Football Quick Hits: Michigan Fills Coaching Vacancy with Adam Braithwaite

By · Saturday, February 13, 2010 · 4:37 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Just like a few weeks ago, I’ve been busy with school and have had a bunch of news pile up.  As a result, I’ve separated quick hits into different posts for football, basketball, and hockey.

  • Rich Rodriguez filled the vacancy on his coaching staff by promoting quality control assistant Adam Braithwaite to safeties/outside linebackers coach.  Braithwaite’s experience as a position coach/coordinator is mainly limited to lower divisions, but he was a graduate assistant for Rodriguez at West Virginia and a quality control assistant the last two seasons at Michigan.  To me this was a pretty “meh” move, but I guess Rodriguez wanted some continuity considering Braithwaite has been around the team for a couple years.
  • This move means that Greg Robinson is now in charge of coaching the inside linebackers and Tony Gibson is responsible for the cornerbacks and free safeties.  Gibson is also now the team’s special teams coordinator.  Regarding that move, the release said this: “Rodriguez will continue to have all of the coaches remain involved with a certain phase of special teams, but Gibson will manage that phase of the game on a daily basis and on game day.”
  • Before Rich Rodriguez’s press conference on signing day, I wondered to myself if any questions would be about Demar Dorsey, who has an interesting past, to say the least.  Well, there were multiple questions about Dorsey and his brushes with the law, but Rodriguez came to his future player’s defense each time before the media was finally told to move on.  The media did move on at the press conference, but the Free Press followed up with a lengthy article detailing what exactly Dorsey has done.  The article sheds some light on the type of trouble he has been in and includes some quotes from Dorsey on what happened and why he decided to come to Michigan.  One of the big reasons he picked Michigan is to escape the type of people that have brought him down in the past, though he already is trying to do that and (knock on wood) hasn’t been in any trouble since 2008.  I certainly understand some of the concern over taking a player like Dorsey, but I’m glad he is coming to Michigan and hope he is a changed person.
  • Somebody who isn’t a changed person is Drew Sharp.  I say that because, unsurprisingly, he was a huge douchebag about the whole Dorsey situation and made some extremely unprofessional comments.  Like Rob Parker, I will never understand why Sharp has a job and manages to get on ESPN as often as he does.  It’s so blatantly obvious that Sharp’s schtick is simply to write and say negative/controversial things to drum up attention.  He isn’t anything close to an actual journalist (this picture from MVictors certainly seems to show that) and is nothing more than an assclown, as the folks at the MZone used to call him.
  • Rich Rodriguez said there was one school in the Big Ten doing a lot of negative recruiting.  He didn’t name the school, but he did say that it wasn’t Ohio State.  Rumors suggest that the school in question is either Minnesota, Purdue, or Michigan State.  Based on how big of a problem Danny Hope seems to have with Rodriguez, my bet is that Purdue is the school behind the negative recruiting.
  • Antonio Kinard appears to be the only member of the 2010 recruiting class in danger of not qualifying.
  • AnnArbor.com put together a comprehensive Q&A with Michigan’s 2010 recruiting class.
  • Also from AnnArbor.com is an interview with Devin Gardner from signing day.
  • MGoBlog has video and transcripts of interviews from signing day with early enrollees and coaches.
  • Ricardo Miller hopes he can be the next Braylon Edwards.
  • Austin White put in a lot of extra work last fall in order to be able to enroll early.
  • Baquer Sayed, a receiver from Dearborn Fordson, will join the Michigan football team next season as a preferred walk-on.  Sayed had offers from a couple MAC schools, but he opted to play for Michigan as a walk-on instead.
  • The Big House Blog has more news on recruits who will join the team as walk-ons as well as an interview with kicker Jeremy Ross, who is from Pioneer High School.
  • Mark Moundros will line up at fullback and linebacker this spring.
  • Had Calvin Magee got the South Florida job, he would have wanted to take some Michigan assistants with him, including Greg Frey, Tony Dews, and the newly-promoted Adam Braithwaite.
  • The Board of Regents met on signing day for an informal meeting to discuss the NCAA’s investigation of practicegate.  No real news has come out of the meeting, but hopefully it is a sign that the investigation is close to wrapping up.
  • There is a photo gallery on MGoBlue giving us a look inside the suites in Michigan Stadium.
  • “72 percent of the suites and 77 percent of club seats” that will open in the Big House next season have been sold.
  • Mike Hart would like to be Michigan’s head coach someday.
  • The Michigan Daily’s Andy Reid wrote a great article about Antonio Bass.
  • Tyrone Wheatley has been hired by Syracuse to be the Orange’s running backs coach.
  • Teryl Austin, a former Michigan assistant, is Florida’s new defensive coordinator.  Urban Meyer sure likes former Michigan assistant coaches.
  • Former Michigan coach Mike DeBord has landed in Chicago as the Bears’ tight ends coach.
  • Former Michigan players Jonathan Goodwin and Adrian Arrington and former coaches Mike Mallory and Terry Malone are Super Bowl champions as a result of the Saints’ victory over the Colts last Sunday.
  • The NCAA has proposed some new rules for the 2011 season.
  • A 13-year-old quarterback committed to USC.  Weird doesn’t even begin to describe this news.
  • It was only a matter of time, but Big Ten expansion rumors involving Texas have popped up in recent days.
  • Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said that if the Big Ten were to call, the Cornhuskers would certainly listen.
  • Michigan State changed its mind and is no longer going to change its logo as a result of all the backlash it received over the news.  It is going to change its shade of green, although that’s not really all that big of a deal.

