Monday, November 30, 2009

Mailbag question: Misdirection plays in this offense

Mailbag question: Misdirection plays in this offense


Guys, thanks again for a great site.

Did you notice the complete absence of any misdirection plays in the second half of the season? Watching games on the last weekend I saw lots of reverses, and even reverse passes. Also, we taught kids caught in double teams to: 1. Try and split the double; 2. Spin out of the double, or 3. Make a pile. Time after time I saw linemen caught in doubles pushed back yards or pushed side ways leaving gaping holes.



Thanks for the question and comments.

There is very little misdirection in this offense.

Other than the quarterback read option, Michigan will use the reverse and dart series as sources of misdirection. Michigan does use some throwback out of the wheel series to the running back.

We have watched Coach Tall teach splitting the double and making a pile. But we agree that Michigan did not do a great job against doubles this season.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

GBMW: Michigan Hockey -- College Hockey Showcase -- Wisconsin Recap


Now that’s more like it.

The much-maligned Michigan hockey team finally lived up to its pre-season top five billing and shut down high-powered Wisconsin 3-2 in the CHS finale.

The #15 Badgers, riding on a 7-3 thumping of MSU the previous night, came into Yost expecting to use their size and experience to wear down the Wolverines. Michigan had other ideas, carrying the momentum of a late second period tie-breaking, shorthanded goal, and then added a mid-third period score to hold off the Badgers.

The game started out cautiously for both teams, as Michigan executed a tight checking and patient attack. Wisconsin forced the issue often and early, though, and opened up a 12-5 shot advantage in the first stanza. The closest Wisconsin came to scoring was a harmless shot off the outside of Bryan Hogan’s left post about midway through the period. The Michigan backchecking was excellent and the defense in front of Hogan cleared away any rebounds that resulted.

The game pretty much remained the same until Michigan was finally awarded a power play after sustaining pressure in the Wisconsin offensive zone. Matt Rust lit the lamp from an acute angle at 6:02 to give the Maize and Blue the lead. Carl Hagelin and Steve Kampfer assisted on the goal.

Wisconsin tied the game about four minutes later on what could be described as a bad defensive change from the Michigan bench. Craig Smith accepted a stretch pass from Brendan Smith and beat the changing Michigan defenseman into the zone and went in alone on Hogan. The initial shot was stopped, but Badger Captain Blake Geoffrion followed up the play, gobbled up the effort by Hogan to stick-poke the puck past him, and drilled the rebound into the net to tie the game at 10:08.

Play became a little more physical after that and this resulted in not only an offsetting penalty exchange, but also a power play opportunity for the Badgers. Wisconsin’s defense is very active on the power play and Michigan forced a rare blue line error as the power play ran down. The Wisconsin defense recovered in its own zone, but persistence by the Michigan penalty killer (Luke Glendening) paid off in forcing a bad turn over in front of the Badger net. Jr. Netminder Scott Gudmandson was forced to stop the opportunity.

On the ensuing faceoff, and still at a 4x3 disadvantage, Glendening deftly forced the puck ahead from the draw, stepped to his left to avoid a defender, and buried a high shot over Gudmandson’s glove to give Michigan a 2-1 lead at 18:05. Michigan killed the remaining time on the man advantage and skated off with the narrow lead.

The wide open period ended with Wisconsin holding a 27-22 shot advantage.

The third period opened up with Wisconsin forcing play in an effort to tie the game. Michigan’s counterattack, though, gave the Wolverines more breathing room. David Wohlberg started a beautiful breakout from his own end to a hard charging A.J. Treais. The Michigan freshman entered the Wisconsin zone, was tied up but managed to thread a centering effort to Louie Caporusso, who directed the pass between the skates of Gudmandson for a 3-1 lead with a little over eight minutes to play. Michigan appeared to sit back a little and Wisconsin came back about two and a half minutes later to tighten the game. Michael Davies slid a pass in the high slot that caromed through several skates before stopping in the Michigan goal crease. Derek Stepan backhanded the puck over Hogan to give Wisconsin life.

The last five minutes and change saw numerous Wisconsin opportunities that either just missed, or saw Hogan come up big. Michigan enjoyed a late power play advantage but didn’t do any damage. The Badgers pressed the last minute and Captain Chris Summers was whistled for a cross check with: 17 left. Wisconsin managed to win a face off and got off two good shots, but they were blocked and the puck was cleared to end a very emotional effort.

Red Berenson on his team’s effort:

“Obviously, it’s a step in the right direction,” said coach Red Berenson. “You didn’t want to come off the game last night and then really be on your heels and be embarrassed because we knew Wisconsin would be pretty good from everything we’ve heard.

