10-2
7. LSU 10-2
8. USC 9-2
9. Oklahoma 10-2
10. Florida 9-3
11. Boston College 10-2
12. Hawaii 11-0
13. Arizona State 9-2
14. Tennessee 9-3
15. Illinois 9-3
16. Clemson 9-3
17. Oregon 8-3
18. Wisconsin 9-3

Big Ten and Big East - 1 or 2, 1
Ohio State and West Virginia, champions of the Big Ten and Big East respectively, are guaranteed BCS berths. The Big East will not send a second team, and the point of this exercise is obviously to see if the Big Ten can. Illinois will be the second Big Ten team.

Big 12 - 2
If Missouri beats Oklahoma, winning the Big 12, they will go to the BCS championship game, and Kansas will get an at-large berth to the BCS. If Oklahoma wins, they will get the Big 12 auto-bid, and either Mizzou or Kansas will get an at-large. Either way, the Big 12 sends two teams (remember, they cannot send three).

SEC - 2
Georgia, idle this week, is high enough in the BCS rankings to be guaranteed a BCS bid. The winner of the LSU-Tennesse SEC championship game will get the conference's auto-bid. The SEC will send 2 teams to the BCS. Florida, while ranked ahead of Illinois, will be shut out from the BCS due to the maximum of 3 teams per conference.

ACC - 1 (or 2)
Virginia Tech and Boston College play for the ACC title in Jacksonville on Saturday. The winner of this game will get a BCS bid. If Boston College wins, VT may stay high enough in the rankings to be considered for an at-large bid. If VT wins, Boston College will certainly drop from consideration. Either way, it is unlikely that the ACC gets more than one bid.

PAC-10 - 1 or 2
USC is a shoe-in to the PAC-10 title, unless rival UCLA pulls a massive upset (don't count it out - they upset USC last year, and Stanford(!) managed to pull it off this year). Also under BCS consideration is Arizona State, who faces rival Arizona this week. Arizona State is ranked two spots ahead of Illinois, and it would certainly be possible for them to get a bid over the Illini - assuming they get past the Wildcats. If both teams lose, the Oregon Ducks have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl by beating Oregon State.

Others - 1
Hawaii (ugh schedule ugh) is ranked 12th in the BCS, which is the cutoff for non-BCS conference teams to get an automatic bid to the Big Dance. Therefore, if they defeat Washington on Saturday, they will earn the right to get pasted in a big time bowl.

Add up those totals, and there are 12 teams that have BCS potential. Clearly, they can't all make it in. Thus, the Illini (and, by extension, Wolverines) will have to cheer for a select few teams this weekend to end up where they want. The best case scenario is VT winning the ACC, either USC or Arizona State falling (or both, for that matter), and Washington beating Hawaii. If all those things happen, look for the Illini in the BCS, and Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.

(...and to think, I started this post with the intention of noting that Wisconsin and Penn State had already accepted bids...)

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Miles tells players he's leaving

by Tim

(Thanks to MGoBlog, among many others.)

Internet rumor of the day comes to you courtesy of TigerDroppings, an LSU sports/recruiting site (a la Scout or Rivals, but to the best of my knowledge, unaffiliated). Various members of their message board claim to have heard directly from LSU players that Les Miles has announced to his team that he is leaving LSU to become the head coach at Michigan.

Of course, this is internet rumor until a source other than anonymous message board members confirm it.

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Coaching Search Update

Thursday, November 29, 2007 by Tim

At this point in the coaching search, a lot of information has become available, and a lot of same information has ceased to be relevant. So where does the search stand now?
  1. Les Miles appears to be the #1 candidate, with no clear #2 after the elimination of Kirk Ferentz from contention.
  2. LSU has granted Michigan permission to talk to Miles about the coaching job. This permission isn't necessary, but it shows Michigan's willingness to do things the "right way." The permission is also a good indicator that Miles will be the next head coach of Michigan, as information of this nature typically doesn't leak out unless something is imminent.
  3. Carr has been against Miles for a while, but if nothing else, it seems as though he is resigned to the fact that Miles will inevitably be the next UM coach.
  4. Les Miles's LSU Tigers play Tennessee for the SEC championship on Saturday. Assuming the Miles-to-Michigan rumors are a done deal at this point, Michigan fans will likely be rooting for the Tigers.
  5. After this game (again, assuming Miles has reached an agreement with Michigan), it is unclear whether Miles will stay on to coach LSU in the bowl game, or (perhaps more likely), cease head coaching duties at LSU immediately, and begin some of the head coaching duties at Michigan. An announcement may be made as early as next week.
  6. What duties would Miles be responsible for? First and foremost, reaching out to recruits to establish a stability on that front, as well as assembling a staff. Then, being around the current team during their bowl preparation (without actually being involved), will assist him in getting accustomed to his personnel, their strengths and weaknesses, and what schemes will work best for them, etc.
More on the Miles story as information becomes available.

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Michigan given permission to speak to Miles

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by Tim


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Coaching Search: Committee Revealed!

by Tim

Courtesy of the Detroit News.

The News reports that the coaching search committee is believed to have seven members, including Desmond Howard (former Heisman winner and current ESPN analyst), Ted Spencer (director of undergrad admissions), Percy Bates (athletic faculty representative), and 4 mystery members.

Thus far, however, Martin has conducted the interviews without the search committee.

Although it still is relatively early in the search process, Martin already has conducted two interviews for the vacancy.

He interviewed Ron English, Michigan's defensive coordinator, on Monday, and Mike DeBord, the offensive coordinator, on Tuesday.

Martin conducted both interviews.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007 by Tim

Low turnout this week. Interestingly, WVU is second, despite getting more first place votes than Mizzou. This is courtesy of a fourth-place vote (behind OSU and, mind-bogglingly, LSU).