Wednesday Quick Hits: DeBord Hired by Seahawks

By · Wednesday, March 5, 2008 · 1:00 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is no longer unemployed. After not being rehired by Rich Rodriguez (there were rumors that he was offered to stay at U-M in a lower capacity), DeBord has moved on to the NFL, where he will be working for the Seattle Seahawks.
    Former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord accepted a job on the staff of the Seattle Seahawks, a team spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

    The spokesman said the exact job title is not yet determined. DeBord has extensive experience with the offensive line and tight ends.

    I wish DeBord good luck in the NFL. Although I hated his play-calling as Michigan’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons, it’s good to see him get back to work somewhere (far, far away from the Michigan offense).

  • Former Michigan linebackers coach Steve Szabo is now employed by Cornell.
  • Lloyd Carr was honored last night for being named the 2007 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year.

    UPDATE: John Heuser also wrote an article on the event.

  • MLive has the audio from John Beilein’s portion of the this week’s Big Ten Teleconference.

Mallett Officially Leaves Michigan

By · Wednesday, January 9, 2008 · 3:26 PM |  Share | 3 Comments 

The speculation has been there ever since Rich Rodriguez was hired, but it no longer is speculation. Quarterback Ryan Mallett is officially going to transfer, and has left Michigan.

Ryan Mallett has left the Michigan football program, and the quarterback might be reunited with his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“He’s on his way home,” Jim Mallett told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We don’t know where he’s going to go yet, but we need to do something quick. We’re going to visit three, four or five schools.”

The official announcement comes after Rich Rodriguez basically hinted that this is what would happen yesterday. Mallett skipped the team’s first meeting together with Coach Rod, and you could obviously tell that Coach Rod took a Bo Schembechler-like approach with the whole situation.

As for Mallett, Rodriguez declined to give many details. But when pressed on the freshman’s status, he replied: “I don’t care. He’s not playing for Michigan. I’m concerned with who’s playing for Michigan.”

The only thing missing from that quote was, “The TEAM, the TEAM, the TEAM!” Like I said, it is an approach very similar to the one Bo took when he was Michigan’s head coach, and it is the correct one. Making one player more important than the rest of the team always is a mistake, but for a new coach, it would really be bad.

Mallett’s dad mentioned that his son is considering transferring to Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and UCLA. I really don’t care where he ends up, but please do not go to Tennessee. I don’t care if they do hire Scot Loeffler and/or Mike DeBord. But Fat Phil? Really? You can do better than that, Ryan.

I obviously would have liked to see this situation play out differently, but I wish Mallett good luck in the future. In the end, this is probably best for Mallett, as there are rumblings of some problems between he and his teammates because of some maturity problems. I won’t elaborate on that subject anymore because I don’t want to trash him, but for anyone that thinks Coach Rod pushed him out the door, Mallett made his decision pretty clear before Coach Rod ever had a chance to do that.

Like I said already, I wish Mallett good luck in the future and hope he succeeds. I know most Michigan fans had big expectations for him once he was poised to be the starter for the next few seasons, but things chance. Oh well, at least he finished his career at Michigan with a 3-0 record in games that he started and looked to have a lot of potential. If he can take care of some of those reported “maturity issues,” then he will be a great quarterback.

Answering Some Questions About the Hire

By · Monday, December 17, 2007 · 2:38 AM |  Share | 8 Comments 

Now that Rich Rodriguez has been hired, there are many questions being asked covering a wide range of topics. To help answer everything out there, I’m going to give my take on the various question marks surrounding the new coach.

1. How will this affect recruiting?

Hiring Rich Rodriguez will have a big effect on recruiting, just as any new head coach would. There will likely be a few commits that opt to go somewhere other than Michigan, but at the same time, there will likely be a few recruits out there that now opt to go to Michigan. It wouldn’t surprise me if one or two came right from West Virginia’s recruiting class, but the majority of new commits at this point likely will be recruits that have already been considering Michigan and West Virginia.

2. Staying on the topic of recruiting, any predictions as far as who will stay and who will go?

A lot of this is based on speculation, but here is my take on the recruiting class as it stands right now:

RB Sam McGuffie – Probably will stay since his speed is a good fit in the spread offense. Just look at Steve Slaton and Noel Devine.

RB Mike Cox – Likely will stay, but I have absolutely no reasoning behind saying that. That prediction is more of a hunch.

HB Christian Wilson – I wouldn’t say I expect him to decommit, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all. An H-back type of player in the spread offense isn’t exactly the greatest fit in the world, but West Virginia did utilize its fullback a lot, so maybe Wilson just needs to be shown how he would be used before deciding one way or another.

WR Darryl Stonum – He will be here. Stonum is enrolling early, meaning he will be at Michigan next month, so there’s no reason to believe he won’t honor his commitment.

TE Kevin Koger – Koger is a Michigan fan first and foremost. Although the tight end is downplayed in the spread, if Rodriguez opts to air it out with Mallett at QB, then Koger would get a lot of passes thrown in his direction. Call it a hunch again, but I think he stays.

TE Brandon Moore – Ditto for Moore. Since he is an athletic tight end, I really think he would do well in R-Rod’s offense. Again, it’s a hunch, but I think he stays.

