Varsity Blue http://www.umvarsityblue.com Covering Michigan Football and other sports in depth, with a focus on the the year long process of recruiting. Sat, 15 Aug 2009 12:55:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.14 ©Tim Sullivan you@yourdomain.com (Tim Sullivan) you@yourdomain.com(Tim Sullivan) Football 1440 michigan, football, recruiting, wolverines, varsity, blue A usually weekly podcast, sometimes video, dealing with everything Michigan sports. In these podcasts we'll provide supplementary analysis and previews of upcoming opponents. Tim Sullivan Tim Sullivan you@yourdomain.com No no http://www.panel-creations.com/varsity_blue_testground/wp-content/plugins/podpress/images/powered_by_podpress.jpg Varsity Blue http://www.umvarsityblue.com 144 144 End of the Road http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/end-of-the-road/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/end-of-the-road/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2009 16:00:12 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5336 Today is the day: Varsity Blue is coming to an end. Starting Monday, yours truly, along with Paul and Formerly Anonymous, will join the world of MGoBlog.

VB started in the winter of 2005, primarily because I was tired of copy-and-pasting my preview of the Nebraska game onto various Michigan-related message boards. Over time, I eventually got my first link from MGoBlog (as I scouted an IM basketball game featuring various football players – and wrongly predicted Johnny Sears would blow up in 2007), added Paul as a writer/technical guy, moved from Blogspot to a self-hosted domain, spilled my guts about missing the days of 2006, and added Formerly Anonymous to the repertoire to blog about baseball. Along the way, Varsity Blue became the second-most popular Michigan blog out there, and one of the more popular college sports blogs in general. I couldn’t have done any of it without the readers, and I thank all of you for the support you’ve given me over the nearly 4 years of this site’s existence.

Tim & Paul at Penn State

Paul & Tim at Penn State

Like most Michigan bloggers, I was inspired by Brian, and I’m certainly honored to join MGoBlog, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad to leave VB. I hope to see some of this site’s readers follow us over to the mothership, and it’s been a fun, fun ride.

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Great Heisman Campaign Champion http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-champion/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-champion/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2009 14:15:38 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5341 Brandon Graham for Heisman!

The fans have spoken and have selected last year’s team MVP to get a push to become the second defensive player or all time to win the Heisman trophy. Only 31 votes separated the two players. The final was Brandon Graham 337 and Brandon Minor with 306. Congrats to both Brandons for getting to the finals and thanks to the readers who voted and commented.

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The Great Heisman Campaign: Finals http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-finals/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-finals/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2009 20:00:02 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5332 Minor vs. GrahamGo.

Polls close at 10am EST.

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Lacrosse Recruiting http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/lacrosse-recruiting/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/lacrosse-recruiting/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2009 15:10:32 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5077 Not much in the way of football recruiting info today, so I’ll drop some lacrosse knowledge. Yes, I’m doing a recruiting post for a sport that is not only non-revenue, but not even varsity. Partially inspired by commenters who have filled me in on a few guys to look out for (special thanks to Roger and Old Blue). Quick note: since Michigan’s program is club, it’s difficult to tell which players are actually going to be enrolling in Ann Arbor (the last couple years’ commitment lists seem to have a bunch of guys who never ended up on the team), since there are no letters of intent. The full list (from LaxPower):

ID Div Name Hometown State HighSchool HS_St Position Status College
504 U McGee, Conor Baltimore MD Gilman School MD Goalie R Michigan
737 U Abdelnour, Cy Ann Arbor MI Pioneer MI Goalie R Michigan
978 U Johnson, J.D. Malibu CA Loyola-Los Angeles CA Defense R Michigan
993 U Steenland, Willie Minneapolis MN Blake School MN Midfield R Michigan
1593 U Gualtieri, Andrew Amagansett NY East Hampton NY Midfield/FO R Michigan
1594 U Silver, Harrison Cross River NY John Jay-Cross River NY Midfield R Michigan
1595 U Hrusovsky, Joseph Lake Forest IL Lake Forest IL Midfield R Michigan
1596 U Boshes, Lee Deerfield IL Deerfield IL LSM R Michigan
1597 U Gothelf, Ross Owings Mills MD Owings Mills MD Defense/LSM R Michigan
1598 U Paras, Thomas Lakewood OH St. Ignatius OH Attack R Michigan
1599 U Dauch, Zach Bloomfield Hills MI Lahser MI Midfield W Michigan
1600 U Scadron, Travis Bloomfield Hills MI Lahser MI Midfield W Michigan
1620 U Ives, Joey Newton MA Newton South MA Defense R Michigan
1720 U Asher, Nick Portage MI Portage Northern MI Midfield R Michigan
1762 U Cox, Forrest Alexandria VA Phillips Andover MA Defense R Michigan
1953 U Wells, Adam Lake Orion MI Cranbrook Kingswood MI Goalie W Michigan
2143 U Sklarin, Jeff Atherton CA Menlo Atherton CA Midfield/Attack W Michigan

Conor McGee, G, Baltimore MD
1st team all-Baltimore selection by the Baltimore Messenger. McGee is the only player on the list that is not playing varsity in college, except for one player moving along to a boarding school (where he’ll undoubtedly rock some serious pastels) and one junior. Gilman is a serious lacrosse school (unlike those total scrubs from Brother Rice), finishing the year ranked #1 in the country. McGee received interest from smaller D-1 schools, but opted for the big-university experience at Michigan. According to the LaxPower database, he’s the nation’s top goalie that will head to a club program.

There is, oddly enough, a ton of video of McGee available, most likely stemming from the fact that his high school program is teh rulz:

There are also non-embeddable Gilman highlights out there if you’re interested.

Cy Abdelnour, G, Ann Arbor MI
Since Conor McGee was the top goalie in the nation to go club, it may be expected that the Wolverines would let several other goalies slide through their grasp before picking up another in the class. That’s not the case, however, as Pioneer’s Cy Abdelnour is the second-best goalie in the class of 2009 to commit to a club school, and he’s also going to Michigan (the first goalie headed to a non-Michigan club team is the #1156 overall recruit, headed to Florida State). He had also been recruited by D-3 Adrian. Cy is a Peruvian adoptee whose adopted father was a linebacker at Florida, and though he’s a little guy (5-6, 150), he led Pioneer to unprecedented heights in the state tournament. He was named first-team all-state in 2008, alongside Quinnipiac signee TJ Yost..

JD Johnson, D, Malibu CA
JD Johnson hails from Los Angeles, where he played at Loyola Academy. He’s a long-stick midfielder/defenseman who was first-team all-league. In addition to his defensive prowess, he was the faceoff man for the Cubs. I couldn’t find measurements on Johnson, but from the video, it appears that he’s much bigger than most of his opponents.