1. Mizzou (2)
2. WVU (3)
3. OSU
4. Georgia
5. LSU
6. USC
7. VT
8. Kansas
9. Oklahoma
10. Florida


Carty Questions Ferentz's Character

Monday, November 26, 2007 by Tim

I wonder who Jim Carty does(n't) prefer for the Michigan job?

The Ferentz-to-Michigan thing has gained quite a bit of steam, mostly via MGoBlog (though off-the-record, I have spoken to insider-ish people who certainly believe he's the #1 choice, if nothing further than that).

Jim Carty tries to show that Kirk Ferentz is not the man of integrity that those in the Michigan world would like to think. In fact, he's a scummy cheater whose son steals from poor people and gives to the rich (himself), like some sort of twisted reverse-Robin Hood. Carty certainly seems to be stretching here, trying to go out of his way (and the realm of relevance) to dish some dirt on Ferentz.

As for the assertion that 10% of Iowa's team is in some sort of legal trouble? Glass houses, buddy. That does raise a point, however, that even Lloyd Carr, bastion of all that is right in this world-gone-wrong, can't control all of his players perfectly.

As for the search? It is quite clear that Ferentz is probably the #1 choice right now (with support from Mary Sue Coleman and Carr), with Miles somewhere behind him, and everyone else playing catchup.

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Recruiting Board Update

Thursday, November 22, 2007 by Tim

A new commit and a lot of changes in other areas (read: coaches) combine to necessitate a recruiting update. All previous commits who haven't reaffirmed their commitment to Michigan are moved into the newly-renamed "near lock" category. "Presumed leans" and "longshots" are combined into one category, as few people are leans, what with the new coaching staff and all.


QB 1CommitsNear locks

Steven Threet (07)John Weinke

RB 1-2
Sam McGuffie

Mike Cox

Christian Wilson

OL 4-5Dann O'Neill
Kurt WermersTrevor Robinson
Zebrie Sanders

Elliott MealerRocko KhouryZac Hueter

WR 2-3
Darryl StonumElias Kos
Vaughn Carraway

Jon Baldwin
TE 1-2Kevin KogerBrandon Moore


DT 1-2
Mike Martin

DE 1-2

Nick Perry
LB 2-3 Kenny DemensMarcus Witherspoon

J.B. Fitzgerald

S 1-2

Vaughn TelamaqueRahim Moore

Brandon SmithSpencer Adams

Herman Davidson

CB 1-2
Boubacar CissokoRobbie Green

J.T. Floyd
STGeorge Morales (LS)

John Potter (K)

The new head coach will obviously have an impact on which recruits stay, and which new guys commit, etc. Threet is obviously already enrolled, O'Neill, Mealer, Koger, and Demens have reaffirmed their commitments, and Morales committed after the Carr retirement. Cissoko reaffirmed his commitment to the Detroit News, then said he would look around the next day. All the other previous commitments are currently in limbo, but don't be surprised to see most of them recommit. State will go after the Michigan guys, is Illinois hard on Cissoko, Moore is being courted by Ohio State and a bevy of southern schools. If certain assistants leave (Szabo for the two linebackers, DeBord for some of the linemen, English for defensive guys), some commits may be lost that way.

There's also the possibility that a new coach (i.e. Les Miles) will bring some recruits with him who had Michigan in their top list, but picked someone else (i.e. LSU or other southern schools).

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Random-ish commit alert

by Tim

George Morales, a long snapper from Las Vegas, has pledged to become a Michigan Wolverine.

It's hard to evaluate special teams players, especially long snappers (their only job is to get the ball to the punter/holder and get downfield; they don't have to block), but there's a little information on Morales available here. It will be interesting to see if the new coaching regime will honor his offer.

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MGoBlue gets shitty makeover

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 by Tim

Witnesses in the Ann Arbor area have reported to Varsity Blue that the Michigan Athletic Department's official website, MGoBlue.com, recently began looking "unlike itself." Varsity Blue, acting on this tip,sent an investigative team to the site.

Upon arrival, suspicions were confirmed. MGoBlue, formerly functional, unique, and aesthetically appealing, has been stripped of these key features. Instead of the previous design, which could be described as "pragmatic, yet cute," the site now features a near-replica of the CSTV format (used for such sites as those of Notre Dame and Michigan State), which observers have noted "makes my eyes want to kill me" and "sucks."

Varsity Blue will provide further details in this story as they unfold.

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by Tim

1. LSU
2. WVU
3. Kansas
4. OSU
5. Missouri
6. Oklahoma
7. Oregon
8. ASU
9. VT
10. USC


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What does it mean for recruiting?

Monday, November 19, 2007 by Tim

Michigan currently has 16 recruits committed to the 2008 class for football.
Boubacar Cissoko CB Detroit
Mike Cox RB Connecticut
Kenny Demens LB Detroit
J.B. Fitzgerald LB New Jersey
Rocko Khoury OL Traverse City
Kevin Koger TE Toledo
Mike Martin DT Novi
Sam McGuffie RB Texas
Elliott Mealer OL Wauseon, OH
Brandon Moore TE Trotwood, OH
Dan O'Neill OT Grand Haven
Daryl Stonum WR Texas
Kurt Wermers OL Crown Point, IN
John Weinke QB Tuscola, IL
Christian Wilson RB McKees Rock, PA
Marcus Witherspoon LB New Jersey

With Carr's retirement now official, the new coach will likely have to re-recruit all of the current commitments, as well as the final 6 or seven members to the 2008 recruiting class. Some currently committed members of the Wolverines' class have reaffirmed their commitments, whomever the next coach may be. Boubacar Cissoko, Kenny Demens, and Dann O'Neill have all told the Detroit News that they will remain firm in their commitments. Christian Wilson, on the other hand, will reopen his recruiting. The remaining members of the class have not spoken about their intentions, but it is likely that some of the more highly-coveted guys will be recruited heavily by other top schools, and Michigan State will likely go hard after every commit from the mitten state. Will Illinois push after John Weinke, who lives only half an hour from Urbana-Champaign? For now, it's a wait-and-see game. More news will likely come out as the recruits themselves hear from Carr, and report to their local newspapers. Every recruit will obviously have different factors working for and against Michigan (Stonum's former teammates at Michigan, Dantonio working hard for in-state dominance, etc.).

