Friday, October 31, 2008

BTN: Volleyball Highlights

Mailbag Question:

Considering how difficult it was for Threet and Sheridan to learn the quarterback position in this offense what are the chances that either Beaver or Forcier will be able to pick the system up quick enough to play next year? Will we be starting from square one in terms of the simplicity of the offensive package?




Thanks for the question. Not sure, we agree with your statement about difficult learning the system. Both Quarterbacks know the system. What they lack is skill set to execute, and overall talent.

It also does not help that the overall offense lacks talent and proper personnel to run the spread option offense.

Both Beaver and Forcier have better skills at running the spread option. This will help, but there are no guarantees. It is possible with year experience and full spring learning and running the offense, Threet could start the season at Quarterback next year.

Not saying either freshman Quarterback could not come in and start or even play a lot next year. It is very tough for a true freshman to come in and out seat the previous starter especially at Quarterback.

Remember Chad Henne had a decent first year, but even he struggled. He also had Braylon Edwards to throw the ball to as well. Whenever he got into trouble, he just threw the ball up and Braylon either caught it or made sure the defensive back did not.

Forcier might be the most ready Quarterback especially since he has been taught to be a Quarterback since he was little and having personal coaches to help him throughout his high school career. The biggest thing will he come in early and can he learn the complete system.
Threet has or will have a complete year over him in that area of learning the system.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BTN: Big Ten Beat

Mailbag Question:

Would all those changes that you guys described actually be a good thing right now?

Also all the changes on defense seems extreme ... does going small like having Williams or chambers a linebacker a good thing?

When do you throw in the towel and tell the seniors sorry we are looking to next year even though a lot of them put their blood, sweat, and tears into this program.
When is it the right time?

Is it better to move on and prepare for next year especially since your not going to go to a bowl game and get the extra practices?

Thanks Jim


Thanks for the question. This is one of the toughest questions coaching staffs face. When do you go to young guys, and do you burn a red-shirt to get valuable experience especially this late in the season.

With Michigan, they are playing for pride at this point; they cannot win a National Championship, Make a BCS bowl game, make any bowl game, or win Big Ten Title.

Therefore, why not experiment some and find out if some of the young kids can play. Especially when vets, seniors and juniors have not got the job done. One program to look how they turned it around so quickly is Notre Dame. They played many young guys when they went 3-9 and now are benefiting from it because they were able to see what they had and used the practice time in the fall to evaluate players while being able to see them in action during games.

Sometimes you have practice players and then sometime you have game players. Meaning some players bring their best during practice and you do not see any improvement in the games while a game player might not be that great in practices, but when the lights come on he ramps it up an notch or two for the games.

For going small on defense, how well as being "big" worked. Michigan’s lack of quickness and athleticism has killed them. Teams are beating Michigan on the perimeter and in the flats. The only way you find out if Williams or Chambers can be effective at Outside Linebacker is to try them.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

BTN: Coach Rod press conference

Michigan Football Tidbits:

Anything new with the team? Based on this week so far look for the following

1) Butler:
Could we actually have a Butler sighting? It's possible this weekend against Purdue. Butler seems to like playing Defensive End and Coach Rod and defensive coaches like the athleticism he brings.

In addition, we are playing three spread teams in a row, which may mean Butler could play in certain situations. Look for him (if he does play) to be primarily a pass rusher. However, these recent developments could change my mind in terms of him returning his senior year. Wont really know until off-season and big question will be does he want to go through another Barwis off-season. With our lack of depth and youth at Defensive End next year chances are now 50/50.

2) Linebacker position:
Could be interesting to watch this weekend. Main reason everyone now seems to be healthy. Painter and Evans both back practicing full blast and of course there are some who want to see Fitzgerald in the rotation. Coaches really did not give up on either Painter or Evans they both were hurt and have been dinged up for almost a month now.

3) Williams:
Is becoming a player coaches really like at either Linebacker or Safety and was suppose to be big part of game plan last Saturday until injury. Right now with Linebacker's getting healthy and our lack of depth in secondary you could see Williams playing both this Saturday (if he is cleared to play).

4) Mike Shaw:
Okay this Saturday could be his big chance so let us hope he does not fumble. Injuries have been a issue, but also Coach Rod who watches Running Back's very closely has not been impressed with Shaw’s (patience) as a runner. He wants to go too fast too soon, this has created situations where he put himself in a position to not read the play properly, and ends up getting hit which causes the fumbles. If he has a good week of practice they want to give him a good shot this weekend

Side note:
While posters like me would really like to see some of the younger kids or kids like Patterson to get a shot Coach Rod has told the team he will play some other kids as long as he feels they put Michigan in the best position to win. The big reason is when he preaches, "you earn your spot every day" it would go against his coaching to allow someone to play in a game just to see how he does so they will have to earn in during practice.

5) Something I have not mentioned before, but for those kids who are red-shirting the season is somewhat different than in years past. Not only do these kids participate on the "scout team", but also they actually go through something similar to an off-season program with Barwis. Red-shirting at Michigan under Coach Rod is not a great deal in some respects those kids are asked to do double duty.

6) Speaking of those freshmen:
I have mentioned recently that word is O'Neill seems to coming on in the past month. I stand by that statement and he will be one I will closely observe during spring practice. Whether he is ready to play next year is still in doubt, but there is no doubt that if Frey had his wish someone would step up in order to move Schilling inside to Right Guard. Schilling by the way prefers to stay at Right Tackle.

7) Coaches:
They are well aware of a losing season really opens the door for competition to go after Michigan's existing recruits. At this point they are somewhat confident they can maintain almost all existing commits, but understand they have to keep recruiting them very hard.

8) Every year:
It is interesting to see whom the coaches like to use in freshmen class to help with recruiting. Early returns are that B. Smith is one of coach’s favorites and really believe he is going to be a good player at Michigan. Coaches really think we need a lot more depth in defensive secondary and Smith will provide that next year. Smith was host to Vlad this weekend and coaches seem to think Vlad is possible, but may not be probable. He seems to really like Wisconsin if Ohio State does not offer. But Michigan will keep recruiting him hard. Smith however seems to be one of those kids others gravitate towards maybe a future leader on this team.

9) Just a comment from a coach:
It is possible that over half to 2/3 of the starters next year will be either sophomores, red-shirt sophomores, freshmen, or red-shirt freshmen. Therefore, while this year’s team is young we may be even younger next year.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BTN: Field Hockey Highlights

Coaches Corner: Defense is it time to see what others can do?

Time to get ready for next year and see who can play

Well we would like to see major changes and see who can play. Does not mean certain players are not doing well, but with no (15) bowl practices this is the time to see what they have for next year and also what positions that they need to recruit harder even if that means promise kids that they can/will start as true freshman.

Does this mean it will happen? Probably not because the coaches still believe they can win ball games and there message to the team is we play the best players to win now and you earn your spot to play everyday.

We do believe they will start to work other guys into the rotation and see what they can do in practice and then evaluate them to see if they get snaps in the games coming up the rest of the season.

Well this is where we would really make some huge changes. What do you have to lose now? Does it matter if you win two games this year or three to four? Again not saying it will happen now or even this season, but might be a good thing to see what certain players can do this year since you have no bowl practice to experiment with like in past years.

We believe we need to get Boo Boo in the starting line up. Also, time to see what Fitzgerald can do. This is where we would make the biggest adjustments is at the linebacker positions. Might even move Trent to safety or possible to the nickel position the rest of the year even though that is highly unlikely.