Willie Steenland, M, Minneapolis MN
Steenland was the leader of his Blake School team in 2009, after the departure of 2008’s star player, Dartmouth’s Kip Dooley (who was the Big Green’s leader among freshmen in all statistical categories – please click that link, if only to see Dooley’s outfit). He led his Blake Bears to a fourth-place finish in the state. Steenland was not a consistent scoring threat for his team, but managed to score more than a goal per game over the season while excelling on defense.

Andrew Gualtieri, M, Amagansett NY
Andrew Gualtieri is a midfielder/faceoff specialist from Long Island. For his East Hampton/Bridgehampton team in 2009, he scored 10 (or 12?) goals on the year, and had 4 (maybe 5?) assists. His lack of scoring output leads me to believe that Michigan is looking at him primarily as a faceoff specialist, though some articles on him implied that he ran the offense for the Bonackers. East Hampton/Bridgehampton also sent two players two varsity programs in the class of 2009, with Jared Bowe heading to Delaware and Mark Simmons on his way to Wesleyan.

Harrison Silver, M, Cross River NY
Harrison Silver is a midfielder/faceoff specialist from John Jay High School in Cross River New York, a traditionally strong lacrosse program (1 D-I and 6 D-II players in the class of ’09, in addition to Silver, and 6 D-I and 6 D-III players in the previous class). He earned playing time as a sophomore and a junior, but as a senior, Silver was named a captain for the Indians. He’s a little guy, at 5-9 and 160 pounds, yet still managed to be named all-section (and was a halfback on the Indians’ football squad).

Michigan Lacrosse Joey HrusovskyJoseph Hrusovsky, M, Lake Forest IL
The last name likely sounds familiar to Michigan lacrosse fans, as Joseph’s older brother, Anthony, will be entering his senior season with the Wolverines in the fall (his 5th academic year). Joseph was all-state his junior season, as well as his senior year. He’s a high-scoring midfielder (not unlike older bro).

Lee Boshes, LSM, Deerfield IL
Lee Boshes is a longtick middie/defenseman who is one of the stronger defensive players in the Michigan class.

Naturally, Boshes is one of the team’s captains this season.

“He plays long stick middle,” said Deerfield coach Derrick Tiveron. “And defense. He has done a fantastic job helping us to build our defensive unit.”

Among Michigan’s top recruits, he and JD Johnson are the only players who appear to be defensive specialists. Since Michigan’s program is built around a strong defense, adding top defensive players is certainly a priority.

…and I guess the top 8 recruits is a good enough place to stop for now. If you’d like to share info on any of the guys mentioned (or any of those that I didn’t cover in further detail), feel free to do so in the comments.

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The Great Heisman Campaign: Semifinal http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-semifinal/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-semifinal/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2009 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5322 The timetable for the Great Heisman Campaign has hit overdrive, and it’s time to get down to a final pairing. Because of this, there will be no quarterfinals, and instead there will be a 4-way competition on each side of the bracket to determine who the finalists will be. Here’s the updated bracket:

Round 3 Results of the Great Heisman Campaign

There are 2 polls in this post, so make sure you vote in both of them. These polls will only be open for 24 hours, so get to votin’.

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Academic Progress http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/academic-progress-2/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/academic-progress-2/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2009 12:32:29 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5316 When Kurt Wermers left town, he tried to take a potshot at the Michigan coaching staff, comparing them unfavorably to Lloyd Carr’s (under whom he never played, for the record). This, of course, has a serious short term effects of making the media insufferable for about a week, and compounding the similar accusations made by Justin Boren on his way out of Ann Arbor. Long term, it may diminish offensive line depth, and even chip away at Michigan’s ability to recruit players (though it flies in the face of, like, everything that anyone else has said about the staff).

Michigan Wolverine Ohio State Buckeye Justin BorenPerhaps the most serious damage Wermers may have inflicted, though, is not in terms of what he did do, but rather what he didn’t: stay eligible. Michigan’s football APR has been declining slightly over the past few years, as the Carr tenure waned and now even more Rich Rodriguez has come into town with his demanding program. Several players – whether they didn’t fit the system, weren’t willing to put in the work, or just wanted to go to Ohio State in the first place but were guilted into Michigan by Bo and used a father’s plow service(!) as an excuse to leave Michigan – have departed since the new sheriff in town took over.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is used by The Toothless Organization to determine which schools aren’t taking care of their student-athletes academically. It is calculated by a 4-year average of scores out of 1000, and if said score dips below 925, tTO will write you a strongly worded letter, then give no actual sanctions (though they’ve gained some teeth, and have punished even a couple BCS conference teams). So how has Michigan done over the past couple years? Take a look:

Michigan APR
Year APR Score
2006 958
2007 951
2008 947
2009 ???

These numbers have, as mentioned above, been on the decline for a couple years, and as higher-APR scores from years past move out of the 4-year average, and the more recent years (with worse APR scores) go into the equation, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for Michigan. Each player leaving the Michigan program costs the team 1 point out of 1000 in the APR calculation for that year. If a player leaves while he is ineligible for NCAA competition, it reduces overall score by 2 points. It’s unclear exactly when players count towards the next score: I believe those who left before the 2008 season have already been counted, and no others have.

Michigan Attrition
Player When Left Notes
Ryan Mallett Winter 2008 Arkansas transfer
Chris McLaurin Winter 2008 Medical reasons, unclear whether he’s still in school or will count against APR
Corey Zirbel Spring 2008 Career-ending injury, still in school and won’t harm APR
Justin Boren Spring 2008 OSU transfer
Marques Slocum Summer 2008 Likely ineligble
Marcus Witherspoon Summer 2008 Left after 2 weeks at school (does he even count against APR?), academically ineligible
Tony Clemons Winter 2009 Colorado transfer
Zion Babb Winter 2009
Artis Chambers Winter 2009
Avery Horn Winter 2009
Sam McGuffie Winter 2009 Rice transfer
Steven Threet Spring 2009 Arizona State transfer
Kurt Wermers Spring 2009 Ball State transfer, academically ineligible
Dann O’Neill Spring 2009 Western Michigan transfer

That means 8 players have already left the team since the end of the 2008 season. According to history, more may be on the way. With Michigan’s APR trending downwards, it appears as though the 2010 score will be more of the same. Will the Wolverines dip into the danger zone – below 925? They haven’t come close yet, though they’re certainly heading in the wrong direction. But hey, there’s always applying for waivers.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Brown v. Robinson http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-brown-v-robinson/ Mon, 20 Jul 2009 21:00:38 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5252 Carlos Brown enters the final year of his injury-plagued Michigan career looking forward to finally being healthy for an entire season. He’s had ankle and wrist problems, but when healthy, he’s shown flashes of brilliance. Last year he ran for 122 yards, almost all of which came in Michigan’s loss to Northwestern.