OT Rocko Khoury, OT Elliott Mealer, OT Dann O’Neill, OG Kurt Wermers – No solid info on any of the linemen, but my guess is that all end up coming to Michigan. 1 decommitting wouldn’t shock me at all, but I think all decide to stay with the Wolverines.

LS George Morales – He will stay as long as his scholarship offer is honored. My guess is that it is just as a courtesy to the previous coaches and Morales himself.

DT Mike Martin – Probably will stay.

LB Kenny Demens – Seems like he is true blue through and through. I don’t see him leaving.

LB J.B. Fitzgerald – Probably will stay.

LB Marcus Witherspoon – Probably will stay.

CB Boubacar Cissoko – I think Boo Boo stays. He has been talking about taking visits to have a back up plan, but now that a coach is hired I doubt he actually goes on any.

Recapping my thoughts from above, things look good. I may be a tad too optimistic, but hopefully only a couple or no recruits decide to decommit.

3) Any recruits more likely to come to Michigan now that Rodriguez is hired?

Absolutely. The #1 recruit in the nation (Terrelle Pryor) has already added Michigan back to his list. It appears that he is a heavy lean to Ohio State, but now that R-Rod has come to Michigan things change quite a bit. I would still be surprised if U-M was able to land Pryor, but man, I can’t even imagine how awesome that would be. Pryor is said to be the next Vince Young by some, so you can bet Rodriguez would love to have him as his QB.

On top of Pryor, there are two West Virginia recruits that Michigan will probably have a shot at now. Offensive guard Josh Jenkins and wide receiver D.J. Woods both are listed as soft verbals already, and at the same time both have Michigan on their “schools of interest” list, so I would assume they will give a look at the Maize and Blue now that Rodriguez is there.

4) How will Mallett fit in the spread offense system? Will he transfer?

I am already sick of hearing about how Mallett won’t fit in the system Rodriguez runs and how it will be funny to watch him run the option. That is all completely irrelevant because Rodriguez adapts to the abilities of his quarterback. It is probably fair to assume he’d rather have a dual threat QB that can run as well as pass, but if Mallett is his only option then that is fine. Back when he was the offensive coordinator at Tulane, Rodriguez’s quarterback was Shaun King, a drop-back passer. The offense was great back then and I see no reason why it can’t be with Mallett. On top of all that, Mallett is much more comfortable in the spread/shotgun style of offense since that is what his high school team ran.

As far as the subject of transferring goes, it is far too early to even consider that possibility. It definitely is out there, but until we know more about the coaching staff and recruiting, I’m not even going to begin talking about that yet.

5) What coaches from the old staff will be retained?

I’m really not sure who will stay, but I would say the three most likely to be back are Scot Loeffler, Fred Jackson, and Erik Campbell. As far as who is gone, I would guess that Mike DeBord (YES!), Andy Moeller, Steve Stripling, Steve Szabo, Vance Bedford, and Mike Gittleson (YES!) all are not retained. That leaves Ron English, who in my opinion is a toss-up at this point. I would actually like to see him return since the defense has been pretty good against non-spread teams that don’t have a mobile QB. Since Rodriguez is all about the spread, my guess is that he could help English learn how to defend it. At the same time, keeping English would give Rodriguez an option to not use the 3-3-5, which probably wouldn’t be as successful in the Big Ten as it is in the Big East.

6) Early guess at who follows Rodriguez to Ann Arbor from the West Virginia coaching staff?

Some stalkers dedicated fans from West Virginia followed Rodriguez to the airport and saw him leave for Toledo (where the plane was headed) with WVU offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson. Other than those two, I really have no idea how the staff will be put together.

7) When will the official switch of head coaches happen?

Since it is believed that Rodriguez will not coach West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl for obvious reasons, I would say right after the Capital One Bowl is finished, even though MGoBlue.com lists Michigan as having two head coaches right now.. My guess is that Rodriguez will spend his time until then putting together a coaching staff and getting adapted to Ann Arbor. Aside from all that, I would hope he tells Ron English how to defend the spread so Michigan has a chance to beat Florida (Urban Meyer did say his offense is based heavily off R-Rod’s).

8) Rate this hire.

I will give it an A. It could have been an A+ had it happened before all of the national embarrassment, but Bill Martin did a good job in the end. The saying about a “W” being the only thing that matters at the end of the day works in this situation as getting a great coach at the end of the day is all that matters, and Michigan did just that.

Ron English Interviews for the Michigan Job

By · Monday, November 26, 2007 · 6:22 PM |  Share | 2 Comments 

At the end of College Football Live today on ESPN, Rece Davis mentioned that current Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English interviewed for the Michigan head coaching job today. Before any of you start to panic or something like that, just know that this basically a courtesy interview. Mike DeBord will get one as well, and although neither are serious candidates for the job, Michigan is going to interview both of them since they are the current coordinators.

Something that interviewing Ron English will take care of is the issue of having a minority candidate. It sounds wrong, but this move is also likely for P.R. purposes. With English being interviewed, Michigan can say that they did give a minority candidate a shot at getting the job. Is that how things should work? Probably not, but that’s just how it is now-a-days with media perception being so important.

UPDATE: Confirmation of the English interview is coming in from the Free Press. Also from the article is that DeBord will interview tomorrow. Again, this is only out of courtesy, so don’t freak out too much.

