Thursday, September 30, 2010
1.) In the game against Bowling Green last week, Devin Gardner and Tate Forcier went a combined 19/22 for nearly 200 yards and a TD apiece. Neither of them would have the same effect as Robinson, but it’s nice to know that Forcier is still committed to the team.
2.) While he has much fewer yards than Robinson, running back Michael Shaw has 44 carries on the year for 245 yards and 5 TD’s. He’s not as dynamic as Robinson, but he’s averaging over 5 yards per carry.
3.) Michigan’s receivers have also been coming up big this year so far. Three of the receivers, Darryl Stonum, Roy Roundtree, and Martavious Odoms, all have over ten catches and are averaging over ten yards per catch. Robinson, Forcier, and Gardner have also been spreading the ball around well with five different players responsible for the six receiving TD’s.
Yes, the Michigan offense would take quite a hit if Robinson went down, and I want him to be leading the team more than any other player, but I think that Michigan would be able to get by without him. Let’s hope we don’t have to find out, though.
- Links to Michigan stuff:
1.) Adam Rittenberg thinks that the Michigan-Indiana game this Saturday will be a shootout . I'd have a hard time disagreeing, although Indiana's coach Bill Lynch said that it might be a "defensive shootout", which makes no sense at all.
2.) Brian Cook for MGoBlog reviews the offense from the Bowling Green game. Pretty in depth with pictures, videos, and analysis.
3.) Brian Cook also has a preview of Michigan's hockey team for the upcoming season.
4.) Great article written about offensive lineman Taylor Lewan for the Detroit News. Angelique Chengelis writes about how he approaches his role on the team, what others think of him, and what is tattooed on the side of his finger and how it acts as an icebreaker.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: They have gone through 3 starting QBs and still keep winning ugly Steelers games. The defense looks better and they could be deadly when Big Ben comes back. He is far more valuable to that team then people think. It was nice to see Charlie Batch do well, since I rooted for him back in grade school. The Steelers will be battling the Ravens all year, so they need to keep winning ugly games until Ben gets his game back to mid season form.
3. Michael Vick: Being a big advocate for Vick getting a second chance (I still reserve the rights to make jokes whenever I want. Pretty sure he reads this blog) its nice to see him do so well no being the starter for the Eagles. He is running and passing better than he did with the Falcons so far, and he could play himself into a starting roll somewhere. Bills, Cardinals, Jaguars, Browns, you better be taking notes. He probably has more years left due to his not taking a beating for three years. Or could he stay in Philly? Only time and more amazing performances will tell.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Mistakes and lack of adjustments are the biggest reason the Lions are 0-3. A lot of people may say, isn't that true of every team? I wouldn't think so. Sometimes its poor offense, lack of talent, poor defense. I do not think the Lions are talented enough to win consistently. But the last three games, I have seen some scary stuff that reminds me of two years ago.
Yesterday, the Lions had about 20 turnovers called back because of penalties. And a couple really solid offensive plays were erased, in an offense who just can't make dumb plays. The defense played better, and our defensive line is pretty incredible. Suh especially. But dumb penalties and dumb plays can make anything look bad. It was just incredibly frustrating to see a good play and expect a flag to be thrown. And not all of it is the refs hating the Lions. And its not because of dumb rules. Smart players make smart plays.
The offense is pitiful, and having Best miss any length of time will just about end any chance we have of scoring more than 14 points a game. Sure we were in the redzone twice and Hill got picked it off twice, but the offense was bad. Wasn't Hill supposed to not turn over the ball? Wasn't he supposed to not make mistakes and provide a steady hand? I haven't seen it yet. The only touchdown scored was when the Lions had the ball on the 11, and I still didn't have confidence they would score there. Megatron was a little more involved, and finally Tony Scheffler was thrown too. But mostly I did not feel good about our offense. Hopefully Best is OK and Kevin Smith can come back from directing movies/his knee injury and give us 3 yards a pop he excels at.
Going forward, the Lions have another 3 weeks with Green Bay, St Louis and the New York Giants. The Lions won't win in Green Bay, they haven't since December 15th, 1991. St Louis is very winnable, especially if Steven Jackson is hurt. Even the Giants, who are worse than people think, is partially winnable. Then after the bye, if the Lions get healthy, its time to make a push for .500
On a side not, nobody likes crazy Uncle Jared and his dumb antics. Saying how he hates Detroit is one thing, but to blame it all on Lions players is just dumb. And nice job Shaun Hill for going back in the ring and stand up for himself. I don't like Jared Allen, and I hope the Lions shut him out for the rest of his career so we don't hear him say something stupid and hillbilly-ish.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Football teams, both college and pro, pump loud noise into their practice facility when traveling to noisy opponent stadiums. Not only did the Oregon State Beavers do this but they did something also very unique; they painted their practice field blue. The Beavers used 70 gallons of white line paint and 280 gallons of watered down blue paint, privately donated, as they proceed to get their eyes and mind used to the unfamiliar territory.