On an interesting note, many recruits have named Ron English as a key factor to their return to the Wolverines. Kenny Demens said he is a Michigan Man no matter what, but he would like to see English on the next staff. Both of the New Jersey linebackers had Steve Szabo as their primary recruiter. Szabo is a top-notch coach as well, though it is possible he retires.

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Bill Martin outlines Coaching Search

by Tim

Probably a lot of posting, in light of what a big day it is today.

From the Ann Arbor News.

The criteria seem to point away from Mike Trgovac, in terms of people who have already been mentioned as potential candidates. Miles seems to fit the criteria the best (Jim Carty definitely thinks so). The Best Sports Writer in America questions whether Les Miles should be considered a lock to coach the Wolverines next season. Tedford doesn't likely have the "Michigan Tradition" knowledge that Martin talks about. Brian Kelly seems to meet the criteria well. In terms of coaching longevity, I doubt people will have to worry about DeBord (and not just for that reason).

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Dat shit's official, yo

Sunday, November 18, 2007 by Tim

Lloyd Carr has informed his coaching staff and players, as well as the media, that he will retire at a 10AM press conference tomorrow.

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What Might the Staff Look Like?

Thursday, November 15, 2007 by Tim

Assuming Lloyd Carr retires at the end of this year, which becomes less and less of an "if" each day, it seems, Michigan will be looking to hire a new head coach. One such option is former Michigan assistant Les Miles, who is now the head coach of the LSU Tigers. If Miles were named coach, what might his staff look like? Varsity Blue offers our (not necessarily informed on all points) opinions:

Current Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr (Retires)
Defensive Secondary: Vance Bedford (Likely to leave)
Assistant Head Coach / Wide Receivers: Erik Campbell (Carr guy, but good coach. Status unknown)
Offensive Coordinator / Tight Ends: Mike DeBord (Will likely be replaced, rumors of personal incompatibility with Miles)
Defensive Coordinator: Ron English (Will likely move on)
Associate Head Coach / Running Backs: Fred Jackson (Will likely stay, coached with Miles under Moeller)
Quarterbacks: Scot Loeffler (Will likely stay, possibly promoted to OC, was a player when Miles was a coach)
Offensive Line: Andy Moeller (Will be replaced or moved to LBs)
Defensive Line: Steve Stripling (Will likely stay)
Linebackers: Steve Szabo (will likely retire)
Director of Weight Training and Conditioning: Mike Gittleson (Will be replaced)
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Kevin Tolbert (Likely to stay)

Les Miles's Current Staff
Offensive Coordinator: Gary Crowton (Not likely to stay with Miles – first year together, he’s been on a downward slide (BYU HC to Oregon OC to LSU OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Bo Pelini(Not likely to join Miles – HC gig elsewhere)
Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator: Josh Henson (May join Miles – been with him since OkSt, and DeBord will be replaced)
Defensive Line Coach: Earl Lane (Not likely to join – only second year with Miles, though he did go to college in Michigan)
Defensive Backs Coach: Doug Mallory (Likely to go with Miles – played for Bo at Michigan, been with Les since OkSt, has good players)
Wide Receivers Coach: D.J. McCarthy (Not likely to join – 1st year with Miles, no real connections)
Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach: Bradley Dale Peveto (May join Miles, 3rd year with him, and LSU’s special teams have been decent, pulls double duty)
Asst. Head Coach/Running Backs/Special Teams: Larry Porter (May come – coaches a white guy right now, has multiple responsibilities, but Jackson is already around)
Offensive Line Coach: Greg Studrawa (May come – Ohio guy, though it is his first year with Miles)
Strength & Conditioning Coordinator: Tommy Moffitt (May not come – longtime LSU guy, and could want to stay, though LSU always has strong, conditioned athletes)

Hybrid Staff:
Head Coach: Les Miles
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Scot Loeffler
Co-Offensive Co-coordinator/Offensive Line: Greg Studrawa
Tight Ends: Josh Henson
Defensive Coordinator:
Associate Head Coach / Running Backs: Fred Jackson
Defensive Line: Steve Stripling
Linebackers/Special Teams: Bradley Dale Peveto or Andy Moeller
Director of Weight Training and Conditioning: Tommy Moffitt
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Kevin Tolbert

The only space left empty here is the Defensive Coordinator. Would English be willing to stay on, and would Michigan be willing to take him? Otherwise, Michigan would have to go outside both programs to find a new name (which, in all reality, they are likely to do for one or more of the other positions as well).

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Stevenson Backtracks on Noise Comments

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 by Tim

At the end of October, the MZone reported that Michigan Executive Assistant Athletic Director Michael Stevenson made comments that fan noise should be avoided at all costs, as it provides one team an unfair advantage in athletic competition.

The Michigan Review reports, however, that these statements were taken out of context, and Stevenson's comments were actually supposed to be responding to the framework of a rule that is no longer in existence, and don't reflect his actual opinions.
But those rules are no longer enforced by officials, and since fans no longer have to worry about incurring penalties against their own team for their rowdiness, fans should be involved and passionate, Stevenson said.
This should clear up any confusion about whether or not there is an institutional bias against fan noise at Michigan stadium. Whether or not they actively encourage it, of course, is a different issue altogether.

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Monday, November 12, 2007 by Tim

1. Oregon (5)
2. LSU (1)
3. Oklahoma
4. Kansas (1)
5. Ohio State
6. Missouri
7. West Virginia
8. Georgia
9. Virginia Tech
10. USC

Happy Day!