Denard Robinson is one of the most exciting players in Michigan’s 2009 recruiting class. A high school quarterback, he provides the possibility of an athletic signal-caller, but can still throw the ball down the field. He was a 4-star recruit to the major recruiting services, and is a world-class sprinter. He finished 3rd in the Florida High School 100m dash, and ran as fast as a 10.28-second time this spring. If opposing defenses allow him to get into space, it will probably mean 6 points for the Wolverines.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Open Polls:
Odoms v. Martin.
Mathews v. Ezeh.

Completed 2nd Round Polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Schilling.
Mesko v. Cissoko.
Forcier v. Stonum.
Graham v. Robinson.

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Recruiting Update 7-20-09 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/recruiting-update-7-20-09/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/recruiting-update-7-20-09/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2009 14:43:22 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5308 The Recruiting Board can be found here.

The Wolverines have offered MN OL Seantrel Henderson the chance to play basketball during the offseason, one of several schools offering him the chance to do so in order to lure him to their teams. While we’re discussing Henderson, take a look at this hilariously oblivious article on his recruitment. Money quote: “USC may be the dark horse.”

I won’t add him to the board quite yet, but keep an eye on FL OL Ed Christian. He is a Florida State commit, but of the super-soft variety. He’ll take visits during the season, and likes the South Carolina Schools along with Michigan and Tennessee.

Removed SC OL Eric Mack, who hadn’t seemed interested in Michigan for a while. He’s now committed to South Carolina.

2010 FL OL Chaz GreenRemoved FL OL Chaz Green (seen at left), who has what amounts to a final 4 of Florida, USC, Georgia, and Ohio State. He had planned to make a summer commitment, but wants a chance to visit the Trojans and Buckeyes, which may delay his decision. Doesn’t sound like any other schools have a serious shot to get back into the mix for him.

NC DT/DE Gabe King has narrowed his list to an approximate top group, which does not include Michigan. I’ll leave him on the board a little longer until it’s a firm final list of schools.

Removed NC DE Prince Shembo. He’s down to a top 4 (info in header), and hasn’t been a major prospect of interest with Michigan so far this year. It think it’s fairly obvious that the Wolverines aren’t in that final list.

Removed LA DE Jordan Allen. He committed to LSU.

Removed SC DE Corey Miller, who committed to Florida State.

Removed OH DE Darryl Baldwin, now an Ohio State Buckeye.

Michigan is in the top 6 for CT LB Khairi Fortt. He’s soon to visit Georgia, and if they’re up to snuff, the Bulldogs will make the list. Otherwise, he’ll probably be down to a top 5. That leaves Michigan as one of the few schools he likes that, if I’m remembering correctly, he has not visited. He plans a summer Michigan visit, and only plans to take 3 official visits, likely to schools on his list that he hasn’t yet seen. Fortt plans to enroll early at his school of choice in January.

OH LB Jewone Snow is still waiting on a Michigan offer. Unless Michigan plans to fill out the defensive class with really highly-rated guys, it seems like he should be a shoo-in. He’s a middle linebacker (a major position of need), he’s a Michigan legacy (son of Garland Rivers), and has a younger teammate who may be the top prospect in Ohio (2011 DE Steve Miller). If the Wolverines were to eventually offer, it seems like they’d have a pretty good shot at Snow.

PA S Brandon Ifill is planning to visit Michigan by the end of the month (info in header). Despite not having visited Ann Arbor yet, Ifill lists Michigan in his top two, along with Maryland. Would a very good visit convince him that he’s ready to commit?

Sam Webb Detroit News fluff on FL CB Tony Grimes. An article entitled “Michigan will be ‘tough to beat'” probably bodes lots of good quotes for Wolverine fans:

“For me to already have a good connection with Coach Hopson is a big plus.”

“Man, there ain’t nothing like the Big House — let me say that right now,” Grimes said. “It was even bigger than I thought it would be.”

“Michigan is going to be tough to beat,” he said. “It’s a great program. The networking is on point at Michigan and the alumni system is amazing. The coaching staff is building something great over there.”

To date, Grimes has scheduled only one of his five official visits. He plans to return to Ann Arbor for the Sept. 12 matchup against Notre Dame. The remainder of his itinerary is a work in progress.

From the way he effusively speaks about Michigan, that Notre Dame official visit may be a pretty good time to look for a potential commitment from Grimes. Scouting report:

“He is considered by some to be (Florida’s) most physical corner,” said Scout.com Florida analyst Geoff Vogt. “He will beat receivers up mentally and physically, and he does not get beat one-on-one. He has the ability to mirror receivers all over the field and he will come up in the run game and make his presence felt. He doesn’t have lights-out speed, but he is physical, and his competitiveness just can’t be taught.”

He also has decent height for a corner (which I guess is predictable for a guy whose physicality is his most praised attribute). The lack of elite speed may be a question mark, but Michigan already has super-speedy guys like Boubacar Cissoko and Courtney Avery, so a couple taller corners might be in order anyway. lance at UMGoBlog also rounds up a bunch of the available information on Grimes, including video:

Added FL CB Eric Mitchell. This Scout header is particularly revealing: he visited Michigan over the summer, and the Wolverines stand in his top 5 along with Ole Miss, South Florida, Vandy, and Louisville. To the best of my knowledge, he does not yet hold a Michigan offer.

Removed FL CB Travis Bell, who has committed to West Virginia.

Removed FL CB Spencer Boyd, who (as predicted) committed to Notre Dame over the weekend.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Mathews v. Ezeh http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-mathews-v-ezeh/ Sun, 19 Jul 2009 21:00:02 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5250 Greg Mathews is the lone holdover at wide receiver from Michigan’s glory days on offense in 2006. He was one of Michigan’s top receivers last year, and the only wideout with more than one touchdown grab (a far cry from the days of 15 for Edwards or 12 for Manningham). He looks to continue making the tough catches with his spectacular hands, though he’s unlikely to beat many players deep.

Obi Ezeh will be a third-year starter at middle linebacker, and he’s had an up-and-down career thus far, including a one-handed interception against Northwestern in 2007:

If the Michigan defense is to be successful, Ezeh will have to be on his game the whole year.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Open Polls:
Graham v. Robinson.
Odoms v. Martin.

Completed 2nd Round Polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Schilling.
Mesko v. Cissoko.
Forcier v. Stonum.