The Case Against Kirk Ferentz

By · Monday, November 26, 2007 · 2:37 AM |  Share | 16 Comments 

If you haven’t heard by now, rumors of Kirk Ferentz being offered the Michigan head coaching job dominated the Internet yesterday. There have been rumblings that Ferentz would be a candidate for the last few months since talk of Carr retiring began, but initially it appeared that any look would be a short one. Bill Martin himself said when describing his criteria for a coach that he wants someone that wins 75% of his games, and that is certainly something Kirk Ferentz hasn’t done in the last few years and overall as a head coach. With that statement alone many figured that Ferentz would be a candidate but nothing more. Fast forward to now and the complete opposite is being discussed.

I’m going to first address the rumors, which have originated from various sources in the last 24 hours. By sources I mostly mean message boards, but as we saw with the news that Lloyd Carr would retire after the Ohio State game, rumors do turn out to be true despite being from message boards. On a similar note, MGoBlog posted yesterday that Ferentz had been offered the job according to his sources. Some might say that it’s just a blog, but he did break the news that Carr would retire on the Monday after the OSU game, so take it for what it’s worth.

As far as my opinion on this subject goes, I’ll tell you straight up that I don’t want Ferentz to be the new coach. With Lloyd Carr retiring, I figured this would be the time for the Michigan football program to change for the better. A new coach could bring innovation, an exciting offense, and hopefully a return to being a national power every single year. Folks, Kirk Ferentz is not the man to bring those changes.

I will not deny that Ferentz is a good man and a good coach, but he is the complete opposite of what Michigan needs right now. The way I see it, Ferentz would come in and keep the program the way it is. He is a safe hire because change isn’t likely. The offense would still be conservative as usual, and most I’ve talked to feel like many of the assistants would be retained, specifically Mike DeBord, who would continue to be the offensive coordinator. That thought alone has me scared to death, because out of all the people I don’t want to see back in 2008, DeBord is at the top of my list. He would be fine to have on the staff, but not as the offensive coordinator, and I don’t even think I need to say why.

With so much negativity directed towards Ferentz, one really has to wonder why he is even a candidate led alone the current favorite to get the job. The first reason goes back to Mary Sue Coleman, the current president of the University of Michigan. Before coming to Michigan, Coleman served as president at the University of Iowa, and was there when Ferentz was hired. Since she helped hire him back then, it is assumed that she would like to hire him again, this time at Michigan. The general consensus is that assuming that would be correct as Coleman is pushing Ferentz for the job greatly. With that in mind, I hope to God that Bill Martin keeps her out of this whole process just as we saw with the basketball hire. If it were up to Coleman, Tommy Amaker never would have been fired, so I’m hoping Martin makes his own decision with the football hire as well.

The second reason why Ferentz is a candidate and possibly has already been offered the job is because of his ethics. Lloyd Carr ran a football program that showed no sign of doing anything against the rules, and for obvious reasons, the hope is that that continues with the new coach. In today’s college football world that is rare, but with Ferentz that same integrity would be preserved. Even though that is a great attribute to have, it should by no means overshadow the most important one of them all: winning.

As I have already said, I am strongly opposed to Kirk Ferentz being hired as the new head coach. I’m not completely sold on Les Miles at all, but multiply that doubt by a hundred and that’s how I feel about Kirk Ferentz. To provide reason as to why I feel this way, let’s first start with Iowa’s record before and after Ferentz became head coach of the Hawkeyes.

9 Years Before Kirk Ferentz:
1990: 8-4
1991: 10-1-1
1992: 5-7
1993: 6-6
1994: 5-5-1
1995: 8-4
1996: 9-3
1997: 7-5
1998: 3-8
COMBINED RECORD: 61-43-2 (winning % of .575)

9 Years Since Kirk Ferentz:
1999: 1-10
2000: 3-9
2001: 7-5
2002: 11-2
2003: 10-3
2004: 10-2
2005: 7-5
2006: 6-7
2007: 6-6
COMBINED RECORD: 61-49 (winning % of .554)

The main reason I included Iowa’s record for the 9 seasons prior to Ferentz becoming head coach is to point out that he didn’t take over a program that was dead last in the nation or something like that. In terms of overall winning percentage, Iowa has actually gone down in the last 9 years since Ferentz has been there, but I don’t put much stock in that considering how many losses he piled up in the first two seasons alone.

Looking at Ferentz season-by-season, you could see improvement of the program after 3 seasons. From 1-10 in his first season, Iowa was up to 7-5 in his third. After what I would categorize as the rebuilding years, Iowa was great for three seasons, winning at least 10 games in each. During that span from 2002-2004, the Hawkeyes compiled a combined record of 31-7, which was great, I won’t even deny that. If this coaching search would’ve taken place after the 2004 season, then I imagine most would be fine with hiring Ferentz given his recent success at the time. As great as that would’ve been back then, the search is now and we have seen the last 3 seasons at Iowa, which are simply average.

This is where my major concerns come in. In 2005, Iowa went 7-5, which was the same record that Michigan had that year. In 2006, Iowa dropped down to 6-7. Finally, this season Iowa went 6-6 and has a very small chance to go to a bowl game considering 9 other Big Ten teams are eligible. Had Iowa not lost its season finale to Western Michigan then they would be going bowling, but the upset put them in a tough position.

Getting back to Ferentz, you have to wonder how the Iowa program went from 3 straight 10+ win seasons to 3 straight mediocre seasons. I’ve read the excuses that he lost some great players and all that, but that is no excuse. A coach has to reload his talent, not rebuild. To go along with that, one of the bigger excuses I’ve read is that Ferentz is trying to recruit players to go to Iowa, which is a tough task by itself. Although I can’t disagree that recruiting at Iowa compared to Michigan is much tougher, I do have to point out that Ferentz has a dismal 3-6 record against Iowa State. ISU has had recruiting classes that rank far lower than Iowa’s since 2002, but the Hawkeyes still struggle with the in-state rival on a regular basis.