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Early Basketball Observations

Sunday, November 11, 2007 by Adam

After watching Michigan handily defeat Radford and Brown this weekend here are a few things that I've noticed.

1. John Beilein can flat out coach. This is a completely different looking team at both ends of the floor. Beilein is putting guys in positions where they can succeed and is not asking them to do too much. It's going to be very exciting once he can develop some talent and build a deeper program. Right now he's going to have to rely on DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris for a bulk of Michigan's scoring and you can't have just two reliable scorers in college basketball.

2. Kelvin Grady might beat out Jerret Smith at the point guard spot. He has really good speed and he sees the floor so well. Daniel Horton did not run the fast break as well as Grady has in these first two games. He has really good vision and I have seen him on numerous occasions find DeShawn Sims or Manny Harris for very easy layups. He is really quick defensively and fits in nicely at the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone.

3. Manny Harris can flat out play. This kid was brought in to rescue Michigan basketball and he just might do that. He has a rare combination of length and quickness that allows him to play the top of the 1-3-1. I lost count as to how many tips he caused when he and Ron Coleman or DeShawn Sims trapped the ball handler in the corner.

4. When you watch DeShawn Sims play, you can see why Tommy Amaker was fired. This guy has proven in the first two games that he can score from anywhere on the floor. Yet under Tommy Amaker he was the second big man off the bench. He is a really smart player and is going to be a force to be reckoned with come Big Ten play. I'm having a hard time thinking of a player in the Big Ten that is as versatile as DeShawn Sims.

Bottom line: This team still has a long way to go. I do not see them winning at Georgetown or Duke, and I do not see them beating UCLA at home. However, don't be surprised if they make a run in Alaska. The teams up there are not going to have a lot of time to prepare and may not know what to expect. If Michigan can knock down the three's with the same consistency, they are going to beat Butler and possibly even Virginia Tech in the second round. We will know a lot more about this team after the Great Alaska Shootout. However, even if they do not produce results, just go back to point number one and remember that they are in good hands.

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by Tim


Injuries Key in Madison

Friday, November 09, 2007 by Tim

When the Wolverines and the Badgers take the field on Saturday, two pre-season top-five teams, already having accumulated a total of five losses, will be playing for far less than the National Championship berth that was their expected goal. Wisconsin, 3-3 in the conference, has not been the defensive juggernaut that many expert predicted, whereas Michigan's explosive offense, featuring Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Chad Henne and Jake Long, was unable to put enough points on the board to beat non-conference foes Appalachian State(!) and Oregon.

Among the many things that have required adjustments for both teams are a wide range of injuries. Wisconsin's starter P.J. Hill, last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, has missed time in the last two Badger games, including the entire loss to Ohio State. Two members of Michigan's offensive contingent, Chad Henne and Mike Hart, have battled different injuries throughout the year, and each has missed at least two games.

When the teams take the field on Saturday, the injury situation is likely to play a key role for both teams. The first hit for Wisconsin: starting cornerback Allen Langford is out for the season after injuring his knee against Ohio State. The losses don't end there for the badgers, however. Starting defensive tackle Jason Chapman is also going to miss the remainder of the year, right offensive tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel is not expected to play, and those in the know predict P.J. Hill will not hit the field against the Wolverines.

The personnel shuffling doesn't end there for Wisconsin, as there will be changes in favor of getting some young guys more playing time, in addition to players returning from injury. The strong safety competition has been reopened, and redshirt freshman Jay Valai has a strong chance to earn the spot. Junior offensive guard Andy Kemp comes back after missing the last three weeks with a hand injury. This, along with Vanden Heuvel's injury, will really shake up the offensive line. A backup running back (likely Lance Smith) might not be able to find a lot of room to run behind this reshuffling, and Tyler Donovan should fear for his life (he was sacked ten times against Ohio State).

The badgers may be able to take heart in the other side of the line, where Michigan is far from injury-free. Right guard Alex Mitchell, who started the year out at right guard, but has missed most of the season with injury, returned to the lineup against Michigan State, and is expected the get the start. Strong safety Brandent Englemon went down after making a tackle against the Spartans, and while he is expected to start, his full status is not known. Henne and Hart both played through injuries against MSU, and while Henne is expected to be close to 100%, Hart may be more hurt than he has let on. He missed most of the second half of last week's game.

Jason Chapman has one assisted sack. The badgers are 46th in pass defense efficiency, and with Chapman unable to provide a bit of pressure, and replacing a senior in the secondary with a freshman, and a redshirt sophomore back there with a redshirt freshman (potentially), Chad Henne should be able to sling the ball through the air. His offensive line is the healthiest it's been all year. Moving the ball on the ground for Michigan is still questionable. While Chapman only has 2 solo tackles for loss, and 26 total tackles on the year, even with him that Badgers are 58th in run defense. Mike Hart is a major upgrade over his backups, but Michigan's O-line is finally healthy.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan's injuries are minimal, pending the status of Brandent Englemon. Wisconsin has to replace a starting right tackle, likely with a redshirt freshman (albeit an Army All-American in Jake Bscherer). Also on the offensive line, Wisconsin makes a change at left guard, and although it is a starter returning from injury, the cohesion along the offensive line may be affected, as Andy Kemp has not played for three weeks. Losing P.J. Hill hurts the most for Wisconsin. He was the team's MVP last year, and is a bruising runner in the style of Michigan State's Jehuu Caulcrick, who had his way with the Michigan defense in the second half for Michigan State. Lance Smith is amore speedy runner, who has averaged 6.4 yards per carry.

The conclusion? Wisconsin is certainly far more banged up than Michigan. The secondary for the Badgers should be the weak link, as this is likely the strongest receiving corps they have seen this year (no disrespect intended to the Buckeyes). The Badger run game should struggle as well, with two changes on the offensive line, and the starter at running back either out or severely hampered by injury. The tale of the trainer's table definitely leans in favor of Michigan.