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Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings 7-19-09 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/big-ten-recruiting-class-rankings-7-19-09/ Sun, 19 Jul 2009 14:30:46 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5262 Compare to the previous edition of the recruiting class rankings. Action since last rankings:

7-13-09 Iowa gains commitment from Andrew Donnal. Wisconsin gains commitment from Joseph Brennan. Purdue gains commitment from Josh Davis.
7-14-09 Penn State gains commitment from Alex Kenney. Indiana gains commitment from Harrison Scott.
7-15-09 Michigan gains commitment from Austin White.
7-17-09 Notre Dame gains commitment from Spencer Boyd.
7-18-09 Indiana gains commitment from Cody Evers.

Penn State passes Michigan on the basis of a much better ranking per commit, and not that many fewer commits overall. In addition, Scout released their 2-stars, so nearly every Big Ten commit now has a ranking of some sort on that service.

#1 Penn State – 13 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Paul Jones QB **** ***** 150*
Adrian Coxson WR **** ***** 150*
Evan Hailes DT **** **** 150*
Robert Bolden QB **** **** 150*
Silas Redd RB **** **** 79
Mike Hull LB **** **** 77
Kyle Baublitz DE **** *** 150*
Alex Kenney WR **** *** 150*
Miles Dieffenbach OL *** **** 150*
DaQuan Jones DT *** **** 77
Tom Ricketts OL NR **** 77
Luke Graham OL NR *** NR
Levi Norwood WR NR NR NR

The inevitable Kenney commitment has finally come to fruition.

#2 Michigan – 16 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Ricardo Miller WR **** **** 150*
Devin Gardner QB **** **** 150*
Marvin Robinson S **** **** 150*
Jerald Robinson WR **** *** 77
Ken Wilkins LB *** **** 77
Austin White RB *** **** 77
Jeremy Jackson WR *** *** 150*
Christian Pace OL *** *** 150*
Jordan Paskorz DE *** *** 78
Stephen Hopkins RB *** *** 77
Antonio Kinard LB *** *** 77
Drew Dileo WR *** *** 75
Tony Drake RB *** ** 77
Courtney Avery CB NR *** 73
DJ Williamson WR NR *** NR
Cornelius Jones QB NR ** 77

Austin White continues Michigan’s in-state dominance.

#3 Notre Dame – 13 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Chris Martin DE ***** ***** 150*
Blake Leuders DE **** **** 150*
Alex Welch TE **** **** 79
Andrew Hendrix QB **** *** 150*
Kendall Moore LB **** *** 77
Christian Lombard OL *** **** 150*
Daniel Smith WR *** **** 78
Bennett Jackson WR *** **** 77
Chris Badger S *** *** 150*
Spencer Boyd CB *** *** 79
Lo Wood CB *** *** 78
Justin Utupo DE *** *** 77
Tommy Rees QB *** *** NR

Spencer Boyd commits to Notre Dame.

#4 Ohio State – 8 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Andrew Norwell OL **** ***** 150*
Jamel Turner DE **** ***** 150*
Roderick Smith RB **** **** 150*
JT Moore DE **** *** 78
Scott McVey LB *** **** 77
David Durham LB *** *** 150*
Taylor Graham QB NR *** 78
Drew Basil K NR *** NR

No change for the Buckeyes.

#5 Michigan State – 9 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
William Gholston DE **** **** 150*
Joe Boisture QB **** **** 150*
Max Bullough LB **** *** 150*
Mylan Hicks CB *** *** 78
Nick Hill RB *** *** 75
Tony Lippett WR NR *** 78
Travis Jackson OL NR *** 77
Taylor Calero DE NR ** 76
Michael Dennis OL NR NR 76

Nothing new for MSU.

#6 Minnesota – 10 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Jimmy Gjere OL **** **** 79
Lamonte Edwards Ath **** *** 76
Antoine Lewis WR *** *** 76
Matt Eggen OL *** *** 76
Tom Parish QB *** *** 73
Zac Epping OL *** *** 73
Donnell Kirkwood RB *** ** NR
Mark Lenkiewicz OL NR ** 75
Kip Smith K NR *** NR
Allen Veazie CB NR ** 75

Nothing new for Minnesota.

#7 Illinois – 8 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Corey Cooper CB **** **** 150*
CJ Fiedorowicz TE **** **** 150*
Chandler Whitmer QB *** *** 150*
Daniel Easterly Ath *** *** 78
Shawn Afryl OL *** *** 69
Andy Gallik OL *** ** 74
Dexter McDonald S NR *** 79
Mark Wilson LB NR *** 76

Illinois has nothing new.

#8 Iowa – 10 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Andrew Donnal OL **** *** 150*
Matt Hoch DE *** *** 150*
Austin Gray LB *** *** 77
Louis Trinca-Pasat DE *** *** 76
Mike Hardy DE *** *** 76
James Morris LB *** *** 74
Brandon Scherff OL *** *** NR
Jim Poggi LB NR *** NR
Anthony Ferguson DT NR *** NR
Austin Vier QB NR ** NR

Iowa gets an important lineman in Andrew Donnal.

#9 Wisconsin – 8 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Konrad Zagzebski LB *** **** 76
Joseph Brennan QB *** *** 78
Marquis Mason WR *** ** NR
Frank Tamakloe S NR *** 150*
Bryce Gilbert DT NR *** 74
Cameron Ontko LB NR ** 66
Jake Irwin DE NR ** NR
Dallas Lewallen OL NR ** NR

Joseph Brennan commits to the Badgers.

#10 Indiana – 11 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Jibreel Black DT *** **** 78
Xavier Whitaker RB NR *** NR
Logan Young WR NR ** 76
Leneil Himes TE NR ** 74
Antonio Banks RB NR ** 73
Marlandez Harris OL NR ** 72
Andre Kates CB NR ** NR
Ryan Phillis LB NR ** NR
Matt Perez RB NR NR 74
Harrison Scott DE NR NR 69
Cody Evers OL NR NR NR

Indiana picks up a couple new commits.

#11 Northwestern – 6 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Shontrelle Johnson RB *** *** 77
Rashad Lawrence WR *** *** 73
Trevor Siemian QB *** ** 79
Paul Jorgenson OL NR ** 79
Collin Ellis LB NR ** 77
Chi Chi Ariguzo LB NR ** 74

Nothing changes for the Wildcats.

#12 Purdue – 6 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Sean Robinson QB *** *** 78
De’Ron Flood TE NR *** 74
Charles Torwudzo WR NR *** NR
Ryan Isaacs DE NR ** NR
Jeremy Cornelius WR NR ** NR
Josh Davis DT NR NR 75

Sean Robinson picks Purdue.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Odoms v. Martin http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-odoms-v-martin/ Sat, 18 Jul 2009 21:00:34 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5248 Martavious Odoms was Michigan’s most used receiver last year, grabbing 49 passes for 443 yards. Since he performed so well as a freshman, there’s good reason to hope he does the same as a sophomore – if not better. Competent quarterbacking and a more effective overall offense should give Odoms the chance to make a lot of plays. He’ll also be used in the kicking game, and he returned one punt for touchdown last year.