Even though neither program has out of this world recruiting, let’s compare the two programs since 2002 in terms of recruiting rankings (Rivals.com listed first, Scout.com listed second, average of the two listed third):

2002:
Iowa – 51, 40, 45.5
Iowa State – 30, 69, 49.5

2003:
Iowa – 43, 30, 36.5
Iowa State – 46, 60, 53

2004:
Iowa – 38, 41, 39.5
Iowa State – 42, 57, 49.5

2005:
Iowa – 11, 8, 9.5
Iowa State – 58, 50, 54

2006:
Iowa – 40, 40, 40
Iowa State – 63, 59, 61

2007:
Iowa – 28, 37, 32.5
Iowa State – 60, 69, 64.5

OVERALL AVERAGE:
Iowa – 35, 33, 34
Iowa State – 50, 61, 55.5

Although rankings are just rankings, you can easily see from the data above that Iowa has more talent than Iowa State. Despite that, the Hawkeyes have lost 2 out of its last 3 to Iowa State, and are 3-3 against the Cyclones since 2002. Think of it this way. You know how Michigan has had better recruiting classes compared to Michigan State since 2002, well that translates to a 6-0 record in that time frame. Have many of those games been very close finishes? Yes, but in the end Michigan won. For Iowa, a 3-3 record against a less talented in-state rival shouldn’t happen. If that same thing happened here at Michigan, you can bet it would piss off a lot of people.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you in order to prove why Michigan should not hire Kirk Ferentz, but in the end it all boils down to a couple of simple things. First, winning should be valued over a coach’s integrity. It is great to have a combination of both, but maintaining a squeaky clean record in terms of playing by the rules means nothing if you don’t win football games. Second, the Michigan football program needs modernization. The days of the conservative offense and stubbornness to make changes has to go if this program wants to ever think about winning a national title. In today’s college football world, unimaginative playcalling and lack of a modernized strength and conditioning program are two things that can completely hamper a team from becoming successful. We have seen that every year recently at Michigan, and more 8-4 or 7-5 types of seasons are going to come if changes aren’t made.

In the end I hope that Bill Martin understands that hiring Kirk Ferentz would be the wrong decision. This program needs change if it wants to compete for national titles on a yearly basis. If Ferentz is hired and we see more of the same, then things will only get worse as time goes by. That is why 10 years removed from a national title Michigan slowly has started to struggle more and more. We have already watched the game pass by some members of the current coaching staff, and my fear is that the same thing could happen with the new one if Ferentz is the coach.

To share your thoughts with Bill Martin on why Ferentz isn’t right for the job, you can e-mail him at this address: wcmartin@umich.edu.

Obviously, everything posted above is only my opinion, so if you want to try and convince me why Ferentz would be a good hire then go ahead. I’ve tried to warm up to the idea, but I keep going back to everything above. Plus, hiring Ferentz sends the message that Michigan is happy being above average most of the time and great every so often. The message with this hiring should be that this football team will be great year in and year out, and hiring Ferentz does not accomplish that goal.

Game #9 – Michigan (6-2) vs Minnesota (1-7) – Open Thread/Live-Blog

By · Saturday, October 27, 2007 · 11:45 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 
VS

6:39: I’m heading out, but I hope everyone enjoyed this live-blog. As I said, a scary start turned into a great 34-10 victory. Now, though, it’s time to get focused on the Spartans as this game will be a must-win. My guess is that it’ll be a noon start on the Big Ten Network since MSU lost today, so Comcast, get ready for a week of hell.

6:37: David Cone completes a pass on the last play of the game and Jake Long gets the Little Brown Jug out. It’ll stay in Ann Arbor as Michigan wins 34-10. It was a shaky start, but in the end it worked out just fine.

6:36: The last few runs have put Michigan over the 300-yard mark on the ground today. Add that to Mallett’s 234 yards passing (and Cone’s one 20-yard pass) and Michigan had a total of 562 yards.

6:33: Nick Sheridan comes in at QB to start the drive and now David Cone heads out on to the field. Also getting some action is wrestler Mike Milano, who runs for a 1st down. All 5’7″ (probably a little less than that) looks good out there.

6:30: On 4th and 5, Minnesota completes a pass but is a yard short. Michigan gets the ball back with 3:54 left and now can just run out the clock.

6:29: Brandon Harrison reads a screen perfectly and makes the tackle for a loss. It is now 3rd and 17 for the Gophers. A stop here could give the backups on offense a chance to come in and play.

6:26: Oh crap. Brandon Graham is hurt. He’s up now and is walking off the field by himself, but still appears to be in some pain. I’d say now is a good time to empty the bench as U-M is up 34-10. We can’t afford any injuries, especially at this point in the game.

6:21: With that long run, Brown now has 132 yards rushing on the day. Add that to Brandon Minor’s 157 yards and the Wolverines are closing in on 300 as a team. Here’s a trivia question: When was the last time Michigan had two running backs go for over 100 and when was the last time they rushed for this many yards as a team?

6:18: Carlos Brown breaks free and runs the ball 89 yards for a touchdown. Something we’re not used to seeing with Hart is breakaway speed, but Brown definitely has it as he just ran past the defense.