The (24) Beavers kept the game close but got shut out in the fourth quarter as the (3) Broncos extended their home record to 55-2 since 1999 winning 37-24.
I was pretty pumped up to see College Game Day in Boise, Idaho last night. I jumped onto the Boise State bandwagon when the Broncos "upset" the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. To the day, I can still picture that last drive, Adrian Peterson's touchdown, Boise State's halfback pass touchdown and the Statue of Liberty two point conversion. When I watch the highlights on youtube, I still get goosebumps.
I also like watching the Broncos because in my mind they are still a "Cinderella team." Until they get the opportunity to play for the National Championship, they'll still have a lot to prove in the nations' eyes.
Around the rest of the college football scene, I was impressed and disappointed. I was impressed with (University of California, Los Angeles) UCLA's performance as they knocked off Texas. The Longhorns are always ranked high and performing well but I was glad to see the Bruins knock them off. UCLA didn't get a fluke win either, they earned the victory and gained respect in the Pac-10.
I am a bit disappointed with the NCAA due to scheduling. I like to watch competitive football games. I understand teams need victories and one loss could end a school's run at a National Championship but I hate watching and hearing about blow out games when you knew the other team didn't have a change. I bleed Michigan true and through but come on, I knew they were going to blow out Bowling Green. Bowling Green doesn't have nearly the talent that the Wolverines carry. Also, Ohio State putting up over 70 points on Eastern Michigan. Really?? Do you need to put an imprint into their helmets or something? I heard all this glamorous talk about Terrelle Pryor's day, but for real, he beat the Eastern Michigan Eagles!
I received my facts from yahoo.com/sports.
I've loved sports for as long as I can remember. I enjoy watching sports, talking sports and most of all, expressing my opinion on sports. I am Ben Kramer and I hope to bring to you my thoughts and opinions on NCAA college football throughout the season. I have two years of experience writing Ferris State University football, hockey and softball and hope to use that experience in writing for Season Tickets. Thank you and enjoy. Cheers.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I have some personal crusades. I hate Boise State, I love pointing out how ESPN does stupid stuff constantly, I think the Situation should win Dancing With The Stars, and talking about how the Jets are just a slightly above average team. And I love pointing out crappier NFL teams and college football facts. Mark this all down.
The Vikings and Bears are overrated and have frauds written all over them. The Vikings are 0-2 and look old and sluggish. I don't expect them just to turn it on. Too many people are picking the Lions this weekend, but the Vikings are going to be chasing the Packers. The Bears (didn't) beat the Lions and then beat the 0-2 Cowboys. The offense isn't going to not turn the ball over or keep Cutler safe for long. They will start to lose in bunches.
The Lions will struggle to win more than 3 games this year, mostly because of Stafford being out. Even with Jahvid Best being able to carry the offense, the Lions defense showed they have a long way to go. Stafford was the key this season, and with him gone I don't like our chances in many games.
I feel less confident about the Bengals every week. Even when they win, Palmer will never be the same.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay are the top teams in the basement. Both 2-0, but it doesn't matter. KC will end up with 7 wins and Tampa Bay less than that. They are going to be hurting come December.
The Miami Dolphins are very good, like Wild Card good.
Alabama is the best team in the nation.
Jake Locker has pulled a Brian Brohm and turned down huge money to be drafted later in the year.
Ro-Tel and Velveeta is the best combination in the world.
The Big Ten is the second best conference in the nation, and the gap between them and the SEC is pretty close.
USC keeps winning and will keep winning. Thanks, Pete.
Nebraska will win the Big 12 (10) and has an amazing chance to win the Big 10 (12) next season.
So enjoy this weekend of football!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
1.) The woes that have plagued the defensive secondary are now starting to infect the linebackers and linemen. There were several missed tackles, and UMass drove down the field numerous times as a result. The run defense was very poor, and if Michigan wants to continue winning, they must have at least one phase of the defense playing better.
2.) It seems as though all the Big 10 teams are struggling with special teams, and Michigan would be considered one of those teams. Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen, the kickers, are a combined one for five this season, which is really quite bad. This game, however, also showed that Michigan is lacking in punting, kicking off, and is not very dynamic in punt and kick returns. All I want as a Michigan fan is to have a kicker who can make some field goals on a regular basis, and another Steve Breaston.
3.) If Michigan wants to keep up the winning streak, the offense is going to be the key. I would have been even more upset with this game if Michigan had only won 14-10 or something like that, but if their defense is going to be bad, at least they have an offense that can put up points. I know it was against UMass, but Denard Robinson still looked really good connecting on some deeper passes while reducing his running attempts slightly.