Defensive End – Graham

Defensive Tackle – Martin

Defensive Tackle – Taylor

Defensive End – Obi

Linebacker - Mouton

Linebacker - Fitzgerald

Linebacker – Williams (especially if healthy and going against spread teams) if not
try Chambers.

Cornerback - Boo Boo

Cornerback – Warren

Safety – Trent

Safety - Harrison

Not saying bench all the starters like Johnson, Thompson, Brown, Stewart and others, and start from scratch, but just work some of these guys into the rotation during the week to see if they can handle playing time on Saturday.

Kids might as well see what they can do:
Butler at DE,

RVB at DT to see if he can get a push those others cannot (even though he does not like that move).

Other kids to get them some snaps since they might be counted on next season and sometimes kids are better game players then practice players.
Patterson, Kates, Herron, Sagesse, Banks, Williams – Safety or Linebacker (if healthy), Woolfolk at CB, Chambers.

Sorry if missed anybody.

Again do not burn anymore shirts if needed. Please

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Coaches Corner: Offense is it time to see what others can do?

Time to get ready for next year and see who can play

Well we would like to see major changes and see who can play. Does not mean certain players are not doing well, but with no (15) bowl practices this is the time to see what they have for next year and also what positions that they need to recruit harder even if that means promise kids that they can/will start as true freshman.
Does this mean it will happen? Probably not because the coaches still believe they can win ball games and there message to the team is we play the best players to win now and you earn your spot to play everyday.

We do believe they will start to work other guys into the rotation and see what they can do in practice and then evaluate them to see if they get snaps in the games coming up the rest of the season.

The rest of the year, we would like to see them move Schilling to Right Guard (even though he is not a big fan of that move) and mover Dorrestein to Right Tackle. Would also like to see them move Moosman to Offensive Center. If he has some bad snaps so what now does it really matter?

Nothing against Molk who is a good kid, but it is time to see who will play that position next year because Molk just is not big enough to be that guy even with another year of S&C. Get Shaw in the rotation at either Running Back or Slot Receiver.

At this stage in the year please do not burn anymore red-shirts no matter what … please.

WR – Mathews
Slot – Odoms
Left Tackle - Ortmann
Left Guard - McAvoy
Offensive Center - Moosman
Right Guard - Schilling
Right Tackle - Dorrestein
Tight End - Koger
Wide Receiver - Stonum
Quarterback - Threet
RB - Minor

Get these players in the rotation to see what they can do.

OC – Molk we have seen what he can do, but he should not be benched completely. Thrown him in there to help and let him get some playing time.

OG – Ferrara – We seen him early, but might want to see what he can do now a few weeks later. Could he be a kid that will never find a spot or could he be moved back to defense if recruiting does not work out.

Huyge – Try him out on the offensive line (Offensive Guard) somewhere in the rotation to see what he can do. He has the skill set to be good in this system.

RB/Slot - Shaw

Slot – Rogers

RB – McGuffie (if healthy) get him some carries.

RB/Slot – Carlos Brown (if healthy) to see what he can do.

RB - Grady

WR - Hemingway (if healthy) to see how he will fit in this offense.

WR - Savoy

WR – Clemons

TE - Webb and Watson might be a good time to see if they can play or move them to another position.

Would like to see Michigan use the slots more in running game, hence let us get some playmakers on the field.

Let us get two of our good and even all three Running Backs on field at same time. McGuffie or Shaw teaming at slot with Odoms. The bigger guys such as Koger and Clemons, etc at slot are just not able to stretch defense and get Outside Linebackers out of the box.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BTN: Soccer Highlights

Michigan Football Tidbits:

During a couple appearances, Coach Rod has said there are some positive things behind the scenes that are not noticeable but will pay off in the end. What does he mean?

S&C program continues even through the season. This is much different from in years past. Although the "Barwis effect" has been hampered because of lack of production by some players Barwis will argue his program is designed to make players faster and more explosive over the long haul. So positive #1 the kids have bought in and we will eventually see results

Practices are intense and tough. Coach Rod likes to make practices harder than games and there were quite a few players who had trouble adjusting to the day in and day out intensity. During the past few weeks it seems players have started to be much more consistent in their practice approach so positive #2 long term practice structure will pay off.

Coaching staff if filled with young, energetic, vocal guys. In addition, despite varying opinions on their ability to coach all of them are loyal and have completely bought in to the approach and future of the program. Coach Rod also is very loyal to his coaching staff so positive #3 a focused staff which will also pay off in future.

Coach Rod of course has a reputation of just wanting to win. In addition, he has probably let some things slide this year while he gives players and others a chance to adapt to his style. But there are signs that Coach Rod has become impatient and feels he has now given everyone enough time and look for things to change now after the Michigan State game has been played and not much hope for a bowl game.

This transition Coach Rod really tried to start back in the spring and then early in the fall, but later felt he was pushing too hard too soon.

Therefore, although he still coached hard he probably allowed some kids more time to adjust. Some he had his fill of (ala Butler) and most of the kids who he wanted to allow more time have slowly come around. Those who have not will see less time and are prime candidates not to be back next year. Positive #4 Coach Rod by next year will be more like the real Coach Rod.

1) I know we have games left, but I expect Barwis winter program and spring practice to be as intense as anyone could imagine. There will be even a bigger push on for kids to work even harder and those who lag behind will be left behind. Positive #5 when kids take the field next September the kids on the roster will be ones who we know have made the transition. Next years team will be considered Coach Rod's first team.

2) Regarding Coach Shafer. Although I understand I will take numerous hits because of my stance on Coach Shafer, I continue to believe he is a future top coach in college. In some respects, Michigan has two head coaches Coach Rod and Coach Shafer because Coach Shafer has almost exclusive power in terms of defense. Coach Shafer is a very energetic coach who I think is in the process of learning by making mistakes, but he also allows his defensive coaches to have a huge say in what schemes they run. As much as posters want to give Coach Rod some time, we have to allow Coach Shafer some time as well. If through six games next year we see little improvement I will be the first one to call for changes.

3) I have mentioned that I fully expected Evans to get additional snaps in games and it just has not happened. Well reason is Evans has had a nagging injury (high ankle sprain) for an extended period. But Linebacker is going to be a huge emphasis during the remaining of year and into the spring and Michigan seems to be going full out to try and get Jenkins. But if they don't and assuming Bell, Jones, Barnes, and Hawthorne need at least a year to get stronger that means in 2009 our main five Linebacker's (unless Herron shows big improvement) will be Demons, Evans, Fitzgerald, Ezeh, and Mouton. A decent group will get better, but still lacks that great speed Shafer desires at Linebacker.

4) Believe it or not there are some associated with team who just think S. Brown is going to become a good player at Michigan. They will tell you that Brown really has only played seven-eight games (he rarely saw the field in past) and will be a key player next year. They will admit they expected much more out of Brown this year (remember he was our MVP on defense in spring) but they are not giving up on him.

5) Just a comment I heard. Although we seem to be able to recruit a ton of Running Back's the Running Back out of Florida who is on Millers High School team is the Running Back who Michigan coaches compare favorably to Devine at WV. Don’t know if he comes to Michigan, but they think he will be an impact player at Michigan.

6) Coach Rod is insisting that instate recruiting will be very aggressive next year. During off-season there is going to be a huge effort to form relationships with High School coaches not only in Michigan by throughout Midwest.