6:14: On 3rd and 12, Shawn Crable sacks Weber for a loss and Minnesota is forced to punt again. Also, Oregon just picked off Mark Sanchez, meaning the Ducks have defeated the USC Trojans. That loss to Oregon, as bad as it was, looks a lot better now as the Ducks are a top 5 team.

6:12: Minnesota converts on 3rd down for the 1st time today on an option to move the ball to into Michigan territory.

6:07: After the 40-yard TD reception, Mario Manningham now has 162 yards total on the day. Like I’ve been saying, the deep ball works, and thankfully Mike DeBord has been calling it more lately.

6:06: Gotta love the play-calling here (not even being sarcastic). Ryan Mallett goes deep and hits Mario Manningham in stride for the long touchdown. Mario gave the ball off to someone in the crowd, a move that is the trademark celebration of the Lions’ Roy Williams.

6:05: Mallett runs for a QB sneak and gets a 1st down to keep the chains moving.

6:03: Once again, ESPN Classic makes us miss a play as it suddenly is 4th and inches. How exactly? I’m not sure since the play wasn’t shown or replayed. Michigan is going to go for it. Think it’ll be a run left?

5:59: The 3rd quarter comes to an end and Michigan leads 20-10. Another touchdown or two can put this game out of reach, so finishing this drive is especially important.

5:58: Brandon Minor goes for 18 on 1st down. Minor did his part by hitting the holes, but the offensive lined opened some big ones for him. By the way, with that carry, Minor now has 158 yards rushing and Michigan is closing in on 200 as a team.

5:57: On 3rd and 2, Brandon Graham got into the backfield and sacked Weber for his 8th of the year. Another great defensive stand means it’s time for another Minnesota punt.

5:53: The extra point is good, so Michigan now leads 20-10. That long pass by Mallett to Manningham set up Carlos Brown to score after he had a solid couple runs of his own. Like I said earlier, Michigan should just continue to go deep as it has worked every time.

5:52: After the long pass, Carlos Brown shows off his skills and picks up 18 on a solid run to put the ball inside the 5, and then on the very next play takes it into the endzone for a Michigan touchdown.

5:51: Umm, nevermind. DeBord did call for Mallett to go deep and once again it works perfectly. Mallett threw another nice pass and Manningham made the catch right next to the sidelines.

5:50: Minor goes nowhere on 2nd down and Michigan now faces 3rd and 6. I say go deep, but I doubt DeBord lets Mallett do that.

5:49: After the punt, Minor fights for 8 yards, but a false start on the next play by Stephen Schilling backs it up to the 28-yard line.

5:48: On 3rd and long, Minnesota appeared to have a man open, but the pass was incomplete. Wolverines again rebound nicely on defense after giving up a few big plays to force the punt.

5:46: Screen to the WR gets the Gophers another 1st down and they are moving the ball. Defense has to get a stop. On 1st down, Minney fumbles the snap, but Weber falls on it.

5:45: Chris Graham gets a big hit on Bennett to stuff him for no gain after Minnesota picked up a first down.

5:40: Just as I said that Minor was having a great day, he goes for only 2 yards on the next 2 runs. Mallett then throws the ball into the ground on 3rd down and the drive officially stalls. Punt by Zoltan goes into the endzone as it was just over kicked this time.

5:39: Brandon Minor explodes for a 48-yard run on 1st down and takes the ball into Minnesota territory. Thanks to ESPN Classic, we missed half the play, but it was a very nice run by Minor. He’s been great today.

5:36: Penalty is a hold on Michigan, so the ball will be backed up 10 yards when Michigan’s goes out there on offense.

5:35: The pass on 3rd down is way overthrown. Another nice defensive stand, especially on 3rd down as Minnesota is 0-7 on 3rd down today. Punt goes back to the 21, but there is a flag.

5:34: Weber pulls a Mallett and fumbles on an exchange to the running back. He fell on it, but it’ll make it 3rd and 14.

5:33: Bennett carries the ball for a big gain up to the 41-yard line and then is stuffed on the next play.

5:29: Mallett took off when he couldn’t find anyone and didn’t get nearly enough for a 1st down. It looked like Mathews might have been open, but it doesn’t matter now. Zoltan punts it to the 21 where a fair catch is called. Another bad drive means it’s time for the defense to continue to play well.

5:28: Minor runs for a first down and then Brown loses 3 on the next play. On 2nd down, Mallett throws it over Mario’s head on a WR screen. 3rd and 13…

5:26: Carlos Brown returns the ball up to the 26 to open the first half. I say go deep early and often right now. It worked each time the Wolverines tried it in the 1st half, and right now, that seems to be the only way the offense gets going.

5:16: How about what Georgia did against Florida? Anyone else see that highlight? Georgia scored its first TD of the game and the entire team came out to celebrate. It drew a penalty, but at the half Mark Richt was interviewed and said that he’d be angry if they didn’t get a penalty after the first TD. I guess when you have so many problems beating a certain team, things like that are needed to shake things up. So far, it’s working as the Bulldogs lead 21-17 at the half.

5:03: Michigan appeared to be happy with just running the clock out, but they try a play-action after getting a 1st and Mallett fumbled again. He put the ball on the turf down by his own goal line, but luckily it was recovered by Michigan. After near disaster, the Wolverines smartly take a knee to run out the 1st half. 13-10 Wolverines lead. Check back in for the second half in around 15-20 minutes.