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Varsity of the Blue: Return of the Highlight

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 by Tim

With the return of the highlight comes the return of the shitty music! Enjoy.

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by Tim

1. Ohio State (8)
2. Oregon (1)
3. LSU
4. Oklahoma
5. West Virginia
6. Mizzou
7. Kansas
8. Michigan
9. Boston College
10. Arizona State

I'm not in love with it, but hey, I only have one vote.

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2nd Half Liveblog

Saturday, November 03, 2007 by Tim

Halftime stats:
Hart 13-99
Henne 7-14 2TD 1INT
Manningham 3-14 1TD
Butler 2-16 1TD
Ezeh 3 tackles (2TFL), 1 sack

Ringer 6-21 (3.5 ypc)
Hoyer 8-21 1INT

Brown takes the KO at the 15, and gets it out to the 31.

Michigan runs towards the strong side, the weak I-set FB is not a factor. Minor runs it, Hart not in. Henne in the gun on 2nd and 10. Inside draw to Minor, who takes it 7 yards. Someone gets his ankles, but he manages to keep his feet for another yard or two.

State brings the heat, but Henne has plenty of time. Probably because there's a holing call on the way. Yup. It's on Butler, but they decline due to the lack of completion on third. Butler should
have gone to State for all the discipline he has.

Ringer has a big hole on 2nd and 8, Ezeh meets him a couple yards downfield, and is driven backwards. 3rd and short. Caulcrick gets the first. Ringer dances behind good push from his linemen. He is brought down after gaining 6.

Do we cover TEs at all? Davis wide open for a 21 yard gain. Next play, Ringer manages to keep his balance for a gain of 9. Caulcrick barrels forward for the first. Where is the stereotypical MSU drive-killing penalty?

1st and ten MSU, Caulcrick runs up the middle for 8ish yards, where he is upended. He appears to fumble, but he was definitely down by contact. After a long TV timeout, Ringer goes up the middle and gets less than a yard, but is given a fairly generous spot. 3rd down msu. Caulcrick hit in the backfield by CGraham, who shows why peopel are always frustrated with him by missing the tackle. Brandon is there to make the stop, but it's after the first.

1st and Goal MSU, lined up in a goal line set. Michigan has only 10 men on the field. Caulcrick breaks through the line and gets down to the 1. On the next play, he punches it in.

14-10 Michigan 6:32 3rd Quarter. This game suddenly got interesting. Is it just Michigan's tendency to give up a sustained drive at the beginning of the game reappearing after halftime? After the first MSU drive, Michigan dominated the rest of the half. Now that MSU has managed to get on the scoreboard again, the Wolverines don't look nearly so dominant.

On plays that are reviewed, I wish the refs would be more specific. They typically say "After review, the ruling on the field stands (/is overturned). It would be so much more enlightening to say "There is no indisputable visual evidence to overturn" or "there is indisputable visual evidence confirming the call." Either way, MSU gets the TD, and as the shadows finally overtake the whole field, they'll kick off to a Michigan offense that gained 23 yards after their TD early in the second quarter, and didn't manage to garner a first down on their first drive of the half.

Carlos Brown returns the kick, and doesn't go down on first contact like has been accused in the past. He is becoming a field position weapon on kick returns. Why haven't we seen him in the punt game?

Mike Hart returns to the field, and Manningham is barely overthrown on a bomb by Henne. A dive probably would have gotten him enough to the ball to catch it. Hart draws up the middle on second for one yard. The fans are really getting into the game. Can the Spartans throttle the emotion and play smart?

Timeout Michigan to avoid a delay penalty. This game definitely feels like it is turning the way of MSU. Michigan needs a big conversion (especially after spending a timeout) to stop the momentum shift.

Mathews left, butler TE left, Henne in the gun with Hart to his left. Henne goes down. He had a month to throw but nobody came open. This is bad. A ref is down on the field. I put the sack on Mitchell actually, as Schilling was expecting help inside and Mitchell didn't provide it because he was busy blocking... nobody.

Bad/mediocre punt by Zoltan, bad coverage, though it actually only ended up being a 1 yard return. Could have had him for a big loss.

SUPER late flag on the play. Wasn't a good call either. Ball was uncatchable either way. It seems like the field judge threw it just to spite Warren for thinking he had good coverage. Bad officiating there. Michigan is hurtin' for an MSU turnover.

77,009 in attendance today.

Crable and Slocum stop Ringer for a loss on a pitch play on second down. Michigan has to get a third down stop. Hoyer completes to Curry even though he was getting drilled as he threw. Short of the first down.

Englemon hasn't come back after getting hurt on the MSU TD drive. Stevie Brown has been at FS. State calls a timeout after lining up to go for it on fourth and 2. They come back out with a punter. Michigan is skeptical, keeping 3 LBers in.

The MSU player was standing in the endzone as he got hit by the punt. That should be a touchback. I expect a review. Hmm, replay shows that he may not have been in. I wish we had him on Michigan instead of Charles Stewart.

Hart gains one yard then has a slight limp as he goes off. Play action deep to Mario. The defender was being pretty physical with him, but he managed to make the catch. On replay, it might have been a PI on Henderson if Manningham isn't able to make the catch.

Next play, to Mario the other way, Henne overthrows him by one step again. If he had just put a little less under some of his passes, this game would be out of reach already. Henne is destroyed as he throws on third down. No protection from Minor on that one. Another area (other than "all of them") where Hart is a big upgrade from the backups. Punty.

Flare to Devin Thomas. Well covered by Trent, who makes the play despite being held by the other WR. Ringer reverses field on the next play and takes it almost all the way before getting dragged down form behind by Crable(!). Great play by him to stay with MSU's "lightning" player.