7) This team and program will continue to work which will pay off in long run.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Mailbag Question:


Your blog is the very best and very informative.

My question:

Why is it that our opponents seem to be able to play pitch and catch against us while our receivers are covered like a blanket? I know that coaches see these people every day, have they decided that we do not have the material to press and man up. Opponents catch the ball in space and then we miss a tackle. If our receivers do manage to make a catch, they are drilled right away. Do you have an opinion?




Thanks for the question and the positive comments. There are a few problems with Michigan's offense.

First off, Michigan does not have a viable vertical game that backs opponents up. Cornerbacks can crowd the line of scrimmage without much worry of getting beat over the top.

Secondly, our Split Ends and slot receivers have not done a very good job of blocking on the edge.

Third, our quarterbacks do not get the ball to our receivers in positions to make yards after the catch.

Lastly, most of our Split Ends are not very good at making the first guy miss and gaining yards after a catch.

The defense has a few problems of its own.

You are spot on when you say that we do not have the cornerbacks to get into opposing wide receivers' faces and play press coverage. During the spring the coaching staff did try to play press coverage, but it did not work very well. We reported (after watching several spring practices) that Stonum took Warren to school quite a bit during one on one drills. One time during the drills Warren and Stonum went head to head four times in a row and finally Coach Shafer told them to get the hell out of there.

Michigan's outside linebackers are not very good in the flats.

Also, with regard to the outside linebackers and cornerbacks, they are not adept at shedding blocks and making tackles.

Finally, Michigan's safeties keep taking terrible angles, and it costs the team dearly.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Monday, October 27, 2008

BTN: Michigan State at Michigan "Highlights"

Coaches Corner: Grading the five things to look out for against Michigan State

Coaches Corner: Grading the five things to look out for against Michigan State:


1) Defensive tackles play: C

This group got a B+ in the first half as they got good penetration and controlled the Michigan State running game, forcing them to run outside.

However, the got a D for the second half as they were constantly getting blocked and even moved backwards at times.

2) Linebackers play: D-

The only thing that prevented this from being an F was Ezeh’s play in the middle. Michigan State was able to attack Michigan in the flats, running and passing almost at will. In addition, the linebackers were terrible at getting underneath coverage.

3. Safety play: F

Missed tackles, blown assignments, terrible positioning. What else is there? At least they are consistent?

4) Contain: F

Michigan State was able to attack outside the hashes with their running and passing. In the last two drives Ringer bounced to the outside third of the field and controlled both clock and game.

5) Big Plays: F

Michigan gave up too many long runs and passes.

5a) Tackling: C-

Not good but better.

5b) Turnovers: B

Michigan's defense did create turnovers, with one leading to a Michigan score.


1) Get First Downs: D-

Michigan had too many three and outs, keeping the defense on the field way too long.

2) Turnovers: F

Four is too many to beat a good team.

3) Negative plays: C-

Better but still not good. Michigan was consistently in third and long, and as stated this offense does not have the firepower to overcome this.

4) Create Big Plays: D-

Minor had a few nice runs and an outstanding catch, but nothing else.

5) Protect Threet: F

Five sacks and numerous hits and knock downs.

Special teams:

1) Kicking and Kick Return: C-

Did not give up a big return, but did not have one, either.

2) Field Goals: Incomplete

Did not even attempt one.

3) Punt Well: A

Mesko punting was one of the highlights of the game. How sad is it that he is our weapon on offense?

4) Big Plays: B

Blocked field goal was huge!

5) Turnovers: Wash

None caused, none lost.

This team played a terrible second half. The theme for this season seems to be one good half of football is about all Michigan can put together. At some point tduring the game things seem to click, as happened late in the second quarter and into the early part of the third. But the team reverts to form in every game.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Michigan Football Tidbits: Post Michigan State Game "Ugly is now officially here":

Michigan Tidbits, Post Michigan State:

Ugly is now officially here.

Six things to look out for from this point forward:

1) Focus on recruiting … recruit, recruit, recruit. It is the only way out of this mess right now.

2) Fitzgerald, Patterson, Sagesse, Kates, and Chambers: Please play them, it’s time to find out if they are players, and it would help knowing what we have going into next spring. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING to lose now!

3) Sometimes, spring practices tell you more than you think. For example, ErocWolverine, Coach Bt and MaizeMan tried to tell posters Minor is our best offensive player. I think we have found our leader (I guess that would be considered an improvement). We were roasted by a lot of posters for saying the same things those posters are now complaining about.

4) Coach Rod makes 2.5 million dollars a year with a six year contract (6.5 million this year with the buyout with West Virginia). Couple that with my post about the pressure Bill Martin is under and believe me there will be progress and, if necessary, changes made during the off-season. Some have speculated that this is mostly the defense’s fault and that Coach Shafer should be let go. I think bringing in another coach from West Virginia would be disastrous. I they bring in someone like a Mel Tucker to coach the defense I would be very happy. If not, how about hiring one of the Defensive coaches at Ohio State? At least they know how to play defense. I’m not saying Coach Shafer should be fired, nor am I saying that Coach Rod is looking to do something this year. Just an “if”.

5) It is hard to stay positive, but again, focus on recruiting. Keep in mind these young men and their parents read the boards. We have now officially bottomed out. Even if we lose rest of our games, getting beat by Michigan State has to be considered the low point. Send positive messages via the boards, stay upbeat, and you never know.

6) One other suggestion (for the product on the field): put Shaw in at slot receiver. Odoms must be hurt; he looks like he has lost about three steps since the season began.
Sunday is the beginning of new era of Michigan football. Try to view it that way, anyway; it might lessen the pain.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Michigan Football Tidbits:

This was written before the Michigan State at Michigan game****

I have enjoyed, in the past few months, reading posts by Gus81 on the GBW board. I know most posters immediately jump on him since he seems to always be negative, but believe me, his thoughts are shared by a great deal of important people around Michigan's football program, and most importantly, those who have or are donating money to the university. Posters can always say, “fans are fans we all have our opinions,” but in this case money talks.

Let me explain why Gus81 is correct when he says that Martin is to blame for the current state of affairs.

Immediately after the retirement of Carr (which, by the way, Carr and Martin had had numerous conversations regarding how and when this would happen), Martin formed a coaching search committee. The names on this committee still are hard to come by (some we know of for sure), but their initial primary task was to recommend the next coach.

The committee was given a list of requirements for a new coach:

1) Existing coach with Head Coaching experience.
2) Had been successful.
3) Preference that coach was younger and Michigan would be his "dream job".
4) Would be able to maintain Michigan's standards while running a winning program.
5) Ability to take Michigan's program to the next level.

Number 5 is important to understand because it eliminated anyone who was on Michigan's staff at the time. Boosters (donors) of the program were concerned because for many years Michigan had good teams, but wasn’t considered as overly successful, since they rarely beat Ohio State and rarely won a bowl game. In fact, since 2002, one could argue that Michigan never beat a team they were not supposed to beat (unless you count the yearly Penn State game), and always lost some game, usually in September, that they should have won.

The committee came back and recommended former Michigan player and coach, and current LSU head coach Les Miles. Martin (this is important) told the committee to go back and do more research. They did, and came back again recommending Miles, and offered a second choice of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Martin decided that this was not acceptable, and took over the search. He went out on his own and contacted Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, and also during that time received phone calls that Coach Rod was interested.

We all know what happened from that point on and here we are at 2-5. Coach Rod was found himself in a situation, and in a program, that he really did not understand. And throughout the process Martin has had to continue to raise money for many aggressive building campaigns.