Mike Martin was inserted into heavy rotation at defensive line, which is rare for a true freshman. He performed well, including a crushing of Allan Evridge that helped seal the victory over Wisconsin.

Martin finished the year with 20 tackle (4.5 for loss and 2 sacks).

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Open Polls:
Forcier v. Stonum.
Graham v. Robinson.

Completed 2nd Round Polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Schilling.
Mesko v. Cissoko.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Graham v. Robinson http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-graham-v-robinson/ Fri, 17 Jul 2009 21:00:12 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5246 Brandon Graham is likely Michigan’s best shot (outside of the venerable Professor Mesko) to land a player on a first-team All-American squad as a defensive end. He finished last year with 46 tackles, including 20 for loss (2nd in the nation) and 10 sacks (2nd in the conference), all despite missing one entire game and parts of others with injury. The Detroit Crockett star looks for another big year before he moves along to the NFL.

Terrence Robinson was expected to compete alongside Martavious Odoms last year at the slot position, but ended up missing the entire year with injury. He should be fully healthy this year, and will give Michigan another option with a little shake to him:

If Robinson can contribute in 2009, it will go a long way towards helping cure the offensive woes of 2008.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Other Open Polls:
Forcier v. Stonum.
Mesko v. Cissoko.

Completed 2nd Round Polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen
.
Warren v. Schilling
.

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NCAA Football 2010 Review http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/ncaa-football-2010-review/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/ncaa-football-2010-review/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2009 18:05:52 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5302 I picked this up the afternoon it came out (this past Tuesday for the non obsessed).  I have to admit that I wasn’t as excited for this year’s version as I had been in the past.  I wasn’t even planning on buying it Monday afternoon, but then I hopped online to see what people’s impressions were.

To my surprise, a lot of people seemed to really like the changes. No one even had posted their extended descent into madness and meditated as to why they always drop $60 when nothing ever changes and everything is wrong in the world and what is the point of it all anyway?  Well, considering I’ve been buying this game since 2002 came, it didn’t take too much to convince me to get it.

So I ran out, picked up and threw it in the XBox360 (Paul VBlue is my gamertag in case anyone cares). My friend came over and we did an exhibition on Heisman difficulty between a couple ACC teams (I can’t quite remember at this point).

I could have really done without the marching bands at the beginning of the game. I doubt any band is actually going to form the EA Sports logo. Once we got into the game play I started to notice the differences right away.  The movements are all much smoother and more realistic feeling. While there are some animations that don’t always quite work, most of the gameplay looks and feels very good.  A big change is your QB’s throws as he’s being hit. My offense in 2009 involved sitting in the pocket, stepping up and launching a perfect pass 40 yards downfield just before getting leveled. Try to do that in 2010 and it barely gets to the offensive line. More realistic, sure, but a little tough for me to get used to. Another thing is that the CPU defense actually takes rational pursuit angles that you can’t throw off with a wiggle of the control stick. I could shake almost any defender just by running slightly towards the post and then cutting hard to the sideline.

The defenses are pretty similar, but your defensive AI doesn’t seem quite as incompetent as last year and you can even get a bit of a pass rush at times (!). I freely admit that I generally SuperSim (best feature ever) the defense, so I may not be the best judge.

The game was going fairly well until midway through the third quarter. The game just up and froze. Alright, maybe this is a bad sign, but it happens right? It could just be a freak chance.

We restart the XBox and start the Michigan dynasty. I try to download rosters, but unfortunately, EA shipped beta rosters with the retail version of the game, so the standard people who get the game 2 weeks early weren’t able to put together rosters by the release day, and there likely won’t be a complete one for another few weeks or so.  We decided to just with number, since HB #4 seems more like Minor than have him be called Darius Simmons or something.

First thing I saw when we got started was “Add a new pipeline state.” This is new so I click it, and apparently you can now buy “Dynasty Accelerators” which give you benefits in recruiting and whatnot. These cost points/money. Will people actually buy these? I hope none of you do. I mean, really. Just don’t do it.

Anyway, I like the new recruiting lay out (grid vs. list is generally a good UI choice if you have quite a few options). You can also numerically and graphically see how much your pitch is affecting a recruit which is nice. I always got frustrated when it would take 90 minutes to pitch a guy and you really don’t know if it’s doing anything.  Besides that and the new lay out, recruiting seems fairly similar to last year.

The last big, new thing is the inclusion of Erin Andrews.  I started a Road to Glory, but got bored pretty quickly, since it’s just a repackaged Campus Legend mode (which I knew, but was hopeful for something more). The injury reports, which happen with much more frequently*, are a nice break to the standard Nessler, Corso, Herbstreet booth, and aren’t even quite as generic as I would have thought.

Overall, I really enjoy most of the changes made to the game. The more aesthetic things (marching band, 3d “dorm room” in RtG, etc.) I could have lived without, but overall, they fixed a lot of things that were really annoying, and the game play is much, much better.

The bad parts:

  • The menus are slow – I move really quickly in the play selection menu, but  sometimes it doesn’t load a submenu by the time I try to select something.
  • No full rosters – It seems really weird to me that a mistake that huge could make it through, but it is EA. You can get the updated rosters here.
  • The game crashes all the damn time – This is the big one. I tried loading it to my HDD, I’ve wiped the disc, but no matter what I do, it will usually end up freezing before I decide I want to turn it off. This has caused some annoyances and lost data, and I have to assume there’ll be a patch for it, but for right now it just really makes me want to write EA strongly worded letter. They get so much right in the gameplay, but a lot of the time I can’t even get to it.

I’m sure the more I play, I’ll find things that are annoying, but it’s definitely one of the best versions I’ve played in a while. Hopefully, EA will add some patches to make this game as good as it can be. What do you guys think?

*4 games into the 2009 and my QB #5 has been knocked out of the game on 3 separate occasions.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Forcier v. Stonum http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-forcier-v-stonum/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-forcier-v-stonum/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2009 21:00:37 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5244 You may have heard of this Tate Forcier fellow. He’s been heralded as a savior of Michigan football, and his performance in the Michigan spring game was indeed something to get excited over:

Tate will likely be Michigan’s starter from day 1, and Wolverine fans are hoping he’s able to repeat that performance against starting defenses across the country.