End of 3rd. 14-10 Michigan. 1st and Goal MSU, 5 yard line.
31-152 rushing
11-24 1 int
7penalties 51 yds

23-102 rushing
8-19 1 int 2 td
3 penalties 35 ys.

MSU play action to a wide open Davis. It didn't seem like UM had good coverage on a single Spartan. Davis was Crable's man. Crable stayed with the run fake too long.

17-14 MSU 14:55 4th.

Brandon Harrison returns to the 25. Anton Campbell getting a bit chippy with some Spartans after the play.

Another Michigan 3 and out. Henne had enough time to get rid of it, but he didn't. He took a painful-looking sack. Hope his knees are ok after that one. Another shitty Zoltan punt. Fortunately, good coverage.

It is interesting to notice the difference in fan behavior at State. Even the alums in box seats stand up and cheer on third down, and sometimes other key plays.

Defense looks like it is getting tired. Caulcrick blows through about 4 Michigan defenders for a 7 yard gain. After a State first down, they are called for an illegal shift, negating a 4 yard gain. Is this the penalty that Michigan has been looking for all half to slow down the Spartans? At this point, it seems like Michigan State is going to have to beat itself.

Caulcrick bounces outside for a big gain. This is a Michigan loss just waiting to happen.

1-10 MSU on UM 22.

State has decided to just run the ball straight at Michigan, and it is workign with a great degree of success. Crable comes off the edge on second down and levels Caulcrick after a one yard gain to bring a 3rd down and 4.

State tries the Colorado "pretend like you fumbled it" fake, but Michigan does not bite. Doesn't matter, as he still completes it to Thomas over Trent's head. Morgan needs to get his head around on that. Other than the occasional pass, MSU has contented themselves with running a whole hell of a lot.

Like for a Caulcrick TD.

17-4 Run-pass ratio in third quarter, not sure of exact stats but it isn't far off for the fourth.

24-14 MSU 7:40 4th Quarter.

After a lackluster kick return by Carlos Brown, Henne finds a wide open Arrington, whose momentum carries him out of bounds shortly after he makes the first down. Mallett comes in at QB. This is bad. Henne's knee looks hurt.

Mallett gets killed from the edge, fumbling. Hart picks it up, and breaks a tackle after 7 yards. If he could have done that a little quicker, it was off to the endzone. Hart gets the first anyway. Henne back in. Deep out to Mario. Probably Henne's best throw, and he delivers a good one. Mario picks up the first.

Short pass to Mathews, he only gains four, but is hit well after he was out of bounds. Thank You, Spartans. Kendell Davis-Clark with the free 15.

Henne is in a rhythm on the out pass. Arrington catches this one for 11. Ball on the 14 for Michigan. They take a timeout, leaving only one remaining in a game they trail late by two scores.

24-14 MSU 6:59 4Q 1-10 UM on MSU 14.

Henne begging for defensive holding from the ref on that one. No dice. Arrington stumbled, and Henne missed him in the endzone (not his fault). Replay shows blatant PI. Moot, as Greg Mathews gets behind the MSU defender (Kendell Davis-Clark) on the next play and catches it right in the bread basket. Davis just got turned around.

24-21 MSU 6:47 4th Quarter. Nice 48 second drive there. Time for a big stop. Navy over ND 46-44 in 3 overtimes, BTW.

Two run plays get State into a third and 2.5 on their own 33ish. Caulcrick is stuffed on a toss sweep and Michigan has life again. MSU punt bounces out at the 35, and the offense takes the field once more. Arrington makes a diving catch on a less-accurate out from Henne. He would have had a lot of room for YAC with a better throw.

There has been a shitload of uncalled PI in this game. Jim Carty, who is begging to be choked, informs all who will listen that it isn't a bad call. He is wrong. Next play, Manningham goes out untouched after 9. He could have turned it up for a yard or two to get the first.

Minor runs for the first, but there is a flag on the play. Holding. Fuck. Butler again. Undisciplined play from him once more. Michigan takes their final timeout. Butler needs to get his head right.

Huge 3rd and 11 here. Manningham's lack of stretch is really hurting the team now. Arrington saves the day, though, getting just more than enough for the first. Henne down the middle for Manningham. If he had hit Arrington, it could have meant a few more yards, but it turned out for the best. Henne is playing really well under pressure.

1 yard loss by Minor and a fall down by Manningham leads to another 3rd and 11. BOMB TO SUPER MARIO!!!!!!!!! And a HUUUUUUUUUge weight is lifted from my chest.

28-24 UM 2:28 4th Quarter.

Time for one more big stop. Thomas makes a huge individual effort to evade some guys and break a tackle or two before getting dragged down by Warren and Webb at about the 31.

The defense is slowly yielding yardage. I wouldn't be upset if they could make the tackles short of the sticks and inbounds. After a reception by Davis (unfolding exactly as outlined last sentence), State takes their second timeout.

Big reception across the middle by Thomas. This is bad. Thomas is having a hell of a game. Then Crable and Ezeh destroy Hoyer, and State takes their last TO. 30 second.

28-24 Michigan 1:34 4th Quarter MSU 2-18 on UM 43 yard line.

HUGE PBU by Trent. 4th and 18 for State.

Probably pass interference by the Michigan DB, uncalled (as it hasn't been all game, thanks Jim Carty), and the game is unofficially over.

A couple team rushes for loss and..... ballgame
43-191 rush
19/35 1 int 1 td
9 penalties 71 yds

18-33 1 int 3 td
3 fum (no lost)
4-45 penalties

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((No longer) UFR-Style) Liveblog

by Tim

Live from the pressbox at Spartan stadium, I'm going to try to do a UFR-style liveblog of the game. If it doesn't work out through the first quarter or so, I'll ditch it for a more standard liveblog.