Some of those donors who had committed or pledged money are not very happy with the results so far. If the football team was winning, they would probably be sending in their donations. It is not so much that they disapprove of Coach Rod. However, some think Martin did not stick with the original plans and process in hiring the coach, and made this decision by himself regardless of the committee’s work. It appears that he did not like their choice, subverted the process, and went out on his own to make the hire. The donors found out about this.

This is the main reason I said in my last blog that Coach Rod's honeymoon period is over. Unfortunately, Rodriguez is the victim in all of this. He had nothing to do with the process or the politics involved. And the bullshit will continue until he wins.

For those who question my statement about the honeymoon period being over, how many new coaches in the past have had the athletic director repeatedly give them a vote of confidence just six games into their first season?

Coach Rod is catching heat (most unwarranted), but nothing close to the heat Martin is getting. Martin has to continue to raise money and now he has an extra burden with the economic conditions. Notice that they put off the basketball practice facility until probably 2010 instead of breaking ground this spring. Also, sales on luxury boxes in the football stadium have come to a halt.

Coach Rod came to Michigan. He was placed in a difficult situation and now there is undue pressure on him because of decisions made by Martin.

So if Michigan comes out of this, Coach Rod will be the guy to get Michigan over the hump and he will be deserving of much more credit than just turning the program into a winner. He will be saving a lot of people's ASSES. The most unfair part for Coach Rod is that he is really a simple person. He is not a political animal like many football coaches; he is simply a football coach and that's all he wants to be.

So when you watch the games on Saturdays, especially this year, keep this blog in mind and try and understand the pressure Coach Rod is under. I have complete confidence in him. I believe he will be a much better coach because all of this, and that Michigan will eventually be back to national prominence. Buut when I say, "it will be ugly till then," hopefully you understand what I mean.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Saturday, October 25, 2008

BTN: Weather forecast for Michigan State at Michigan

Michigan State at Michigan Prediction

Michigan State 27
Michigan 14


Josh Turel:
Talk about a big game for Rich Rodriguez and the seniors. There is a lot of talk from Spartan fans of a blow out but I don't think we will see that. I was reviewing the film of the Northwestern game it reminded me a lot of what type of schemes we will see going against each other. Northwestern from a yardage perspective did very well against MSU but turnovers absolutely killed them, which I think will be the case here. Michigan's offense will need the outside zone and belly plays to work because I think if the running game gets established, the play action off the zone play should be there. If you watch the film Michigan State's linebackers are extremely aggressive to backfield action and that is why the centers and guards will really have to be quick with their steps and reads in the zone schemes and get to the second level, otherwise it is going to be really tight to find running room.

From the looks of the film, the linebackers have absolutely no cutback responsibility, which looks to be delegated to the safeties. I don't see the screen game being there other than out of the trips formation. Michigan State is primarily a 4-3 over team and they will play a lot of cover 4 with pressed corners and two low safeties to rotate to run support and also play deep quarters. I really respect Narduzzi and his defense; the problem for them under Narduzzi is giving up big plays in the passing game, which he acknowledges is a risk with his defense. The goal however is to stop the run first and I think that defense is built for a spread team like Michigan. Generally, you will see the backside defensive end stay home, Threet will see give read and the linebackers will fly down to press the zone play. The screen game will be tough to work with the squat cornerback but may have a chance to be effective if the safeties play deeper than usual.

On Michigan's end, I think the defense will determine this game. Shafer and Narduzzi run the same defensive structure with the 4-3 over scheme coupled with a lot of cover 4 and the occasional three-man nickel front vs. spread. Michigan State's offense is a lot like the power running teams of Jim Tressel at OSU. MSU's offense is primarily a gap scheme and they run the power play ALOT! This all goes back to the typical pro style of thinking in running a smaller number of plays from a lot of different formations and motions. You will see "power" 90% of the time with a playside double team, down blocks from the center and onside guard, kick out by the motioning tight end or I set fullback and a backside pull from the guard.

The theory is in the name, it is power football because you are getting a lot of guys to the point of attack and using blocking angles. Being a 4-3 over team, Michigan will have the defensive end stacked on the tight end and the strongside linebacker tucked just inside of him, playing the outside shoulder of the tackle. The keys to stopping power are one, the end stepping down and taking on the kick out block by the fullback or tight end. Second is flow from the linebackers, if you play the defense correctly, the play should cut back into the linebackers. Much like Michigan State, Michigan's linebackers are taught to pursue aggressively and leave the cutback to the safeties and the rotation of the cover 4 system. Like the zone play, the power play has a system of reads and in theory the play can account for stunts and blitzes but they must be picked up. Don Treadwell will sprinkle in some zone and iso plays but the power play is the bulk of the running attack. The passing game works best with play action, which also makes the motions hard to key on. There is a mix of quick game and deep stuff but overall, I think Michigan is most worried about stopping play action passes. Lastly, the play that scares me the most is the screen play to Javon Ringer, its worked well all year and if you tuned into last week's Michigan game, I don't need to continue on.

Michigan State 27
Michigan 17

Keys to victory for Michigan:-Run from the trips, 3 X 1 will get the defense unbalanced and open up the zone play a bit-Martavious Odoms in the middle of the field-Stop the power play-No turnovers-Pressure Hoyer on play action situations and force the quick read



For Michigan to win they must play four quarters of football. Can they?

Michigan State 27
Michigan 20


Special Guest this week PaulWez:

For Michigan to win, they have to do three very simple things. One - the defense has to keep Javon Ringer in check. They don't have to completely shut him down - but they have to keep him from having a career game. Two - Threet has to stay in the game, and be able to be effective health-wise. We have one servicable QB on this team, and he's it. Without him for quarters one thru four, we're in trouble. Three - no stupid mistakes. That doesn't mean 0 turnovers, it means don't turn the ball over by a pass turning out to be lateral and not picking it up - it means no dumb personal foul penalties that give MSU field position and swing momentum. If all those three things happen, Michigan will win this game. But will they? My guess is we only get two outta three, and end up . . .

Michigan State 23
Michigan 21

Friday, October 24, 2008

BTN: Michigan State vs. Michigan Preview

Coaches Corner: Five things to watch for on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams during the Michigan State vs. Michigan game

Five things to watch for on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams during the Michigan State vs. Michigan game, and these are key if Michigan is going to pull off the big upset.

The Michigan defense needs to be better than just average if they are going to win this game.

1) Defensive Tackle Play:
Michigan’s defensive tackles must make a new line of scrimmage. If the Michigan State offensive line is able to simply stalemate Michigan’s defensive tackles, it will open up the cutbacks between the tackles for Ringer. If Ringer is able to hit those cutbacks, it also opens the bounces to the outside. We will talk more on keeping Michigan State between the hashes later.

2) Linebacker Play:
Michigan’s linebackers, inside and outside, must play their best game of the year. You will never stop, nor contain a power running game like Michigan State’s without superior linebacker play. Our linebackers must, repeat MUST take on the lead blockers, the fullback and the pulling offensive linemen in the hole. This has been a problem all year. They must fill, or it opens up seams that any competent running back can exploit. The linebackers must take on lead blockers with their inside arm, keeping outside leverage and keeping the shoulder free. If the lead blocker is able to pin the linebacker to the inside, the running back will be able read that block and break the play to the outside. Michigan must keep Ringer and the Michigan State offense between the hashes, again more on that later.