5:01: With the ball on the 15 after the punt, it’ll be interesting to see if Michigan just tries to run out the clock or actually tries to get down the field.

5:00: The pressure gets to Weber on each play and Minnesota goes 3 and out.

4:59: Bryan Wright kicks it off short again but the turf monster brings down the returner.

4:58: Minor should’ve been tackled for a loss but avoided the defender and cut right to get the TD. With 2:49 to go, the defense just needs to keep Minnesota off the board for the remainder of the half.

4:57: Brandon Minor gets into the endzone for a much-needed touchdown. That was a very nice drive with the balance of passing and running, and now the Wolverines control a 13-10 lead.

4:55: A screen to Manningham gets the ball up to the 4 and on 3rd down, Minnesota gets called for pass interference. 1st and goal from the 2 now for U-M.

4:53: On 3rd and 6, Mallett hits Manningham as he gets another nice catch. The pass was right there and Mario made the catch. The pass got down to the 5-yard line, but a false start by Ciulla will back it up 5 yards.

4:52: Mallett had Arrington with some room to work with but threw it over his head.

4:51: Minor cuts to the outside and crosses midfield for a big run and then does it again on the very next play for a gain of 12 or so yards.

4:50: Mallett scrambles for a gain of 7 yards. It was a nice run, but he’s got to protect the ball better.

4:47: Donovan Warren makes a good play on the coverage and the pressure by Taylor was also nice to see. Punt to Mathews is returned to the 33 where Michigan will take over. A scoring drive here would be nice. Get the lead before the half (5+ minutes to go).

4:46: Obi Ezeh tips a pass on 1st down and a run goes for only a couple yards on 2nd. HUGE 3rd and 8 coming up.

4:44: A commercial after a kickoff? What is this, the NFL?

4:40: On third down, Mallett throws the ball out of bounds. Lopata is in and kicks a 26-yard field goal. 10-6 Minnesota leads. These drives are looking better and better, but the offense is going to have to finish one of these times. Also, keep going deep. Three times the Wolverines have tried it and all three times good things have happened.

4:39: Minor goes backwards by 2 yards after picking up 8 or so on first down.

4:38: Big time catch by Mario Manningham gives Michigan the ball at the 15-yard line. The pass was almost perfect and Manningham did a great job of getting under it and making the catch. He bobbled the ball when it first got there but still made the catch.

4:37: Short screen to Mathews after a false start creates 3rd and 7.

4:35: Fumble by Weber on a QB draw is recovered by Brandon Graham. That is exactly what this team needed. The turnover forced by Chris Graham stops a promising drive, and now hopefully Michigan can get a touchdown on this next drive.

4:33: Pass interference on Donovan Warren on third down will keep the drive alive for Minnesota.

4:32: Jamar Adams nearly picks off Weber’s pass. The ball was simply thrown too far down the field but Adams couldn’t get there before it hit the ground.

4:31: Big hole on the run by Bennett and Minnesota already is up near the 50. (Kickoff wasn’t very long)

4:27: Pressure again forces Mallett to throw it quickly and again he gets it knocked down at the line. For someone that is 6’7″, he shouldn’t get passes knocked down as often as he does. Lopata now in for a 42 yard field goal and the kick is perfect. K.C. gets us on the board, now 10-3 Gophers.

4:26: Junior Hemingway comes in as the quarterback and obviously just runs straight down the field. Didn’t gain too much, so it’ll be 3rd and 4.

4:25: Adrian Arrington dives for an awesome catch. Mallett pump-faked and then just lofted the ball out there and got it in open space, then Arrington did the rest. First down Michigan down into Minnesota territory.

4:24: Minor gets a first down and takes a hard hit after jumping over the pile.

4:23: Minor finds a hole to get a first for the Wolverines on third and short. Mallett then completes a pass to Arrington for 7. Really shouldn’t have even thrown it there as the coverage was so tight, but hey, it was completed, so I’ll take it.

4:21: Henne isn’t even dressed right now, but if this game continues to play out as it has already, that emergency situation may have to bring him back. The offense just absolutely sucks, and they can’t afford to go another possession without scoring.

4:19: Somebody go get Henne a jersey right now. Mallett fumbles the ball and Minnesota picks it up and runs it back for a touchdown. The Gophers now lead 10-0.

4:18: I gotta say, the coverage really sucks. I guess that should be expected when the game is on ESPN Classic, but there’s no yellow first down line, very few replays are shown, and the announcing also isn’t too great.

4:16: Solid return by Greg Mathews gives Michigan the ball nearly at midfield as the 1st quarter comes to an end. Minnesota 3, Michigan 0.

4:15: Wheelwright steps out of bounds on the WR screen and the Gophers will have to punt. Defense again does a nice job, now the offense just needs to wake up.

4:14: Michigan defends the option perfectly to bring up a 3rd and 10. ESPN Classic flashes back to the Appalachian State game. Thanks for bringing back great memories. Really didn’t need to see that right now.

4:13: Another punt goes into the endzone for a touchback. Really can’t blame Zoltan too much as it could’ve been downed if Charles Stewart was a little taller.

4:12: Blitz forced a quick pass and Mallett had the ball knocked down at the line. 4th down and Michigan will have to punt again. This offense is pathetic right now.

4:11: Minor gets two handoffs for a combined 5 yards. Now 3rd down and 5 for the Wolverines.

4:09: Mallett tries to go deep to Manningham and Minnesota is flagged for pass interference. Looks like a break for Michigan as the penalty really could’ve been on Mario also.