4.) Michigan really needs to work at scheduling FCS schools that are not good at football. Instead of top 25 teams, try Dartmouth, Cornell, or Howard.
- Here are several links to stuff related to Michigan football:
1.) Awesome Video that makes fun of the trailer for the M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Happening, that implies that Denard Robinson is the Happening. Also includes some pretty awesome shots of Notre Dame's head coach Brian Kelly.
2.) The University of Michigan tells several companies and businesses that they have to stop printing T-shirts and other apparel with Michigan football players' names or likenesses on them. Most of these have been for Denard Robinson, but there are some other players that this concerns as well, one of which was Tate Forcier - no complaints with that.
3.) Brian Cook for Mgoblog provides a very in depth review of the defense against UMass. Included is a breakdown of plays, formations, and several videos and photos.
4.) Rich Rodriguez will look everywhere for a kicker. Even random students have a chance.
5.) A pie chart of Michigan's offense according to Spencer Hall of Everyday Should be Saturday.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
1. Mark Dantonio and the MSU Spartans: Dantonio made the gutsiest call of his career, and it paid off. If you haven't seen "Little Giants" yet there you go. State should have lost, and played much worse than I thought they would versus an average ND team. But they did have an ultra dramatic win in OT at home (much like against Michigan last season) and they are ranked with an FCS opponent coming to town. Dantonio will probably miss the Northern Colorado with his heart attack, but should recover and provide a big boost down the stretch. He will make a full recovery, luckily, and be making more big calls on the sidelines soon.
2. Jahvid Best: We saw the coming out party for Jahvid Best yesterday, with his 200+ yard effort and 3 TDs, to go with his 2 TDs in Week 1. Hes explosive, dangerously fast and has great vision. The only thing I am worried about is him getting hurt, but like I think of Stafford now, I believe his injuries in college were all of the freak variety. Only time will tell, and the Lions have their most explosive and exciting player since Barry Sanders.
3. Cincinnati Reds: I have finally accepted that the Reds will make the playoffs. I know they locked it up months ago, but still, its the Reds. All that young talent they assembled finally came together, and Votto is having an MVP year. It is a great year for baseball, as small market low budget teams will win the NL West, East and Central and Wild Card, the AL West, AL Wild Card, and AL Central. Small teams are starting to assert themselves, as the Cubs, Red Sox and the Tigers have all faltered this year.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Let me start out by saying that, as a Michigan fan, this article may seem biased, but I will do my best to present a decent argument. But hey, can you blame me? I'm starving for something good to come out of Ann Arbor in the fall.
Anyway, two games in, Michigan is 2-0, ranked in the top 25, and looking pretty good. The offense seems to be clicking with Denard Robinson running the offense, and our defense has only looked JV on some plays. We've played to teams that have been projected to have better than average seasons, so at least for now, Robinson's insane stats don't look inflated. Yet, the voice in the back of my head says, “You've seen this before, and it didn't end pretty.” True, but something seems different this year. Maybe it's just because I am such a big Michigan fan, but there are several differences from last year to this year.
First of all, Denard Robinson is not Tate Forcier. Last season, Tate came in the clear favorite having been able to practice with the team all spring and already knowing much of the playbook. One could say that he was almost the started by default. Much of his success came from being able to improvise and from being able to throw. He succeeded from freelancing and coming up with his own way for getting out of tight spots. This worked, until teams recognized that he really wasn't running the Rich Rodriguez system and played to stop him. The rest of the season didn't go as well. This season, Robinson came in as the favorite and immediately showed why. Last season, he could only run, but this season, he has improved his throwing ability, and it has really elevated his game. What's most impressive, though, is the way that he runs the offense. Everything he does was designed by Rodriguez and is in his system. His monster runs are happening as a part of the offense, not because the offense isn't doing anything and he needs to bail them out. This is good because teams have to prepare for, not only him, but the entire offense. Of course, the question will be if he can stay healthy for ten more games. He's already sat out a couple plays for little dingers, so a season ending injury may not be that far off.
Secondly, the offensive line has looked really amazing. One of the best stats after game one against Connecticut was the zero sacks allowed by the unit. After missing most of the second half of last season, David Molk, the center, has stayed healthy so far and is anchoring the line. Also showing major improvement from last season are the tackles Mark Huyge and Perry Dorrestein. They were the weakest part of the line last season, and now are holding their own. There is still room for improvement, but the feeling that I got knowing they were going to be starting is diminishing. As a whole, the line is opening up lanes for Robinson and giving him enough time to pass.
Finally, while the defensive secondary has looked quite bad on some plays, the rest of the defense hasn't looked too bad. Craig Roh has looked really good, and our defensive line has looked to be at least average. Jonas Mouton has already improved a lot from last year and is looking like a more than capable linebacker. The fact that half of the defense has improved has been really overshadowed by the secondary, though, and that is warranted.