Darryl Stonum is one of three Wolverines from Fort Bend Dulles High School in Texas, and perhaps the most physically talented of the three. The deep-threat wideout, however, struggled last season, partially because there was nobody who could get him the ball. Despite that, he was Michigan’s 3rd-leading receiver(!!!) with 176 yards, including a 51-yarder against Purdue for his only touchdown of the year.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Other open polls:
Warren v. Schilling.
Mesko v. Cissoko.

Completed poll:
Minor def. Van Bergen.

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Recruiting Update 7-16-09 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/recruiting-update-7-16-09/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/recruiting-update-7-16-09/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2009 13:22:38 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5259 2010 Michigan Wolverine Austin White

Moved to committed: MI RB Austin White, who announced for the Wolverines yesterday. Commitment post. Sam Webb had an interview with Austin on WTKA.

SC QB Commit Cornelius Jones has been shining on the 7-on-7 circuit:

“Conelius [sic] made some phenomenal throws,” Brown said. “Defensively, Coach (Mark) Razzano made some good calls in tight situations, and the kids made some big plays with games on the line.”

The Spartanburg team finished second to Byrnes, the powerhouse school with such Division-1 prospects as Marcus Lattimore, Nick Jones, Brandon Willis, and others. Local news provided a bit of video:

Hopefully, the success for the 7-on-7 team bodes well for Spartanburg’s season (though the vikings finished second to Byrnes last summer as well, and still only managed 5 victories in the fall), and eventually Jones’s ability to move up in the rankings. By the way – there seems to be mounting evidence that there’s no “r” in Jones’s first name.

Speaking of studly QB commits, MI QB Devin Gardner has been named to the Elite 11 camp. Gardner headlines the list of 3(!) players from the Great Lakes State participating, joining MSU’s Joe Boisture and PSU’s Robert Bolden.

Removed TX QB Aaron Johnson, as his favorites are OU, TCU, and Houston. It doesn’t appear Michigan is interested, and he clearly wants to stay closer to home.

Removed AL QB Trett Hardman. He’s listed as a pro-style QB by the recruiting services, and I’m really stretching for reasons to get some of these guys off the board who quite obviously aren’t going to end up in Blue.

Super fluff on LA Slot Commit Drew Dileo. Highlights:

“Of all the coaches that came through,” Parkview assistant David Simoneaux said, “Michigan was the most aggressive. They said they just had to have him.”

This likely means that Michigan’s coaches see something in Dileo that the recruiting sites may not. That would continue a trend of the Wolverines’2010 Michigan Wolverine Drew Dileocoaching staff valuing different things than Rivals and Scout, leading to possibly underrated class rankings.

Slot receivers in a spread offense are usually matched against linebackers or safeties. They receive the ball in a variety of ways, including handoffs and lateral passes.

In their evaluation of Dileo, Michigan’s coaches saw the perfect fit.

They saw a tough player with sure hands who could make catches over the middle. They saw a versatile, explosive player who could make defenders miss, as a runner or receiver.

“He ([RB coach Fred] Jackson) told us Drew reminds them of Wes Welker,” Simoneaux said.

Brief scouting reort that is basically what we’ve come to expect from these guys. For added fun, insert “white” prior to every use of the word “player!” Also, obligatory white-slot-to-Wes-Welker comparison.

“I know my profile isn’t as great as a lot of other kids’ around the country,” he said. “I know (Michigan) reached out there a little bit to get me. It’s not about proving anybody wrong. I just don’t want people up there to feel like I wasted a scholarship.”

That’s a pretty tame quote, considering the context. I’d much rather have him say something along the lines of “It’s not about proving anybody wrong, it’s about kicking ass and taking names.” There’s also mention that Dileo has always worn #3, which Justin Feagin currently rocks for Michigan.

Removed PA WR Alex Kenney, who committed to Penn State.

MN OL Seantrel Henderson doesn’t have a visit to Michigan in his plans. The recruitment of Henderson is starting to get weird, as there is alternating “Michigan and USC lead” talk interspersed with “Michigan is in his top 10, but not any higher than that”-type speak. Henderson has already visited Ann Arbor once, so perhaps he’s using the officials as a way to see places he’s never been? As a side note, Seantrel himself has said he’s no longer interested in Notre Dame, but his father says they’re right near the top. Maybe his dad just isn’t attuned to the evolving list of favorites.

Removed OH OL Andrew Donnal, who will become a Hawkeye.

In the ongoing search for at least one defensive tackle in this class, GA DT Michael Thornton will give the Michigan coaches a chance to woo him. Thornton plans to officially visit Michigan sometime this fall (info in header).

Removed OH DT Josh Davis, who committed to Purdue.

Removed CA DE Ronald Powell, who will pick between USC and Florida sometime in January.

Removed SC DE Dexter Morant, who committed to Georgia.

Fluff on FL LB Jeff Luc, who has only recently started lifting weights. Stats:

Luc registered 119 tackles, nine sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles and had four pass break-ups in 2008.

He says location does not matter in his college choice, and is in no hurry to make a decision – though he does plan to enroll in January.

Removed TX LB Corey Nelson. He briefly had Michigan as a leader, then said he would visit Ann Arbor despite not having the Wolverines in his top 5, but now the teammate of RB Commit Tony Drake has committed to Texas A&M. If he continues talking about taking visits to school’s he’s not interested in, Nelson may be able to find his way back onto the list.

OH S Latwan Anderson has Michigan State and West Virginia in his top 2. Michigan is not far behind, but it seems as though the Mountaineers are a pretty heavy favorite. Might a year of PAIN under inept headman Bill Stewart sour him on Morgantown?

ESPN’s Bill Kurelic predicts that Michigan will land both PA S Brandon Ifill and PA CB/S Cullen Christian, teammates at Penn Hills High. Christian has been an assumed Michigan lock for quite some time, and Ifill has had Michigan near the top of his list, though perhaps not in the leader’s position. Ifill will visit Ann Arbor at the end of this month, and if he enjoys himself, it’s conceivable that he could verbal to Michigan.

FL CB Spencer Boyd is deciding Friday between Notre Dame, Michigan, and Georgia. He hasn’t been at the forefront of Michigan’s recruiting effort lately, so expect him to pick one of the other options (I believe Notre Dame is the leader). Looks like things are heading towards a removal from the board in the next update.