3) Safety Play:
Michigan Safeties play is going to be huge.
If our safeties miss tackles and allow Ringer to gain extra yards after contact this will be a long afternoon. Michigan safeties must play strong position football. After Ringer, the second biggest threat is Hoyer on play action series’. If Hoyer hits a few big passes to Dell and the other Spartan wide receivers it will make for a difficult afternoon.

4) Maintain Contain:
Michigan’s defensive ends, outside linebackers, and cornerbacks must maintain outside leverage. They cannot allow Ringer and Hoyer to break contain like they did Penn State. Michigan must keep Michigan State’s offense between the hashes. If they allow Michigan State to break containment and put stress on the defense, Michigan’s chances will be very thin. If Ringer is not kept between the hashes, and Hoyer is not kept in the tackle box, Michigan State will make big plays, and Michigan’s offense will have problems overcoming that.

5) No Big Plays:
In four of Michigan’s loses the defense has given up multiple long plays. With our offense being less than stellar and having problems scoring, big plays are almost impossible for Michigan to overcome. There is an old saying in coaching: Make them snap it again!

5a). OK we lied:
If we had put to put priorities for this game in order, Number 1 would be: TACKLE!

5b) Ok double lie:
Michigan must create some turnovers and negative plays. That would create a short field and be a big help to the offense.

For some reason many of our “Blue Brothers” have decided to give the Michigan offense a pass and blame this season on Coach Shafer’s defense. In our opinion, this is complete bullshit. The offense has been sporadic at best, hanging the defense out to dry much of the time. If Michigan is going to win, the offense needs to play its best game, PERIOD!

1) Get first Downs:
Michigan must control the clock, move the chains, and keep field position. Michigan cannot go three and out again and again like they did in the second half of the Penn State game. Michigan’s defense is just not dominant enough to overcome large time of possession disadvantages.

Instead of caps, this should be in neon lights! Michigan cannot give Michigan State short fields and win.

3) Limit Negative plays:
Michigan does not have the firepower or big play capability to face third and long and pick up first downs on a regular basis. Limited penalties is another priority. The five yard penalties that happen before the snap have killed more than one Michigan drive this year.

4) Create some Big Plays:
Michigan has to create space for this offense to be effective. They must force Michigan State to play honest and not load the box. They MUST stretch the field and make Michigan State defend every inch of it.

5) Protect Threet:
We see almost no way for Michigan to win with Nick Sheridan at quarterback. This is not a knock on him, but we have stated since this spring that Michigan’s best chances for victories require Threet to be the quarterback. We took a lot of heat for this in the spring, summer, and fall, but it sure has become the reality this season. Threet cannot take too many hits, period!

Special Teams:
1) Kick off and Kick Off Return:
Must contain Michigan State and pin them deep when possible. It seems like most teams have been starting at about the thirty-yard line after a Michigan kick off. Michigan must do a better job turning the field position game in their favor. The Wolverines also need their return team to help the offense out by not forcing it to start deep in Michigan territory.

2) Field Goals:
When we are in position, we must be able to add points on the board, especially with our offense.

3) Punt Well:
Michigan needs to reverse field position when necessary with the punt team. Mesko has been doing a good job lately, but the other ten men on the field have to do their part as well. On Penn State’s punt block, they forced the “up” blocker back into Mesko, and he stood no chance of getting that kick off.

4) Big Play:
In these types of rivalry games big plays can be the difference. Whoever creates them usually wins, and whoever allows them usually loses.

5) Turnovers:
We cannot keep turning the ball over on special teams. It would be nice to see Michigan reverse that and create turnovers on special teams for a change.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Coaches Corner: Michigan State Preview:

After being spanked by Ohio State last week, Michigan State will be looking to take out years of “Little Brother” frustration this week. The key for both teams will be the health of their starting quarterbacks. Both Hoyer and Threet are banged up.

Michigan State is a good old-fashioned sprint draw and fullback lead offense. In addition, while Hoyer, if healthy, is a competent quarterback, and Mark Dell is a solid wide receiver, there is no doubt that the star of this team is Ringer. If Michigan is going to beat Michigan State they must stop, or at least slow down, Ringer.

Michigan State is a base 4-3 team that utilizes a zone blitz scheme. The Spartans' leading tacklers are linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordan. The star of their defense is probably strong safety Otis Wiley, who is third in tackles and leads the team with four Interceptions.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Michigan Hockey: Niagara vs. Michigan 10/23/08

Niagara vs. Michigan
7:30pm EDT. - 10:00pm EDT.
DirecTV Channel 617
Fox College Sports

BTN: Michigan State Press Conference

Mailbag Question:

Hi guys,

What do you guys think about Sheridan. It seems like he has played himself down the roster. He seems lost out there and the offense seems to self-destruct. Do not know if it is a lack of leadership or lack of trust the other players have in him, or what. I really do not see how Feagin or the other guys could do any worse. What do you guys think?

-- JD


Thanks for the question. We have great respect for Nick Sheridan here. Any player who walks on and earns playing time has the heart and fire every program needs. We also respect that Nick Sheridan loves Michigan and absolutely bleeds maize and blue. We will never question Sheridan's heart or effort.

We have been very consistent with what we thought about Sheridan as the Michigan quarterback. We maintain that Sheridan just does not have major college talent or arm. We tried to warn people of this, but they did not believe us or called us haters for our comments. We were especially villified when it came out that he would start agianst Utah and we stated that we believed there was a better chance to win with Threet. We do not understand what Coach Rod saw in Sherdian. We did not see the same things.

Sheridan’s inability to hit key passes definitely hinders the offense. It is obvious to us that opponents realize this and load the box when Nick comes into the game. This makes it almost impossible to move the ball with any consistency. That has to work on team’s confidence.

As for Feagin, it is tough for us to evaluate or guess what is going on with him. We have a hard time believing that if Feagin is capable of leading Michigan better than Threet or Sheridan, that he would not be playing. Regardless what people believe or think about Coach Rod, he is very proud man and hates to lose. It also becomes a decision as to whether you waste a kid's eligibility for a year when not much of the season is left. Feagin does not know the playbook that well and he has not gotten a lot of reps this year, especially recently.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Michigan Tidbits: Defense and Future

Michigan Tidbits: Defense and future.

First, here are some additional thoughts on my visit to Alabama last weekend and also some more comments from the Crimson Tide coaching staff.

I think Alabama and Michigan are very similar in terms of where both programs were and how they are trying to get back to national prominence. When it comes to recruiting, the assistant coaches at Alabama explain that Coach Saban's philosophy is although you have to be competent at your position, recruiting is the main reason you were hired. In addition, Saban,like many top coaches, believes that you develop on offense, but you recruit for defense.

This has been my issue with Michigan in the past five years. We simply have missed on too many top defensive players, and Coach Rod has to turn that around.
Alabama coaches believe the reason you have to spend more time on recruiting defense is simply that defensive players are harder to evaluate. Why? Because almost every top high school player is on offense. They may play both, but the top talent is on the offensive side of the ball. So you have to evaluate, and often just guess, on how good a defensive player the recruits are.

Side-note: This is why Saban favors recruiting JUCO kids, especially for defense. He thinks they become easier to judge. For example, his top defensive lineman this year (Cody) is a JUCO player and is sometimes given most of the credit for Alabama's defensive improvement.

My conclusion: Recruit, recruit, recruit! And please concentrate on defensive players.