Despite this, there are also several areas to be concerned about. Last season, Michigan started 4-0 and then stumbled to 5-7 with their only victory coming against an FCS school, so there is no reason for that to not happen again. Here are several scenarios that potentially could happen with serious effects:
Scenario One: Denard Robinson gets hurt. Every time Robinson takes a hit, I pray that he gets back up, and the two times he hasn't gotten up right away caused my heart pressure to rise to unhealthy levels. Forcier was the hero for the first four games last season, but this season, he seems to be the third stringer. That means that the likely starter, should Robinson go down, would be true freshman Devin Gardner. While he has he potential to be a good quarterback, starting a true freshman, especially coming into the Big Ten season, can never be good. Also, he hasn't had enough time to develop and mature as a college quarterback, and he certainly hasn't had time to take in the playbook completely.
Scenario Two: More than one big game comes down to making a field goal. One area that Michigan has really showed that they are well below average is in the kicking game. Brendan Gibbons has looked absolutely terrible; he's one for four for the season, and against Notre Dame looked like he was trying to miss. If any game comes down to a last second field goal, we are finished. Also, the points that we're missing out on is depressing. To win close games, we have to be able to make field goals.
Scenario Three: The secondary starts to be even more awful. Against Notre Dame, we gave up a long touchdown to a tight end. Some of the game, they made alright plays, but in any game the rest of the season, if they look like they did on that play, Michigan is going to lose. If more teams challenge them, and if they can't stop them, we might as well let the other teams score quickly to give Robinson more time with the ball.
In the coming three weeks, Michigan plays Massachusetts, Bowling Green, and at Indiana. We should be able to win all three games and give Robinson a bit of a break. Look for Michigan to be 5-0 heading into the big October 9 match-up with the Michigan State Spartans.
A player can run to the end zone, then jump as high as he can, then hold the ball over the goal line, then get pushed and drop the ball, but still get a touchdown for his effort. But when a player catches the football cleanly, gets two feet, his two knees, his butt and his arm down then gets up and after all that then drops the ball, that is not a TD. When a player catches a ball then lands in the end zone, the play is dead and he scores, he could fumble the ball or spike it or sign it and give it to a kid. A running back can run to the goal line, get hit, and muscle over the line and the play stops instantly. He can drop the ball, fall backwards, get the ball stripped, etc. It doesn't matter. Of course, you have to remember, this was the Lions meaning the NFL's D-team refs were working the game.
I may be slowly but surely turning into the old mean blogger who complains all the time. But I just can't let the terrible refs and Boise States of the world get away with their transgressions.
Other than the terrible call, there was a game being played. A game where the Mr. Franchise Matthew Stafford was hurt. Great. It is a throwing shoulder injury, which was not the shoulder he hurt last season, but it is the more serious shoulder of the two. If he goes down for more than a few games (looking like 2-6 games), the Lions will be hurting bad. Hill just couldn't move the ball, and unless he really takes command of the offense, the Lions will have to find a way to win elsewhere. Best looked pretty impressive, as the O-line was getting zero push and he was on his own. He made some nice plays as a receiver too. Calvin Johnson pulled a typical Megatron and didn't show up until late and made some OK plays. Either the Lions need to force feed him the ball, or he has to make more opportunities for himself. I'm certain its the former. The O-line played poorly and there were Bears in the backfield on every play. That led to poor play by the entire offense that couldn't find any rhythm in the second half. If the Lions played better on the line, the entire offense will open up and show its talent. If not, expect more of the same you saw against the Bears.
On the defensive side, Vanden Bosch played like the workhorse we all have been waiting for. He showed relentless pursuit, chasing down wide receivers and racking up 10 (at least) tackles playing like a leader of a defense should. Suh was a beast, Delmas is a missile, and our secondary looked improved. Now it has to build on this and be consistent. The linebackers need to make more plays, and with Levy in the lineup I hope we can see more production.
Bottom line, the defense played better than I thought and when they are healthy, they could be very improved. Shaun Hill needs to start to pick stuff up quick, or the Lions won't win any games without Stafford. Stafford could be out anywhere from 2-6 weeks, so it could be until late October till we see him again. Calvin Johnson, and the rest of the team, needs to take this tough loss as motivation to work through it and come out better for it. I am confident, for the first time in years, that the leadership is in place that they will do that. It is unfortunate that the next few weeks have tough games, but the Lions need to rise to the occasion and play hard and tough like this week. Sometimes you can make up for a lack of talent with toughness and grit. Only sometimes though. We won't win a division that way.
It should not have come down to that controversial play. The Lions gave up ten points before halftime and couldn't do anything on offense in the second half. But the Lions played well enough to win, and hopefully those efforts become common this season.