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Great Heisman Campaign: Mesko v. Cissoko http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-mesko-v-cissoko/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-mesko-v-cissoko/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 21:00:42 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5242 Zoltan Mesko is a space emperor, a punter, and a scholar. Last year, he averaged over 42 yards per punt, with plenty of hangtime, as Michigan finished 5th in the nation in net punting yardage. Zoltan enters his 5th year in the Michigan program as a Playboy All-American and a serious contender for the Ray Guy Award. In 2008, he also ran twice on fake punts, earning a first down each time. Thrilling punt workout video goes here:

Boubacar Cissoko is a sophomore corner that the Michigan coaching staff will rely on to start in the defensive backfield this year. He got some playing time in 2008, but the graduation of Morgan Trent will force him the take a role in the spotlight. In limited playing time last year, he made 15 tackles (1 for loss) and broke up 3 passes. Ha also played a role in the kick return game, where he figures to make a repeat performance.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Other open polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Schilling.

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Austin White Goes Blue http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/austin-white-goes-blue/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/austin-white-goes-blue/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:40:02 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5224 2010 Michigan Football Recruit Austin WhiteMI RB Austin White has committed to the Michigan Wolverines, according to the premium recruiting sites. White, who hails from Livonia Stevenson, is one of the top prospects from the Great Lakes State. White weighs in at 6-0, 186lbs, and has been timed at 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.

Recruiting Notes
The commitment of White completes the in-state switcheroo between Michigan State and the Wolverines, which saw Nick Hill commit to the Spartans. Coming into the recruiting season, Hill had been considered a strong Michigan lean, while White has serious family ties in East Lansing and was expected to end up there. However, as the recruitments got underway, White became more and more interested in the Wolverines. Throughout the spring, he started leaning towards Michigan, and enjoyed his visit for Michigan’s summer camp. Last week, he announced a press conference for today, at which he made his college choice. He selected Michigan, and becomes the Wolverines’ 16th commit in the class.

Player Notes
Scout is a bit higher on Austin than Rivals, ranking him as a 4-star prospect and the #17 RB in the class (Rivals has him at 3 stars and #32). He has good vision, quick feet, and surprising abilty to catch the ball out of the backfield for a high school prospect. He’s an upright runner who needs to get lower to avoid injury, though adding bulk in the weight room will help in that regard as well. White may not be coming in strictly as a running back, however. This summer, he played in the defensive backfield in 7-on-7 competitions, where he reportedly impressed. If he doesn’t foresee immediate playing time on offense, he may opt to try his hand on the other side of the ball.

Video

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Great Heisman Campaign: Warren v. Schilling http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/great-heisman-campaign-warren-v-schilling/ Tue, 14 Jul 2009 21:00:33 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5237 Donovan Warren was a 4/5-star cornerback out of high school, and it’s apparent why from his highlight video:

Warren had an exception freshman season, but a number of minor injuries teamed up with some philosophical disagreements with defensive coordinator Scott Shafer teamed up to undermine his sophomore campaign. Still, he is expected to be healthy and happy once more in Ann Arbor, and should have a successful junior year.

Stephen Schilling was a highly-regarded offensive lineman coming of of Bellevue, Washington, but needed a year to redshirt before he was able to contribute. As a redshirt freshman, he started every game, mostly at right tackle. He also played right tackle on last year’s line, but improved depth at the position has allowed him to move to guard, his more natural position. Schilling is expected one of the most important pieces on what looks to be a strong Michigan o-line in 2009.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Other open poll:
Minor v. Van Bergen.

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2009 Big Ten Preview: Northwestern http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/2009-big-ten-preview-northwestern/ Tue, 14 Jul 2009 14:01:32 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5140 Northwestern Offense

QBs

CJ Bacher exits, opening the door for 5th-year senior Mike Kafka. Backing up Kafka will likely be redshirt sophomore Dan Persa, who played on special teams in 2008.

Northwestern QBs Passing 2008
Name Comp Att % Yds TD Int Yds/Att
CJ Bacher 245 408 60.05 2432 17 15 5.96
Mike Kafka 32 46 69.57 330 2 3 7.17
Northwestern QBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Mike Kafka 68 321 1 4.72
CJ Bacher 84 230 3 2.74
Dan Persa 2 -2 0 -1.00

Analysis

Kafka got penty of playing time last year when Bacher missed time, and has plenty of practice experience in the system. He’s more of a running threat than Bacher was, though perhaps not quite the passer. The backups are all inexperienced in game situations.

RBs

Redshirt junior Stephen Simmons, who has played plenty over the past couple years when the starters were injured, will be the starter. Behind him, walkon Jacob Schmidt is the only player with a carry to his name. Jeravin Matthews, one of two true freshmen to play last year, is a likely candidate to be the primary backup.

Northwestern RBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Tyrell Sutton 184 890 6 4.84
Omar Conteh 73 235 3 3.22
Stephen Simmons 62 178 2 2.87
Jacob Schmidt 2 4 0 2.00
Northwestern RBs Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Tyrell Sutton 35 305 2 8.71
Omar Conteh 10 61 0 6.10
Stephen Simmons 1 11 0 11.00

Analysis

Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh have been carrying this team over the past couple years, so losing them will be a big hit. Even worse is the fact that Simmons had a horrific (sub 3 YPC) average last year. Still, he’s a fast guy, and if Northwestern can get him into open space, there is big-pplay potential.

Receivers

Northwestern’s top 3 receivers from last year depart, taking with them 73% of the position group’s receptions from last year. Stepping up are two notably white (not unlike Peterman and Lane) players in true sophomore Jeremy Ebert and former quarterback 5th-year Andrew Brewer (who may be back for a 6th year if he desires to seek a medical redshirt for his sophomore season). Junior Sidney Stewart, former Michigan safety Charles’s little brother, will probably be third wideout. Tight ends Josh Rooks and Brendan Mitchell both return.

Northwestern Receivers Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Eric Peterman 59 737 6 12.49
Ross Lane 60 640 3 10.67
Rasheed Ward 51 526 3 10.31
Jeremy Ebert 15 161 2 10.73
Andrew Brewer 18 145 0 8.06
Sidney Stewart 17 134 1 7.88
Josh Rooks (TE) 7 46 2 6.57
Charles Brown 2 14 0 7.00
Brendan Mitchell (TE) 2 6 1 3.00
Zeke Markshausen 1 6 0 6.00
Northwestern Receivers Rushing 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rush
Eric Peterman 5 4 0 0.80
Andrew Brewer 1 0 0 0.00

Analysis

The Wildcats will have to basically start over in the receiving corps, as the returning players accounted for very little production last year (od for a team running a spread set). The lost players were also the best in terms of average per reception, so with a new quarterback and seemingly no deep threat, there could be trouble for the Northwestern passing game.