Now to the Michigan Defense:

Defensive Line:

Of course, we all know about Martin. As reported last March, he is our best freshman and has a big future at Michigan.

I know he is not a freshman, but he is still a big mystery to a great deal of posters and at times, his coaches. Patterson had a huge summer. He was one of the team’s workout warriors who did everything he could to move up the depth chart. Unfortunately, he simply does not perform in practice and seems to project the attitude that he is just happy with his place on the team, and he does not seem overly competitive. After Michigan State, I am hoping Patterson gets some additional snaps to see if he can play in game situations. As of now, though, both RVB and Banks are ahead of him.

He is another kid who needs more of a chance. Sagessee is going to have to be a big part of this team a year from now unless they decide to move RVB inside (which RVB is not a big fan of). Sagessee had no spring practice experience (injury) and limited fall participation, but it is time to find out if he can play.

It seems as though Kates’ only chance at Michigan is if Big Will decides not to become a Wolverine. If that happens, then Kates may be forced into playing time because of a lack of depth. It does not help his situation that we haven’t played a team that fits his style except Wisconsin. As with Patterson, I’d like to see him get more snaps after the MSU game—snaps he has worked hard enough to earn.

Martin was the only defensive linemen recruited last year. This year we have four, assuming Big Will, Jones, LaLota, and Roh sign in February. But we need to upgrade both depth and athleticism on the defensive line, and I hope there is a major focus on getting the top kids possible.

Defensive line coach Bruce Tall has been okay, not great, and this may be one area of the coaching staff that could be upgraded.


He is one of key kids to watch this spring. He could be a big part of the defense next year. Why? Because is he is probably the smartest linebacker we have in terms of football instincts. He is not the most obviously athletic linebacker on the team, but he rarely makes mistakes. He has enough speed and is physical, and also shows signs of being able to handle pass coverage. Hopson is high on him and I have no doubt he will go through Barwis workouts with the proper attitude. If anything, he will add very good depth a year from now and challenge starters enough that they will have to perform to keep their jobs.

I cannot see how he does not start next year, assuming of course that he goes through off-season workouts with the proper attitude. Fitz plays with a great motor and seems to really love playing football. He is very upbeat, enthusiastic and talented. He needs to get stronger, but there is no reason he cannot be ready by September of next year. He is better at middle linebacker, but his ability to gain strength may determine where he plays next fall.

Bell, Hawthorne and Jones all seem like the same type of player to me: outside linebacker types who will have more speed than strength. All will need a least a year (IMO) to adjust to position changes and to be able to handle Division 1 football. As of now, Brandon Smith is still considered a safety, and is too good an athlete not to have a place in Michigan’s defense. In the future, speed will be upgraded, but the big question is: can these kids play?

I asked Alabama coaches about Barnes, who they were rumored to have offered. They confirmed the offer. They said Barnes was the type of linebacker Saban likes: a big kid who has athletic ability and can be developed. They looked at him as a kid who may not play until his red shirt sophomore year, but could end up being a good one. At the very least, they felt he was worth a scholarship.

Defensive Back's:

The big question is whether he has enough speed to play cornerback at Michigan. He will have to be a fundamental type of cornerback and a switch to safety is not out of the question. Because of his size, Michigan coaches might prefer to keep him at cornerback. The good news is he is one of the most competitive and highly motivated kids on the team. Everyone agrees he needed the red shirt, but coaches do not see him far behind Boo Boo. Floyd may be one of those kids who is just a football player, and Michigan needs a bunch of football players.

Boo Boo:
The best news on Boo Boo is that he takes the game very seriously. He is a very coachable kid, but he tends to get excessively excited during games and overplays too may times. Because of that, the coaches have decided to take their time with him and pick their spots to get him into a game. However, with some more experience and growing confidence, he will be a good one.

B. Smith:
Smith is the one kid who came to Michigan and played just about as advertised. He is physical, athletically gifted and was very impressive in camp defending the run. He seemed to struggle in pass coverage. The injury really hurt his progress, but may have been a blessing in disguise because he is now red shirted and will have a whole year to get ready. From viewpoint, I can’t see him not playing somewhere next year, at least on the 2 deep and getting major snaps. I think he will be a four year contributor at Michigan.

Despite posters questioning my sanity at times, I still maintain that Michigan's most consistent problem in the last five years has been the recruitment of defensive kids. Sure, we have had some top kids, but football is a team sport and even more so on defense. And despite some great players (some of whom did not play anywhere close to potential such as Woods, Watson, Burgess, Crable…I could go on), we did not have enough speed and depth throughout the program. I know posters will bring up 2006, but it’s hard to say that was a great defensive team because the only two good offenses they faced that year scored at will.

To conclude: Coach Rod needs to spend the remainder of his scholarships for the ’09 class on defensive players and then really hit the streets and go after the best players available for the ’10 class.

One more note:
Alabama coaches said the key to a great defense is being great up the middle; force opposition try to go wide or pass wide. Then there is less of the field to defend. Does anyone think we are strong up the middle? I didn’t think so.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BTN: Brandon Minor

BTN: Coach Rod press conference

Mailbag Question:


Thanks for everything you guys are doing. What is your opinion regarding possible 5th year Seniors who have viable options either way regarding NFL or coming back for some more next year? I suppose this is all an eligibility question so who has those options for 2009?

Also who do you see not returning because of their own reasons or coaches pushing them to not return?

Go Blue!



Thanks for the question.

It is too early to know for sure what possible fifth year seniors returning. What is left of the 2005 recruiting class? Is there a possibility that guys like Andre Criswell, Carson Butler, Laterryal Savoy, and possibly Kevin Grady will not be asked back?

2005 kids that will not be back because they have used up all their eligibility are Austin Panter (JC), Brandon Harrison, and Terrance Taylor.

That leaves Zoltan Mesko, Mark Ortmann, Cory Zirbel (recovering from injury), Tim McAvoy, and David Moosman from that recruiting class as guys who can come back next year.

Tim McAvoy is a big question mark. His return might depend on how many scholarships Michigan has, and how well the younger players are doing at the end of the season.

It will be very interesting to see what happens with Kevin Grady because he could go to a Grand Valley to play his last year. I think it comes down to whether he wants to play more or just be on a team.

Now for players that might look at the NFL: Before the season there was speculation about Brandon Graham. Greg Matthews is also a possibility to leave early.

Michigan needs Brandon Graham back. He would be almost impossible to replace at this time. Of the players who could leave early, their play doesn't appear to us to be the type that would lead them to be high enough draft picks to leave, and they should come back.

The list of players who have eligibility, cannot yet declare for the NFL draft, and who may or may not be asked back is too long to speculate about right now...Sorry!

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Toledo Blade: Article by Joe Vardon

Michigan expects Threet to start against Spartans


ANN ARBOR – Michigan quarterback Steven Threet is expected to start Saturday against rival Michigan State despite a bruised elbow that’s sidelined him for portions of the Wolverines’ last two games.

Threet first bruised his elbow and missed the entire second half against Toledo, then aggravated the injury early in the third quarter in UM’s 46-17 loss to Penn State. He missed all but one series while a 17-17 tie turned into a rout.

“It’s better today than it was yesterday,” Threet said. “It’s better this week than it was last week after it happened the first time.”

Threet said he will play Saturday – a statement confirmed by Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez. That’s good news for UM.