Friday, September 10, 2010
1. Drew Brees: Drew made some excellent throws and for one week held off the Madden Curse. Sure, he didn't throw for 5 TDs, but he was his usual awesome self. And they had plenty of shots of his son (awwwww!) and his wife with another kid on the way. Expect more great games from a top 5 QB in the league.
2. Saints Defense: Holding the Vikings to ten points is impressive, and they won a slugfest without Darren Sharper. The defense was overrated last year, and they would not have been given any love if they didn't play like they did last night. Sure, Favre is old and without Rice, but they should score more than twice in a game. Was this what we will see from Favre all year? Only time will tell.
3. The person who probably got fired today for the choice of entertainment at last night's pregame: When I think of the NFL, I think of Taylor Swift and the Dave Matthews Band. Trying to expand your fan base is one thing, picking two artists who make no sense is another. The halftime shows have been incredibly bad, and someone needs to be hired to fix this. Stupid Janet Jackson ruining everything again!
Monday, September 6, 2010
They didn't even try to mask it. Brent said about 1,000,000 times Boise is a well coached team. Wow, they are so well coached they had over 100 yards in penalties and only got to such a big lead because Va Tech handed them 17 points. And then, they are so well coached, they give up that lead, only to get it back because Beamer pulled a Beamer and played not to lose.
When BSU was driving to win the game late, Kirk about anointed Kellen Moore the next coming of Joe Montana as he led the drive down the field. Then when BSU had another stupid call go their way (with a Big Ten crew, could have been Sun Belt for all I care) ESPN said how great a call that was. He was still running in bounds! That will get you tackled! Then they said how well coached BSU is.
Right now I hope you feel how upset I am.
ESPN brought up how the BCS should take note about Boise State was playing so well. They should also take note how well they take care of a minor league schedule. Their conference schedule is an incredible joke. If Alabama or Penn State played that schedule, we would hear about how they played cupcakes until they get to the BCS title game.
Kellen Moore, whose voice is a cross between a character from "Swamp People" and Kermit the Frog, led an aw shucks win over a very young defense. He should shred up a team who this time last year was thinking who they would ask to the Homecoming dance. If he is considered for the Heisman, The Expendables should win Best Picture.
If BSU plays for a National Title, I will be physically ill. Then I will laugh my butt off when Ohio State absolutely destroys them.
I wouldn't be so upset if BSU just won. And ESPN used journalistic integrity and didn't take sides. It was worse than if Keith Jackson called the USC spring game. If Brett Favre played for BSU, ESPN would have a heart attack. They obviously tried to woo us into thinking BSU is up with the elite teams in college football. I get it, Butler did CBS a huge favor this April. But don't shove it down our throats. If you stop for a second and realize BSU is a joke that plays joke teams and goes 7-7 against BCS conference teams since 2004 (thats right Boise State, you are a .500 team in the Big East), you will realize they should never make a bowl higher than the Sugar, or Pizza Pizza!
Brent Musberger is absolutely terrible and shouldn't be allowed near the press box ever again. His obviously Pro BSU agenda was nauseating. And Kirk, you were no better.
Shame on you ESPN. If you want to be biased, write a blog. Shame on you.
Michigan State University vs Western Michigan University: MSU looked like a good team playing their first game. The conditions were for a Big Ten October, and MSU played like it. Le'Veon Bell was the monster the Big Ten Network Presented by Ro-Tel said he would be. He is huge and fast and his 75 yard TD was very impressive. I'm pretty excited to see him play some more. Baker showed his quickness all day, being a great compliment to Bell. Caper sat out for the day, and could rest even more, maybe until Notre Dame in two weeks (the Spartans should destroy Florida Atlantic in the Little Caesars Pizza Pizza! Bowl Part 1) and when he does return he should create the terrible trilogy of backs. Keyshawn Martin looked bad, and Keith Nichol looked good. Cousins played well. Its hard to tell how good they were because of the competition. WMU should contend for the MAC title this season. Alex Carder, a redshirt sophomore starting his first game, looked very promising. He needs to fall out of love with short passes and getting hit so much, or Tyler Van Tubbergen will see some unscheduled playing time. Also, WMU has a great punter in Ben Armer. WMU gets an FCS school this weekend, so we won't know how good the Broncos are for a few more weeks.
University of Michigan vs Conneticut: Michigan looked much better than I thought, and people will still come out in droves to see them play. Denard Robinson looked good and the defense played probably their best game they will all season. If the offense can play like that all season, they will be very good. Tate Forcier will probably transfer soon, because there is no way he should play over Robinson or Gardner. Hope you didn't buy one of the stupid Tater tot shirts, or a jersey. Because they will be worthless soon enough. UConn should contend for the Big East this season, so the talent level is good. Now Michigan has to take on the rebuilding Fighting Irish, who beat Purdue at home fairly easily. That game should be a toss up. It is in South Bend though.