4:06: Gophers play it safe and run for a gain of 2 and now will punt the ball away. Good decision by the coaches to accept that penalty to push Minney back.

4:05: Minnesota throws an incompletion on 3rd down. Two Minnesota offensive linemen for flagged for a chop block and Michigan accepts the penalty, bringing up 3rd and 33.

4:04: A false start and incompletion on an attempted screen play brings up 2nd and 15. Weber tries to run and is tackled for a loss by Brandon Graham, Shawn Crable, and Jamison.

4:02: On 2nd and 8, Minnesota gets another first down as Weber hits Decker, who was wide open. Gophers now across midfield again.

4:01: Damn. Carlos Brown fumbles and Minnesota recovers. Defense has to make some plays for the offense today, otherwise this could get ugly.

4:00: Mallett hits Arrington for 13 and a 1st down. Big play to keep the drive alive.

3:59: After an incompletion on 1st down, Minor ran the ball the outside for 4 yards. 3rd and 6 for Michigan.

3:58: Carlos Brown returns the kick to 33-yard line. Really don’t like him returning kicks as Hart is out. Too big of a risk of injury in my opinion.

3:55: Pressure forced the QB, Weber, outside and he threw it into the ground. Tim Jamison brought the heat to force Minnesota to kick a field goal. The kick is good from 29 yards out, 3-0 Golden Gophers.

3:54: Two running plays combine for 6 yards, bringing up a huge 3rd and 4. Defense needs a stop here.

3:53: Another run by the QB goes for a 1st down and more. The defense has to step up right now.

3:51: 1st down Minnesota on a Duane Bennett run. The defense really is looking bad against the run even though it isn’t anything creative. But that spread type of offense is getting to them. Just as I typed that, Minn. gains 22 on a pass into Michigan territory.

3:50: Gophers get a first down and then the QB keeps it for a 7-yard gain on the next play.

3:49: A lot of room to run on first down for Minnesota as the play goes for 9.

3:48: With 3 true freshmen starting in the secondary for Minnesota, Michigan has to attack that inexperience. Only problem is we have inexperience of our own at the quarterback position. That drive didn’t look too good, but hopefully the offense can get going as the game goes on. (Not hopefully, has to)

3:46: Mallett has nobody open downfield and has to run for a gain of 1. Zoltan Mesko had a high punt on 4th down but the gunners couldn’t keep it out of the endzone. Minnesota ball on the 20.

3:45: Run goes nowhere on 1st down and on 2nd down it was almost disaster for the Wolverines. The throw to Junior Hemingway on a WR screen was low and almost behind the line for a fumble, but it is incomplete. 3rd and 11 coming up.

3:44: Bootleg on 2nd down gets Michigan a first down after a nice pass to Adrian Arrington.

3:43: Run left to Carlos Brown on the first play for U-M goes for a gain of 3.

3:43: Good pressure from the defense and the pass goes incomplete. Michigan returns the punt for only a few yards and will start on the 33.

3:42: Run goes for a loss of 1 on second down. Now 3rd and 11.

3:41: Minnesota run goes for a first down. Screen incomplete on next play. Announcers said that the hope is for Trent to be a first round draft pick someday. Trent? I know he’s played well, but let’s not go too far.

3:40: Hart isn’t even dressed. That’s probably a good move since he would try to play if he was in pads and a uniform.

3:39: Wright kicks it into the endzone and Minnesota takes a knee for a touchback to start the game.

3:35: Michigan State just lost in double overtime to Iowa after blowing a lead in the second half. I know the Iowa fans are happy they won, but is it really necessary to rush the field after beating Michigan State?

3:34: Henne isn’t starting. Only reason for him to play would be if Mallett got hurt or we were in danger of losing. I imagine it’s the same thing with Hart.

3:31: Just a note, the play-by-play announcer for this game is from the state of Minnesota and used to work for FSN North in Minnesota. Think he’ll be favoring the Gophers at all?

3:29: Kickoff is on its way. I’ll be live-blogging the game since the it is on ESPN Classic, meaning many of you can’t watch it. Remember, if you have WXYZ, you can watch the game as they are showing ESPN Classic’s broadcast.

Date & Time: Saturday, October 27, 2007, 3:30 p.m. ET
Teams: Michigan Wolverines (6-2) vs Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-7)
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, Michigan Stadium
Television: ESPN Classic/WXYZ in the Detroit area
Radio: 104.3 WOMC-FM
Weather: 57°F, Showers, 50% Chance of Rain, 16 mph wind from W
Spread: Michigan favored by 23.0; Over/Under 59.0

I’ll Take the "W" at the End of the Day

By · Saturday, October 20, 2007 · 11:32 PM |  Share | 2 Comments 

Hart didn’t play. Henne missed a good portion of this game. And in the end, Michigan walked off the field with a 27-17 victory. All I have to say right now is this:

*Thank you, Chad Henne, for going out there and playing great despite being injured in one form or another
*Thank you, Mike DeBord, for calling that trick play to score the go-ahead touchdown
*Thank you, Adrian Arrington, for being able to receive and throw touchdowns
*Thank you, Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor, for filling in for Mike Hart and doing a solid job
*Thank you, K.C. Lopata, for being able to kick field goals
*Thank you, Illinois punt returner, for muffing that punt to allow Michigan to score the go-ahead touchdown
*And finally, thank you, Ron Zook, for being Ron Zook

More tomorrow. Until then, Go Blue!

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