The Wolverines haven’t scored a point with Threet on the sideline and backup Nick Sheridan under center the last two weeks. Threet played well against Penn State, completing 7-of-11 passes for 73 yards and rushing 10 times for 47 yards in leading UM to a 17-14 halftime advantage.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Toledo Blade: Article by Joe Vardon

Threet wants a shot at MSU
QB has troublesome elbow


ANN ARBOR - Steven Threet is going to play against Little Brother - a.k.a. Michigan State - Saturday, even if he needs another cortisone shot to soothe his bruised right elbow.

And he hates needles.

"I'm terrified of needles, actually," said Threet, who revealed he's received a shot each of the last two weeks because of his nagging elbow injury. "I can't look when they do it."

Michigan fans know the feeling. They can't watch when Threet's backup is playing quarterback.

In the Wolverines' last two games - both losses - Threet has missed all or most of the second halves because of his bruised elbow. UM (2-5, 1-2) has scored exactly zero points with Nick Sheridan playing in his place.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Detroit News: Article by Angelique Chengelis

Michigan looking to rebound

Angelique S. Chengelis / The Detroit News

ANN ARBOR -- Sure, Saturday's game for the Wolverines is about keeping the Paul Bunyan Trophy comfortably ensconced in the confines of Schembechler Hall.

Beating Michigan State this year weighs the same as it does any year at Michigan -- this is for state bragging rights, after all -- but perhaps this year it carries a bit more weight for the Wolverines.

They are 2-5 overall, riding a three-game losing streak, including a 46-17 drubbing at third-ranked Penn State on Saturday, and enter the Michigan State game at Michigan Stadium as underdogs.

Yes, this might be for the state championship, but the Wolverines want something more. They want to resuscitate a season that has gone downhill quickly. They need a jump start for these final five games and need to win at least four to become bowl eligible, or Michigan will see its streak of 33 bowl games come to an end.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Detroit News: Article by Angelique Chengelis

U-M's Threet vows to play against MSU

U-M quarterback says treatment has helped bruised elbow, guarantees he'll be ready.

Angelique S. Chengelis / The Detroit News

ANN ARBOR -- Quarterback Steven Threet issued a guarantee Monday as Michigan prepared for Michigan State on Saturday -- he will play.

"I would say I'd be ready to go on Saturday," said Threet, who has been hampered by a bruised right (throwing) elbow since Oct. 11 and reinjured it at Penn State.

An X-ray last week did not reveal a broken or chipped bone.

A week ago, Threet's status was questionable.

"There's a bump on it kind of still," he said. "Not huge. It's not like a baseball on my elbow. Swelling has gone down from some treatment, but it's more just a matter of not being able to move it.

Daily treatment includes icing, and ultra-sound stimulation. Threet will continue to work the arm to make certain he has full range of motion. He said he will practice today and the rest of the week as long as the elbow does not give him problems

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Detroit News: Article by Angelique Chengelis

Rodriguez: U-M's Threet will play vs. MSU

Angelique S. Chengelis / The Detroit News

ANN ARBOR -- Michigan quarterback Steven Threet continues to nurse a bruised right elbow but will be able to play Saturday against Michigan State.

"He'll be able to play," coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday.

Rodriguez said Threet was better Monday than he was a week ago, when he was listed as questionable.

Threet injured the elbow in the Toledo game and missed the second half. He was questionable last week but started against Penn State. He reinjured the elbow early in the second half.

"He should be able to practice tomorrow," Rodriguez said Monday. "He's a little better today than he was a week ago."

Threet was expected to meet the media Monday as the team prepares for Michigan State (3:30 p.m., ABC).

Michigan Football Tidbits: Offense and Future

Looking ahead to 2009, I am constantly being asked how the freshmen are doing.

Since the program has gone from "transition" to "rebuilding" to now "starting over," the freshmen class will play an important role with the "New Michigan".

Offensive Line:

Barring some unforeseen injury (remember Zirbel), or Barnum just getting too homesick (which can happen to kids that far away from home when not playing), I think you can pencil him in at left guard in 2009 and he will anchor the offensive line for the next four years.

He needs to get more physical at contact, but has improved a ton since coming to Michigan and will be our most athletic offensive lineman next year.

Note to Coach Rod: please do not take the red-shirt off him.

I do not see him starting in 2009, but he will push Molk next year. Molk should keep his starting job assuming, of course, that Mooseman does not end up moving back to offensive center. Khoury is another above average athletic kid who seems to have the best work ethic of this year’s freshman class.

Posters are very premature in thinking Omameh will be a factor in 2009. He has a long way to go, is very raw, and needs a ton of work on his footwork, especially in pass protection. He needs a couple of years with Barwis. I don’t see him being a factor at Michigan until 2010, but he is the type of player that is worth taking a chance on and has a huge upside if he keeps his intensity

I expect O'Neill to be our most improved offensive lineman in 2009. He has had some transitional issues with college football and has had problems with pass blocking, but he has shown some improvement in the last month. O'Neill is just one of those kids who over analyzes everything and can be a little too hard on himself. He needs to gain some confidence. I think that will happen during the next off season with Barwis and in spring practice.

Running Back:

Still a big question on whether he will be at Michigan at the start of 2009. He made the decision this year to stick it out and see what role he would play. The success of Minor helps his chances at Michigan since Cox is very similar to Minor. Cox is underrated and could be a very good football player at Michigan. He was injured his senior year in High School and feels he is now completely healthy and in shape. He not only runs with power, but also has above average speed. His main issue could be that he runs too high.

Wide Receivers:

I know some posters have questioned my evaluation of Stonum, but I still maintain he is our best wide receiver right now. There is no wide receiver we can recruit who is better than Stonum, and Michigan needs to make him an important part of the game plan. Stonum has shown some signs of immaturity, such as staying involved in the game when he is not getting the ball, but his talent is obvious.

He is a possession type receiver, but as advertised he has great hands and shows a knack of being in the right spot at the right time. His blocking is an issue, and he needs to get a lot more physical. I think he sees some important playing time next year. He is one of those kids who just seems to know how to play (something lacking with the majority of the players at Michigan).

Slot Receivers:

Y’all know about him.

Big injury issues, but he actually shows more quickness than Odoms. Change of direction is his biggest strength. Odoms is a tougher kid and Odoms seems to have better hands. The Slot position will not be an issue in 2009 with Odoms, T-Rob and incoming freshman Gallon.

Tight End:

Of course, he will be the returning starter in 2009. He needs to really upgrade his blocking ability. However, if all the kids on the team were as coachable as Koger, I doubt if things would have regressed this badly. I just hope the coaches make him a big part of the offense next year because unlike Butler, I think Koger will get better as he matures.

I will discuss the defense later.

Just some Tidbits:
I went to the Alabama-Mississippi game Saturday. Alabama must have had 250 kids visiting, and some were sophomores in high school. I was very impressed with the amount of time and energy they put into recruiting and talking to not only the kids, but also the parents.

Under Saban, Alabama will be a top 10 school for years to come. What does this have to do with Michigan? Because (my opinion) Alabama and Michigan have a ton of similarities. Both are traditional football powers with a name that by itself garners a lot of attention from high school athletes.

As I have tried to explain, Saban and Coach Rod are similar in that they both came to schools with big reputations of being winners. But Saban seems to better understand the value of recruiting, and makes no bones that the only way Alabama can get back to where it wants to be is through recruiting; thus, my comment that the only way back for Michigan is through recruiting.

While everyone can discuss what is wrong with this team, I believe ErocWolverine, CoachBt and I tried to warn people about the potential for problems back in the spring.