Central Michigan University vs Hampton: In Enos' first game as head coach, the Chips won big over an FCS foe, 33-0. I don't really count these games, because unless your awful (Ole Miss, Kansas) you should win these and inflate your stats. In other news, Dan LeFevour was cut by the Bears and picked up by the Bengals, who let go JT O'Sullivan. Now they are one sack from Jordan Palmer or Danny boy starting an NFL game. CMU plays Temple next week, which could be a MAC championship preview.
Eastern Michigan University vs Army: Army pulled out a close win in the last second. EMU hasn't won a game in over a year, and this was a golden opportunity for them. This rough loss could signal another double digit losing season for the Eagles. Army is much improved and should make a bowl game this year. But it is really really hard to give up a late touchdown drive to an option based team. EMU did pull it off though.
Also, Grand Valley State won their first game and Notre Dame beat Purdue to start the Kelly era.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
1. Michigan Wolverines: In front of the biggest crowd in college football history, the Wolverines dominated a team in contention for the Big East title this year. Denard Robinson, off the momentum of my You're Welcome shout out, had almost 400 yards total offense and looked like a real RichRod Spread Option QB. With a win over the rebuilding Irish next week, Michigan fans will return to their former annoying glory.
2. Jacksonville State and North Dakota State: 2 more FCS schools won yesterday, showing scheduling these cupcakes aren't always a good idea. ND State held the new look Kansas Jayhawks to 3 points in Turner Gill's debut. The team is missing a lot of talent from past success and the Jayhawks will occupy the bottom all year long in the Big 12. Jacksonville State came back from a huge deficit in the last quarter to upset Ole Miss, a team who only been a disappointment when a Manning isn't under center.
3. The Nine Teams Who Passed On Matt Leinart: Leinart just got released by the Cardinals, losing the starting job at least twice to Kurt Warner (would have made it a trilogy if Warner came back this year) and now Derek Anderson. The job was basically handed to him this year and he still lost it. Arizona would rather have Derek Anderson, who had only one good year, and two rookies as backups. If not for the signing of some free agent QBs, Arizona would be very very awful right now. Jay Cutler was taken with the pick after Leinart by the way.
Friday, September 3, 2010
6. Tottenham Hotspur: Nickname: Spurs. Manager: Harry Redknapp. Stadium: White Hart Lane. 2009/2010 Finish: 4th in the EPL. Rival: Arsenal. The Spurs had a very good year last year and look to build on that success. A new stadium has been proposed and the Spurs look to make the UEFA Champions League. The team has steadily improved since 2005, and the glory years were the 1980's before the EPL was in its current state.
5. Manchester City: Nickname: The Citizens. Manager: Roberto Mancini. Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium. 2009/2010 Finish: 5th in the EPL. Rival: Manchester United. Man City spends crazy to keep up with rival Man U, but don't experience the same success. In 1999, they were relegated to the third tier of English soccer. It was impressive for them to climb back, and now with the talent they have (Carlos Tevez) they could really take off, or get relegated.
4. Arsenal: Nickname: The Gunners. Manager: Arsene Wegner. Stadium: Emirates Stadium. 2009/2010 Finish: 3rd in the EPL. Rival: Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal, the team with cannons on their logo, are very popular and usually a top team in the EPL. They have an incredible fanbase all over the world, and are the 3rd most valuable club in soccer. They also have players who represent all over Europe. A fun team to watch.
3. Liverpool: Nickname: The Reds. Manager: Roy Hodgson. Stadium: Anfield. 2009/2010 Finish: 7th in the EPL. Rivals: Everton, Manchester United. Liverpool should improve this year if captain Steve Gerrard doesn't have a England failed again World Cup Hangover. Liverpool should score a ton of goals this year, and if Spanish National team backup Pepe Reina can stop some shots, the team should be very solid.
2. Manchester United: Nickname: The Red Devils. Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson. Stadium: Old Trafford. 2009/2010 Finish: 2nd in the EPL. Rivals: Liverpool, Manchester City, Leeds United. ManU always win, and the Red Devils are a truly global team. One of the most successful teams in soccer history, you may remember their B-team completely destroying the MLS All-Stars. The team looks like a World Cup All-Star team, led by Wayne Rooney, who according to a Nike commercial, is in a trailer park in England.