3:27, the clock shows five minute until gametime.
3:30 I have never seen a cornier presentation of the National Anthem than that by the MSU band, complete with ROTC members shaking a giant nylon flag to make it look like it's rippling in the wind. Hart comes out as captain.
3:34 Michigan kickoff. Devin Thomas 26 yards to the 26.
1-10 M Defense 4-2-5 crable standup de ezeh and adams tackle ringer at 28 gain of 2
2-8 4-3 Reverse, Harrison whiffs, englemon tackles kellen davis on the 32 gain of long 4. Why is State running a reverse to the TE?
3-4 Hoyer's pass tipped and caught by kellen davis. Tackle by Harrison 17 yd gain. ball on 50
1-10 4-3 caulcrick cuts back into filing linebackers for 3. ball on M 47.
2-7 4-2-5. Ringer swing lateral, gain of 8, first down MSU.
1-10 4-2-5, Crable lined up to blitz. He and Harrison do. Bad coverage by Trent gives Devin Thomas a lot of room to make the catch. 18 yd gain for MSU.
1-10 4-3 weakside shift Crable on LOS. Caulcrick up the middle for 3 yd gain.
2-7 4-3 lots on the line. Tim Jamison off the line and covers short flat. Shitty pass by Hoyer would have gotten Davis an easy wide open TD.
Delay of game MSU. Taken back. Dantonio called a TO on the sideline before the clock expired. Ref says TO Michigan, he means MSU. It is impossible to UFR at game speed, so I'm stopping after this drive.
3-7 Hoyer in shotgun nexct to ringer. 3-3-5 way overshifted to the strongside for M. Changes to 4-2-5 as Jamo puts his hand down. Brandent Englemon makes a bi hit to break up a pass to Thomas that wouldn't have netted MSU a first down anyway.
4-7 Swenson barely makes a 36 yard FG inside the right upright to put State up 3-0. M played safe cover on the attempt.

Michigan gets that ball on the kickoff, Short one that Brown rturns to the 29. Fighting after the whistle.

10:35 1Q Hart gets the first carry on the drive for 8 yards, and the second, which doesn't count as MSU had a player in the neutral zone. Free first down.
Diving catch by Arrington. Not a great throw by Chad, but way to haul it in for Adrian. Offsides again on State. Same Old Spartans. NO DISCIPLINE.
Hart's ankle is getting taped. Manningham gets gifted a PI call that should have been on him.

Minor goes down in the backfield on a tackle he should have broken form Saint-Dic. Unsportsmanlike conduct coming up. Offsetting on Savoy and Eric Gordon from State.

9:18 1Q second and long Henne in the gun. Nice pass pro by Hart. Henne hits Manningham who may have actually lost yardage.
Third and long for the first time. State doesn't rush a lot of people, and Henne has all day. Manningham's guy falls down, and he is wide open. Henne overthrows him. Was Manningham grabbed as his cover fell?

8:15 1Q Michigan punt fielded at the 18, first and Ten State.

So far, M defense is playing bend but don't break, and the offense needs to find a groove after Henne and Hart have been out (or limited) for a couple weeks.

2-10 MSU, own 23. Ringer stumbles up the middle for about five as Adams comes up to play the run. 3-5 Hoyer from the gun connects for 2 yards. Harrison on the tackle. MSU playcalling not impressive, but neither is M's defensive play thus far. Not a whole lot of pressure on Hoyer.

Mathews drops the punt at the UM 38, but manages to cover it up before the coverage arrives.

Mallett is warming up on the sidelines, but Henne comes out to start the drive (as does Hart).

6:10 1Q. 1-10 Michigan from their own 38. Not bad field position. Twins left with Moundros on the right as a TE with Butler. Arrington Motions across for an Ace standard lok, and Henne hits Butler for an 11 yard gain.

On first and Ten, Hart gains 3 when his cut isn't sharp enough to find daylight. I feel like a 100% healthy Hart makes that cut and gains 8-9 yards. A lineman is down on the field. 57. Kraus. Lots of shuffling on the OL.


This OL clearly works, as Hart hits a huge hole and fights off safeties (if only he were a little faster) to the MSU 11. 1-10 after the 37 yard gain.

A bit of unclean play as Hart gets forward progress for no gain, and a couple Spartans wrestle him after the whistle for 5 yards back in 10 laterally.

Easy TD on the fade to Mario. Hilariously bad coverage by #31 Ashton Henderson.

7-3 Michigan 3:54 1Q

Great kickoff by Wright lands 6 yards deep in the corner of the endzone.

A pass to Thomas and a false start result in a second and ten for State. No discipline.

Chris Graham destroys Ringer on a swing pass. Loss of 7 puts MSU in a long-distance 3rd down. Does English bring the heat? 4-3 with Crable a standup DE. Pass tipped at the line by Jamo. State in to punt. Thomas would not have caught the pass for 1st down yardage.

More good field position, as the MSU punt goes end-over-end and rolls dead at the UM 44. Michigan takes over with 1:44 in the first.

Hart slips in the backfield, but manages to keep his balance long enough to make it to the line, which is a yard behind the LOS. The horribly disciplined Spartan DT Justin Kershaw shoves the Michigan center for 5 free yards. This is laughable. An example of when trying to use emotion can work against a team.

Arrington drops a pass in his numbers. Very good D by Davis-Clark to force the INC.

Carson Butler hasn't hit enough nerds yet this year, so he hits a State player after the incompletion for Manningham (Henne ends up on his back). Bad punt by Zoltan means State gets the ball on their own 41.

Hoyer horrifically underthrows Devin Thomas, who was fifteen yards behind Trent. It wasn't his fault, he was pointing for safety help that never came. Ringer runs into the line to end the first.