Offensive Line

Left guard Keegan Kennedy is gone after starting all of last year, but the rest of the Wildcat OL should still be around. Redshirt sophomore (and former walkon) Doug Bartels should start at one of the guard spots, redshirt sophomore Ben Burkett will return after starting all of last year at center, redshirt sophomore Al Netter will return after playing left tackle all of last year, and 5th-year Desmond Taylor will return at right tackle. That leaves just one guard position open, and primary backup Joel Belding is no longer around to fill in. 5th-year Kurt Mattes, who is a tackle by trade, may be called upon to fill in. Mike Boyle will be the key backup at tackle, and Keegan Grant, who was hampered by an ankle injury last year, is the main backup on the interior.

Analysis

The offensive line returns almost entirely intact, and perhaps more impressively, the Wildcats started 3 redshirt freshmen last year, giving them a young but experienced group. They’ll need it, with a ton of uncertainty at the skill positions. The group allowed very few sacks last year, but were below-average in paving the way for the run. With a more mobile quarterback this year, they could be doing a lot more run blocking.

Offensive Analysis

Northwestern has a pretty experienced offensive line, but the lack of talent and depth at the skill positions is rather frightening. Unless Simmons can improve by leaps and bounds from his performance last year, and Kafka can become a more well-rounded player, the Wildcats should have a pretty anemic offense. Look for some serious steps back from this group unless the offensive line just blows teams away.

Northwestern Defense

Defensive Line

5th-year Corey Wootton is a legitimate All-American candidate at one of the defensive end positions, and redshirt sophomore Vince Browne will probably man the other spot. At defensive tackle, Corbin Bryant is expected to slide inside from defensive end and fill a starting role. Seniors Marshall Thomas and Adam Hahn will rotate at the other spot. Sophomores Jack DiNardo and Kevin Watt are reserve defensive ends.

Northwestern Defensive Line 2008
Name Tack TFL Sack Int
Kevin Mims 46 7 3.5 0
Jon Gill 44 9.5 4 0
Corey Wootton 42 16 10 1
Corbin Bryant 28 5.5 1 0
Vince Browne 26 7.5 4 1
Marshall Thomas 12 1 0 0
Adam Hahn 11 1 1 0
Jack DiNardo 3 0 0 0
Rejale Johnson 2 1 1 0
Kevin Watt 1 0 0 0

Analysis

Outside of Wootton, this defensive line is nothing to really fear. Starting a 280-lb former DE at tackle might be a problem in terms of run defense, as Corbin Bryant may not have the strength and size required to hold the point of attack. Losing the top two performers on the defensive line (Wootton was hurt for a portion of the year) invariably is a bad thing, and I expect a step back from the Wildcats’ defense.

Linebackers

Prince Kwateng is gone, and Nate Williams and Quentin Davie are the only known commodities in the linebacking corps. An otherwise inexperienced and unheralded player will have to step up in the third spot, perhaps Ben Johnson or Bryce McNaul.

Northwestern Linebackers 2008
Name Tack TFL Sack
Prince Kwateng 106 5 2.5
Nate Williams 66 3.5 1
Quentin Davie 57 9.5 3.5
Malcolm Arrington 52 6.5 1.5
Mike Dinard 23 0 0
Ben Johnson 6 0 0
Bryce McNaul 2 0 0

Analysis

Kwateng left with the most tackles on the team, and without him (and with NO experienced players to step in), the linebacker group will take a serious step back. An unproven player will ave to either be a pleasant surprise or a liability at the second level for Northwestern.

Defensive Backs

The entire starting secondary from last year’s team returns, with seniors Brad Phillips and Brendan Smith at the safety positions, senior Sherrick McManis at one corner position, and redshirt sophomore Jordan Mabin (a freshman All-American last year) at the other. Plenty of depth also returns, with Brian Peters, Mike Bolden, and Justan Vaughn ready to fill in if needed.

Northwestern Defensive Backs 2008
Name Tack TFL Sack Int Fum
Brad Phillips 109 6 1.5 3 0
Brendan Smith 82 3 0 2 0
Sherrick McManis 67 0 0 2 0
Jordan Mabin 51 2 0 3 0
Brian Peters 35 2 0 1 1
Mike Bolden 10 0 0 0 0
Justan Vaughn 9 0 0 0 0
David Arnold 9 0 0 0 0
David Oredugba 5 0 0 0 0
Todd Dockery 2 0 0 0 0
James Nussbaum 1 0 0 0 0

Analysis

The secondary should be a serious strength for Northwestern. Last year’s top-25 pass efficiency defense returns every starter and all the key backups. The DBs were pretty good playmakers last year, recording 10 interceptions among the starters. If they can build on that season, they may be able to be the strength of the NU defense.

Defensive Analysis

The first two levels are a little weak (primarily linebackers), but the secondary should be pretty rockin’. With good pressure on the opposing QBs from the likes of Wootton, the playmaking secondary, with all its experience, should be able to get their fair share of turnovers in 2009. The main problems with the defense look to be the rush D, with the undersized d-line, and the offense’s potential inability to stay on the field.

Special Teams

Amado Villareal and Kyle Daley both depart. Stefan Demos, a junior, will continue punting duties, and may take over placekicking resposbility as well.

Northwestern Kicking 2008
Name XPM XPA % FGM FGA % Long
Amado Villareal 30 34 88.24 20 25 80.00 46
Kyle Daley 1 1 100.00 0 0
Northwesten Punting 2008
Name Rush Yds Avg
Stefan Demos 64 2499 39.05
Kyle Daley 1 33 33.00

Analysis

Demos was a subpar punter last year, and likely doesn’t have the strongest leg in the world. Even if an unknown player can step in and take care of field goals, this unit will probably be a weakness in 2009.

Overall Analysis

Offense: bad, defense: mediocre to good. Northwestern probably won’t be as good a team as they were last year, and they likely won’t face as easy a schedule (top 20 easiest in the nation) as they did last year. Taking that all into account, it looks like there’s probably a precipitous slide down the Big Ten standings in order for the Wildcats. Pat Fitzgerald is a pretty good coach, so hopefully for Northwestern, it will be a rebuilding year for a strong 2010.

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The Great Heisman Campaign: Minor v. Van Bergen http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-minor-v-van-bergen/ http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2009/07/the-great-heisman-campaign-minor-v-van-bergen/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2009 21:00:54 +0000 http://www.umvarsityblue.com/?p=5234 Brandon Minor looks to be Michigan’s top running back in 2009. Though he’s had a number of injuries in his career, Brandon hopes to be fully healthy for his senior year, and lead Michigan to a big turnaround. Hopefully, Brandon will be doing a lot of this:

Ryan Van Bergen was the winner of the only upset in the first round of the competition, defeating 4-seed Brendan Gibbons. He’ll start on the defensive line, and looks to anchor the run defense as a strongside defensive end. Last year, backing up Tim Jamison, Van Bergen collected 13 total tackles and 1 pass breakup.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

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