1. Chelsea: Nickname: The Pensioners, The Blues. Manager: Carlo Ancelotti. Stadium: Stamford Bridge. 2009/2010 Finish: 1st in the EPL. Rivals: Fulham, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United. Chelsea was the best team last year and should be this year. The team with a thousand rivals is also owned by a Russian oil gazillionaire like the Nets. Lampard, Drogba and Cech all play for Chelsea, whos fans include Bryan Adams. The team song is Blue is the Colo(u)r and the tradition is hooligans and winning.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Stadium: Michigan Stadium (109,901 cap.)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez (3rd season; 8-16)
Last Season: 5-7 (1-7)
Returning Starters (O/D): 7*/8
Offensive Formation: Spread
Defensive Formation: 3-3-5 (Sort of)
*Depending on how you look at the offensive line
Once again, Michigan comes into the final week before the opening game and has yet to name a starter. Unlike the last couple years, however, the two frontrunners don't have freshmen or walk-on attached to their names. The most likely options are sophomores Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, and the long shot would be freshman Devin Gardner. Really, the only reason Gardner would get the start is if both Forcier and Robinson are hurt come Saturday. If the spring game and positive news coming out of Ann Arbor were the criteria for choosing a starter, Robinson would have the edge. Forcier lost some steam this summer when news surfaced that he did not take practice all that seriously, and when he showed up to preseason drills without wings on his helmet. Since then, though, Forcier has regained his wings, and the race for starter is tight. On the plus side, either option seems reasonable. In a perfect world, Gardner would take a redshirt, but Rodriguez has already said he will not. Scouts have compared him to Vince Young in his playing style (!). He has the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks, but mechanics are still an issue. Definitely a positive for the future, though. The quarterback position is not one that Michigan fans need to be worried about heading into the season.
Slotted to start the season opener against Connecticut is either sophomore Vincent Smith or junior Michael Shaw. Behind these two running backs are several other viable options in sophomore Mike Cox, freshmen Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stephen Hopkins, or sophomore Teric Jones. As was the case with quarterbacks, this is another position where several players are going to see the field, and they should all be able to contribute. Shaw is a bigger back coming in at 6'1'' while Smith is smaller at 5'6''. I think it quite likely that while one of these two backs in named the starter, the other will be on the field just as much. Running backs coach Fred Jackson has been around awhile now, having coached at Michigan since 1992, so expect him to have his running backs ready. The position has the potential to be one of the stronger positions for Michigan this season.
Receivers and Tight Ends:
The only departure from this unit was receiver Greg Mathews. Projected starters for receivers against Connecticut are either sophomore Roy Roundtree, junior Darryl Stonum, junior Junior Hemingway, junior Martavious Odoms, or redshirt junior Kelvin Grady. Roundtree could be considered a breakout player for Michigan this year. Over the last four games of last season, his play really picked up, and he became the go-to guy for Forcier. Also, Roundtree has a knack for getting open, despite his unimpressive physical skills. Stonum has amazing speed, but this is moot if he can't adjust to the deep ball and make the catch. If you can get the ball to him, good things will happen. Junior Hemingway is finally a junior. Despite flashes of brilliance, injuries have kept him in check, and Michigan hasn't gotten much of of him. A little heavy for a deep threat, his run blocking ability should help out the run game. Odoms has been the most productive receiver the past two years. He's a small guy, but he hasn't shown the electric running ability that most small receivers have. He has the most experience and more catches than the other receivers on the team. Grady had some impressive plays shown on the fall highlight reel, so his play could be fun to watch. He's a former basketball player that switched over to football last year. Anything we can get from him is a plus. Starting at tight end is junior Kevin Koger. He started off the season last year with some amazing catches, but then faded off a little bit as the season went along. His best bet for being a major contributor would be to have Denard Robinson start at quarterback. The defense is going to have to respect Robinson's speed, and Koger will be the guy to exploit this. Assuming Robinson's deep touch is as refined as it was in the spring game, Koger could have an All-Big Ten season.
Starting in the depth chart for Connecticut are LT redshirt junior Mark Huyge, LG senior Stephen Schilling, C redshirt junior David Molk, RG redshirt sophomore Patrick Omameh, and RT senior Perry Dorrestein. The guards and center for the offensive line should be pretty solid. Schilling enters the season as the most experienced lineman; he has played every season. He's been alright, and this season should be another good season for him. Perhaps All-Big Ten honorable mention. Molk was the key player in the offensive line last season. Before he was injured, the offense was able to put together good drives while fending off the defense and allowing time for the quarterback to make plays. After, not so much. If he can remain healthy this year, he should be one of the Big Ten's best centers. Omameh almost started last year, and when he did play, his status as a freshman was only slightly evident. He should be able to take a step forward this year and contribute. The tackles are not so solid. Huyge and Dorrestein were the weakest links of the offensive line last season, and the fact that they are starting this year either means that they have improved greatly, or that they are starting because of seniority. One key backup is tackle redshirt freshman Taylor Lewan. Already wearing Jake Long's hallowed 77, he's added weight and muscle, and if the tackle position falters, expect him to get the nod.