The one area where I think you will see major improvements by next year is on the offensive line. I believe the big reason for that is Coach Frey, our best position coach. The offensive line has struggled at times this year, but the key to the improvement I see is that Frey has a lot of experience coaching an offensive line in the spread.

Side-note to this point:
During my visit to Alabama this weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to the Alabama offensive line coach. He had a couple of interesting points.
First, playing offensive line in the spread offense is actually easier to learn, but harder to play. His point was he believes the spread is similar in a lot of ways to the old option game. He asked me to think back to all the great offensive lines at Nebraska when they were dominating college football and reminded me that almost every starter on their offensive lines were veterans who had been there for three years or more. His point was the older players are, the better they are in the spread.

He continued, saying that in the pro-style offense that Alabama employs, which relies on the power running game and play action, you can hide a younger player as long as he is strong enough to play. He said it is harder to do that with the spread because strength is less of an issue in that offense.

The Michigan State game, of course, is Michigan's season now. Michigan will go into this game with the same personnel that have been playing all season.

But look for some changes after the Michigan State game, like Fitzgerald playing some with the first group, and Sagesse getting more snaps.

In addition, it looks more and more like Feagin will eventually get some snaps this season, but not until after the Michigan State game.

The Shafer controversy:
As many know, I am a fan of Coach Shafer, although the defensive performance this year has been disappointing. Nevertheless (again an opinion) the worst thing Coach Rod can do is to make a change in the off-season and bring in another coach from West Virginia.

Finally, I said in the spring, in the summer, in the fall and I will say it again today: the crap with Coach Rod is not going away until he wins. Winning is his only way of being accepted by Michigan fans, and because of the lack of winning, the “BS” is at an all-time high.

The Honeymoon is officially over. A loss this weekend would make things very ugly. All of the adversity will make Rodriguez a better coach in the end, but it is just going to be unbearable for him the rest of this season, and this off-season is going to be a nightmare.

So again my message to Coach Rod remains: “recruit, recruit, recruit,” and if there are any coaches on the staff who do not understand this, please replace them.

written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ann Arbor News: Article by Pete Bigelow

Michigan's Brandon Graham boldly predicts victory over Michigan State

by Pete Bigelow The Ann Arbor News

The University of Michigan football may still be stinging from Saturday's loss at Penn State, the program's first defeat at the hands of the Nittany Lions since 1996.

The team may be careening toward its first absence from a bowl since 1975 and first losing season since 1967.

Despite the dubious historical marks, the Wolverines have not lost their confidence or swagger when it comes to facing Michigan State, their intra-state rival.

"We are not going to lose to State," defensive end Brandon Graham proclaimed Saturday following the team's 46-17 loss at Happy Valley.

"That's just, we're not going to lose to State," he said again, shaking his head. "We're going to work hard. We're going to win."

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Detroit News: Article by Angelique Chengelis

Angelique S. Chengelis: Michigan Football

The reality of U-M situation isn't pretty

ANN ARBOR -- It's Michigan-Michigan State week!

Big game! Maize and blue! Green and white! State bragging rights!

But first, before all the trash-talking between the MSU and Michigan fans begins this week, a dose of reality, at least from the Michigan side of things.

In case you missed it, here's a quick recap:

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• No. 3 Penn State broke a nine-game losing streak against Michigan and did so in a big (spread-covering) way, winning 46-17 (including a 32-0 second half) Saturday.

• Michigan has lost three straight for the first time since the 1979 season, when U-M dropped its final three -- Purdue, Ohio State and North Carolina in the Gator Bowl.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

BTN: Best plays of the weekend

Mailbag Question:


I would like to get a better handle on the adjustment period the defense is going through. Can you elaborate on the differences between Michigan's "bend but don't break" defense of the past and Shaffer's schemes? Specifically, the different type of players one needs over the other and the new demands or skills required by players in Shaffer's defense. And finally, where you guys see the defense currently being on the learning curve.


-- Q


Thanks for the question. Michigan’s new style of defense is going to take athletes who can run and cover in the back seven, and defensive linemen who can penetrate and get up field.

Old Michigan front four was more about holding gaps and tying up offensive linemen.

Michigan’s old linebackers were about stopping the run; new Michigan linebackers need to be strong at the line of scrimmage, but also need to be strong in coverage. They also need to be able to play and tackle in space.

Cornerbacks will need to be able to get in wide receivers faces and still keep deep leverage.

Safeties need to be able to tackle in space and play deep half. Old Michigan safeties were as much about tackling as coverage.

So many people are saying we need to be patient for Coach Rod's offense, but want to defensive coaches fired? Does not make much sense here because without the one the other is not any better. Look at the PSU first half where the offense was moving the ball, controlling the time of possession and also not making fundamental mistakes the defense looked very good.

written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Grand Rapids Press: Article by Howie Beardsley

One quarter isn't good enough for Wolverines

by Howie Beardsley The Grand Rapids Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The most asked question being tossed around the Beaver Stadium pressbox at the commencement of Saturday's Michigan-Penn State game was: Who are those guys impersonating football players in the maize and blue-colored uniforms?

Come to find out, it really was just an act on the part of the Wolverines.

Michigan made a failed attempt at being a worthy opponent against the No. 3 team in the country while continuing its freefall during a 46-17 loss.

Someday -- although it certainly appears it won't happen this season -- the Wolverines might figure out coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense and will learn to put together four quarters of football and regain their status as one of game's best programs.

Right now, they're nowhere close. They have a 2-5 record, drawing closer to the school's first losing season since 1967, and while on the brink of being denied a bowl game bid for the first time in 33 seasons.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Ann Arbor News: Article by John Heuser

Threet injures elbow again

by John Heuser The Ann Arbor News

Steven Threet started the game well for the University of Michigan football team, leading the Wolverines to 17 first-half points against No. 3 Penn State.

But in the third quarter, the Michigan quarterback re-injured his throwing elbow, and gave way to backup Nick Sheridan. For the second game in a row as an injury replacement, Sheridan was ineffective.

After completing eight of 16 passes for 65 yards and two interceptions against Toledo, Sheridan went 3-for-9 for 5 yards against the Nittany Lions in a 46-17 Penn State victory.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he considered sending freshman Justin Feagin into the game at quarterback, but decided against it, in part because of the difficult environment of Beaver Stadium. Feagin has yet to play this season.

"We were going to put him in there, we practiced him," Rodriguez said of Feagin. "We thought Steve was going OK. We thought Nick would be OK, too."

To read the rest of the article please visit:

Michigan Daily: Article by Nate Sandals

Early lead evaporates, Michigan gets blown out at Penn State

Three-game losing streak longest since 1967

By Nate Sandals
Daily Sports Editor On October 18th, 2008

STATE COLLEGE — Late in the first half against No. 3 Penn State, Michigan looked as if it might have the moxie to pull off an upset.

But the Nittany Lions proved there is no replacement for talent and experience, coming back from 10 points behind late in the second quarter to win 46-17 in front of 110,117 fans at Beaver Stadium — the fourth largest crowd in stadium history.

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Michigan over Penn State, dating back to 1997. It also extended the Wolverines losing streak to three games, the program’s longest slide since 1967.

It had to sting that much more for Michigan because everything was clicking early on.

Near the end of what had been, to that point, an outstanding first half for Michigan, the errors and inexperience of past weeks reappeared.

To read the rest of the article please visit:

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