End 1st quarter. Michigan leads 7-3.
Stats? Stats:
Hart 5-48
Henne 3-6 for 23

Ringer 4-8
Caulcrick 2-6
Hoyer 6-10 for 43

Hoyer puts in on Jamar Adams's numbers. Returned to the State 42 (19 yds), where he goes out of bounds. Adams has stepped up his game statistics-wise this year, which is what he was definitely lacking in the past couple years.

Kraus center, Boren LG. Hart breaks tackles near the line to get down to the State 11.

More personal fouls on State. This team is a fucking joke. Davis-Clark hits Manningham for a PF, half the distance down to the 5.

Mitchell gets an early start to give back the yardage, but the free first down remains.

1-10 Michigan from MSU 10. Hart gets a hole at the line for 2-3, makes a push down to the 5.

3-G from the MSU 5. Henne to Butler near the left sideline right at the GL. K.C. Lopata kicks it through for a 14-3 lead.

12:46 2Q 14-3 Michigan.

Thomas returns the kickoff to the MSU 42. Fullback dive loses 2 yards.

Adams breaks up a pass intended for Davis. Devin Thomas dives and almost catches it. 3rd and long. Michigan brings 6 (4 DL, CGraham, and Adams). Hoyer swarmed under by everyone, Taylor and B Graham get credit for the sack. Illegal formation (lol State penalties lol) declined, MSU punts from their own 32.

Mathews lets it go over his head, and State downs the punt at the 6. Greg had a chance to field it on the bounce near the 25, but didn't do so. 67 yards on the punt.

11:24 1Q. 1-10 Michigan from the UM 6.

MSU hasn't had a first down since their first drive, and had 56 yards on that drive, 1 since. ABC's coverage is showing something about MSU basketball during the first play. Hart runs behind the FB shuffle right. Must be about the Spartans BBall losing to a DII team.

Hart runs a draw, he stands straight up once he's 7 yards past the LOS, lucky he didn't get completely pasted. Uncalled 5 yard facemask.

Henne in the gun, scrambles and drops it. Mitchell falls on the ball for a 3 yards gain. Michigan 4-1 forced to punt.

Another unimpressive one by Zoltan, as MSU will start the drive in Michigan territory.

Hoyer skips a pass a yard before it gets to Thomas. Run up the middle gets state in a third and medium. Hoyer with 2 backs in the gun. Both stay to block. He is flushed, then finds a TE for the first down. Best cure for MSU positive yardage? MSU penalties! Holding this time, and MSU will be in 3rd and long. Screen to Ringer nets them 2 yards, and state will have to punt again.

Punt downed at the UM 8, for some reason the ref decides to move back a yard before spotting it. Michigan will start the drive on their own 7 with 7:01 remaining in the first half.

Hart gains one on first down, then makes a cutback hard right on second to gain 6 yards. He is creating yardage by himself, the blocking has been decent but not great. Henne pressured from the gun on third, wings a dumpoff wide of Minor.

Zoltan with another bad punt. What is his deal today? Only 35 yards. State beings on the UM 49.

Ezeh has to make a tackle pretty far downfield. Why Ezeh was playing from in front 10 yards downfield I have no idea.

Devin Thomas goes deep for State. He puts his hand behind him to try to draw a PI call on Warren, but no avail. Just god handfighting by both guys, on a not very good pass by Hoyer. Touchback on the punt.

The offesne has been conservative of late, though a lot of that is probably just a product of bad field position. Still, on first down Carlos Brown runs up theback of his OL for no gain.

2nd and 10, Henne is hit as he throws, pass is low intended for Arrington. Maybe a bit of contact, but not bad enough to draw a flag. State's defense tries to get the fans into it on thrid and ten. Lloyd takes a timeout from the sideline. It's a short one.

Henne is pressured, and his pass intended for Mario is tipped and nearly intercepted by Henderson. Did the wind catch that one? Chad was throwing into it. Michigan will punt, and Zoltan finally boots one.

1-10 MSU own 28. 3:15 2Q.

Reverse to Thomas, Ezeh crushes him. 2 yard loss on the play.
Hoyer runs into a pulling guard at the snap on second down. Scramble drill and he takes the loss for a sack credited to Ezeh. 3rd and 18 MSU.

Michigan stops the clock to get the ball back with enough time for another score. This leads me to a coaching philosophy question. If Michigan forces the punt, MSU will expect a pass (because Michigan stopped the clock to allow time for them to score). Is this a god time to run a draw? I think so. You still have one timeout if it doesn't turn out well.

Hoyer's pass is high for Kellen Davis, he tips it up to himself and almost catches it, but is separated from it when he hits the ground.

Great punt return from Greg Mathews, although he demonstrated why he has never been described as a "burner." That's a new season long for him (29), it was 18.

Henne completes one to Mathews, who gets out of bounds. Then, Henne is nailed as he throws, and Arrington has to go to a knee to get it for a loss of one. Manningham open along the sideline, he tries to make something happen after the catch (such as a first down), but doesn't do it. Tackled in bounds 3 yards short.

UM calls a timeout, and appears to be going for it one fourth from the MSU 34. Surprised they didn't run it down a little more first, in case they didn't get it. Michigan State sees the Michigan formation after the timeout, and calls one of their own.

4-3 Michigan from the MSU 34. :59 Second Quarter. Henne in the gun with Minor. Arrington and Manningham to the right, Mathews left. Butler off the line to the left.

Henne throws right for Mario, intercepted by Otis Wiley. MSU will have the ball on their own 30 with :54 to play in the half. Wiley's pick netted the Spartans -4 yards.

On the first play, Hoyar finds Dell open between levels of coverage on the left sideline.

Incomplete pass on the first down, then MSU goes 5 wide with Davis in the slot. He is wide open in the middle of the field for 10 yards+lots of YAC, but his hands are one spot where Hoyer shouldn't hit him. Curry gets another MSU drop, at least he got drilled as the ball arrived. State will punt it.

A decent punt lands at the 18, I expect Michigan to take a knee to run out the final :19.

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