Junior Mike Martin will start in the nose tackle position this Saturday. Martin has amazing quickness, which allows him to get into the backfield and create havoc. An example of this was in 2008 when he blitzed past a Wisconsin lineman and blasted quarterback Justin Sherer in the one fun game as a wolverine that season. One key backup for this position is third stringer sophomore Will Campbell. He came in last season as an extremely hyped recruit, but it was obvious that he was all body and very little technique. He's lost of some of the excess body, but hasn't added as much technique as would be liked. He has continued to develop, though, and he played well in the spring game. If he can improve more throughout the season, expect him to get more playing time, which would allow Martin to slide outside to defensive end where he is more suited to play anyway.
The starters here are redshirt junior Ryan Van Bergen and senior Greg Banks. Van Bergen should be pretty good here. Last season, he racked up five sacks and multiple QB pressures, and this year, sliding outside will only help him. He's got the size to be an NFL player at 6'6'', 280 pounds. Defensive line coach Bruce Tall coached Brandon Graham into an NFL draft first rounder, so expect Van Bergen to have a pretty good season. Banks did not have a lot of hype coming in, but he has played OK in the action he's seen. He's a better run defender than pass defender.
Here is where Michigan's 3-3-5 defense starts to take shape. Sophomore Craig Roh will play a position something like a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, which is why it is sort of a 3-3-5. One could easily call it a 4-2-5. Undersized as a freshman, Roh added 15 pounds this off-season, which should help him out vastly. He possesses the skills to have a promising pass rush, and he is also good at man-to-man coverage. Misdirection can get him, though, because he is not very good at changing directions. Expect Death Roh to have a good season. Senior Obi Ezeh or senior Mark Moundros gets the nod at middle linebacker. Moundros is a converted fullback, so not much is known about how well he will play this year. He is very enthusiastic about it, though. Ezeh has been something of a disappointment for Michigan. He looks like he should be really good, but for some reason, he has not been able to do well on the field. One possibility for this is because he has never had the same defensive coordinator in consecutive seasons. This year, Greg Robinson is back, so we'll see if this theory is correct. Last year, he was benched in favor of a walk-on, so he will have to work to hold his job this year. Senior Jonas Mouton finishes out the linebackers. When he blitzes, good things happen, but reading and reacting are not his specialty. He is a huge guy who is still learning how to play linebacker. Consider the season a success for him if there are no pictures of guys flying by a futilely spinning Mouton. He has decent upside, but don't expect any All-Big Ten honors.
This is the position of infinite pain. After the premature departure of undrafted Donovan Warren, this unit was already really thin. J.T. Turner is also gone, and Troy Woolfolk is out for the season with an injury, so the only cornerback with any experience is redshirt sophomore J.T. Floyd, and he was consistently over matched last year, so that might not be a good thing. Anyway, the starters this weekend are Floyd, and then senior James Rogers. Just to give insight into the lack of depth at cornerback, in one summer preview magazine, the writer wrote that Rogers isn't likely to play, and here he is, starting. Behind these guys are freshmen, and then doom. Highly touted recruit Cullen Christian comes in looking like a Marlin Jackson type player, but without good run support. Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott are also new this fall, and although they have little or no hype, maybe one of them will develop. Really, no matter who plays, this is Michigan's weakest position.
Here, we have the spur, bandit, and free safety positions. Starting at free safety is redshirt freshman Cam Gordan. If Denard Robinson didn't take all the preseason hype, Gordon would have been right up there. No one really knows how well he will play, but words like natural and hitter have been thrown around. Michigan could really use it if someone lives up to their hype. Starting at bandit is redshirt sophomore Jordan Kovacs. He was one of those players that started last year as a walk-on. He proved himself an alright tackler, and despite his physical limitations, is intelligent enough to have an impact. At spur is true freshman Carvin Johnson. He comes in with not terrific recruiting rankings, but from what has been seen of him so far, he looks like he will outperform those rankings.
After a steady season, Jason Olesnavage graduated, and he left the position wide open. The scholarship option is redshirt freshman Brendan Gibbons, and he is considered the favorite. Also vying for the start are redshirt freshman Seth Broekhuizen and redshirt junior Justin Meram. After looking alright in the spring game, this group is dispelling worries. Space commander Zoltan Mesko is now gone from Michigan, and in his place is true freshman Will Hagerup. He comes in a lock to start given that the next best punter on the team is Forcier. Punt returning will likely have auditions during the first few games, and the candidates are redshirt freshman Jeremy Gallon, Martavious Odoms, and redshirt sophomore Terrence Robinson. As long as one of them can hold on to the ball, I am fine with any one of them getting the start. The kick returner for this weekend is Darryl Stonum. His speed should help him out here, as long as he, too, can hold onto the ball.