Great Heisman Campaign Champion

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.

Posted under Blog News, Football

The Great Heisman Campaign: Finals

Minor vs. GrahamGo.

Polls close at 10am EST.

Minor v. Graham

  • 2 Brandon Graham (53%, 339 Votes)
  • 1 Brandon Minor (48%, 307 Votes)

Total Voters: 643

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Posted under Football, Personnel

The Great Heisman Campaign: Semifinal

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’.

West Region Semifinal

  • 1 Brandon Minor (80%, 582 Votes)
  • 2 Donovan Warren (10%, 76 Votes)
  • 1 Greg Mathews (5%, 39 Votes)
  • 2 Carlos Brown (4%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 728

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East Region Semifinal

  • 1 Brandon Graham (54%, 394 Votes)
  • 2 Tate Forcier (30%, 214 Votes)
  • 1 Zoltan Mesko (12%, 85 Votes)
  • 2 Martavious Odoms (4%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 723

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Posted under Football, Personnel

Great Heisman Campaign: Graham v. Robinson

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.

Brandon Graham v. Terrence Robinson

  • 1 Brandon Graham (94%, 513 Votes)
  • 4 Terrence Robinson (6%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 544

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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

Posted under Football, Personnel

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The Great Heisman Campaign: Graham v. Banks

Brandon Graham is widely considered the most physically-talented player on the 2009 Wolverines. He is also probably the best player, and a big season could propel him into the first few rounds of the NFL draft. Graham was 8th on the team in tackles last year, but 1st in both tackles for loss and sacks (in which he also led the Big Ten). Graham has been a thorn in opposing quarterbacks’ collective side since he burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2006.

Greg Banks has bounced around on the defensive line, playing both end and tackle during his time in Ann Arbor. The redshirt junior from Denver will probably play strongside end and some tackle this season. In his playing time last year, Banks tallied a half tackle for loss to go along with his 5 total tackles.

Brandon Graham v. Greg Banks

  • 1 Brandon Graham (98%, 473 Votes)
  • 8 Greg Banks (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 482

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The poll will remain open for 7 days, closing at 5PM next Friday. Have your heart set on a particular candidate? Try to sway others in the comments. The full bracket is visible here.

Other Open Polls:
Warren v. Stokes.
Schilling v. Emilien.
Mesko v. Ortmann.
Cissoko v. Toussaint.
Forcier v. Patterson.
Stonum . Roundtree.

Completed 1st Round Poll:
Minor defeats Sheridan, 952-53.
Van Bergen defeats Gibbons, appx. 503-199 (numbers not final).

Posted under Football, Personnel

Monday Presser Notes

Although I try to avoid simply repackaging notes from the press conferences into a post, as I think regurgitating information is next to useless, when there are Actual Facts instead of just soundbites, it’s worth it:

  • At this point, Brandon Graham is planning to return for his senior year.
  • Corey Zirbel’s injury is career-ending. He will remain with the team as a student assistant (scholarship count updated accordingly).
  • 7-8 players are expected to enroll early from the 2009 recruiting class, and the class should be around 23 guys (for the record, I have thought it would be bigger, but something tells me the head coach knows a little more than I do).
  • Western Michigan and Notre Dame have been known as non-conference opponents for some time now. Eastern will fill one of the other non-conference slots, and there is still an opening in the schedule.

Graham’s return would be huge; Zirbel’s non-return is unfortunate, but the team played without him this year and should continue improving; The recruits I can think of who have mentioned enrolling early so far are: Shav Beaver, Tate Forcier, Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Anthony LaLota, Vlad Emilien, Mike Jones, and (if Michigan lands him) Will Campbell. That’s 8 guys right there.

The 2009 Schedule now looks like this:

Michigan Schedule 2009
Date Loc Opp Notes
September 5 Western Michigan Source.
September 12 Notre Dame Source.
September 19 Eastern Michigan
September 26 Indiana Homecoming
October 3 @ Michigan State
October 10 @ Iowa
October 17
October 24 Penn State
October 31 @ Illinois
November 7 Purdue
November 14 @ Wisconsin
November 21 Ohio State

Western and Notre Dame have set dates from outside sources. Rodriguez said the remaining open date is in October, which means that Eastern must be taking the final September date. The October 17th date will likely be filled with a cupcake.

Posted under Football

Inside the Play: Minnesota Defense

The Situation
Just under 12 minutes remain in the first half. Minnesota has reached Michigan’s territory for the first time on the day, facing a 3rd & 7 from Michigan’s 47. The Wolverine defense has dominated the game thus far, preventing Minnesota from gaining a single first down. Getting another stop here could solidify Michigan’s momentum, and springboard the team to just their third victory of the year.

The Personnel and Formation
Minnesota is in a trips left spread formation. There is one receiver to the right of the line, and one far left with two slot players inside of him. Adam Weber is in the shotgun with DeLeon Eskridge flanking him to the right. Michigan responds with its Okie nickel package. The Wolverines are showing man-free coverage, with Donovan Warren lined up over the solo receiver, Morgan Trent over the trips split end, and Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart (as a linebacker) over the slot receivers.

The Play
Weber drops back to pass. Michigan indeed comes after him, with man-free coverage, blitzing 6 (Eskridge does not go out on a passing route, so Michael Williams, as a linebacker, ignores him and goes after Weber). Weber has about a microsecond to react, and no time to throw. Obi Ezeh finds a big crease in the middle of the line and sacks Weber, along with Williams and Jonas Mouton.

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Why it Worked
Michigan managed to send 6 pass rushers against 6 blockers, but still get to Weber with relative ease. The Gophers’ blocking assignments were confused by the use of the Okie Chaos, in addition to a twist pass-rush move by Brandon Graham. Even if the Maroon Sea had not parted for Ezeh, Williams and Mouton still would have had plenty of opportunity to sack Weber before he could get a pass off. The outside rush by Williams ran into the futile blocking attempt of Eskridge, and Mouton used his speed to get around the left tackle on the other flank. Had Eskridge gone out on a safety valve route, Williams would have had the responsibility of staying with him.

By the way, Michigan has been doing similar things all season – the players just haven’t been executing, particularly in the “tackling” department. Not to harp on one point to much, but Scott Shafer knows what he is doing. If players are in position to make plays (it’s what they do, after all), the blame goes on the kids for not finishing them, rather than on the guy cooking up the schemes.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

Posted under Football