“They were, and we were up to the task. It was good for our team and it gave us some confidence. Our defense is playing better, our goalie is playing better and our forwards are chipping in and doing what they can to help us as well.”

On Bryan Hogan’s night:

“A few weeks ago, the bounces were going against him,” Berenson said of Hogan. “He was only getting 13 or 14 shots. You don’t want to see him have to make 40 saves in a game, but he had to be a factor this weekend and he was. Last night, in the second period, I thought he was huge and then tonight throughout the game.”

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves:

“It’s another one of those games where I thought we did a lot of really good things, we certainly had our chances. I think Blake’s (Geoffrion) going to have nightmares about a couple that he had. We had our chances to score and we didn’t. We worked our fannies off. Disappointing that we didn’t win, but we can hold our heads high.”

Wisconsin (8-5-1) returns to conference play next week hosting Michigan Tech, while Michigan (7-7-0) travels to play its biggest Big Ten rival, Ohio State, in Columbus.


Berenson held out Sr. Brian Lebler for the second straight game. Fr. Lindsay Sparks was reinserted in the lineup, and Fr. Lee Moffie, Sr. Eric Elmblad, and Fr. Jeff Rohrkemper were scratched.

The Badgers fall to 5-11-1 in the CHS against Michigan, the worst record of any team in the tourney.

Michigan scored two shorthanded goals and posted a 3-12 PP this weekend. The PK was especially impressive, shutting out both Minnesota and Wisconsin (0/11). Michigan only took four odd man penalties against the Badgers. Wisconsin took 6 penalties for 12 minutes as opposed to Michigan taking 5 penalties for 10 minutes.

Wisconsin outshot the Wolverines 41-35.

Hogan stopped 63/65 shots in the CHS. Louie Caporusso and Carl Hagelin led the offense this weekend with 2-1-3, followed by Steve Kampfer with 3A. David Wohlberg chipped in with 2A.

Hats off to Michigan ’s much-maligned defensive core for their play this weekend. Tristin Llewellyn played a very strong game last night, even with a very questionable minor that he was whistled for.

Defenseman Greg Pateryn left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second period. No status is available for next weekend against the Buckeyes.

Michigan will play the Badgers again in February in what should be a dynamite rematch. The game will be held in Camp Randall stadium, home of the football Badgers, in what is being billed as potentially the largest crowd to ever witness an NCAA hockey game.

Yostmeister three star selections:

1. Mich- Bryan Hogan- 39 saves including three or four outstanding saves to keep Michigan in front.

2. Wis- Scott Gudmandson- 32 saves in a losing effort, including two dandy glove saves.

3. Mich- Luke Glendening- a momentum changing SHG (unassisted) and solid defensive play all night.

Thank you for following Michigan Hockey on GBMW.

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Written by Yostmeister

Mailbag question: Time for the current coaches to be held accountable?

Mailbag question: Time for the current coaches to be held accountable?


I really appreciate the in-depth analysis and insight you guys bring.

The issues that alarm me most about this staff are legion.

Number one, blaming recruiting on this product is a cop-out. Lloyd will no doubt get fed up with this at some point if Rich Rod keeps blaming past recruiting.

There is a case study proving Rich Rod is off-base with these claims in the form of Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech suffered as much, or more attrition when Paul Johnson came on board. They started more than ten freshmen last year. But they managed to go 9-3 and to beat their chief rival, Georgia.

This year, they are 10-1. The execution has improved. The discipline has improved. The team is vastly better, despite the personnel losses. The reason is that Paul Johnson is probably the best game day coach in college football. He makes adjustments by series, not by halve, and certainly adjustments are made (unlike what we now endure). He is also an unrivaled judge of talent and a master motivator.

Rich Rod also does not appear to get the root meaning of humility. You get humbled when you think you are better than you are. When you receive that, and decide to make changes, it stops.

To hear you guys say certain assistants are untouchable reinforces the recurring theme of arrogance this staff exudes. The mere fact that they think they can come in and take the program backwards in order to go forward is insane. Who do they think they are? Michigan is bigger than all of them. I don’t think they realize this perception.

Michigan had some of the best position coaches in the game when RR came along. Certainly, if Scott Loeffler is good enough for Florida, he was good enough to contribute here. Certainly, Vance Bedford is as good as D-back coaches get. Ask Woodson, ask Urban Meyer.

This staff simply is not that good (and this statement is an exercise in restraint!). There are several coaches who know how to do more with less. Rich Rod is not one of them. Paul Johnson. Brian Kelly. Jim Harbaugh. All are master motivators and leaders of men. I think any of the three would have been better fits here.


Nelson R.


Thanks for the question and comments.

We also have become tired of the "its all Lloyd Carr's fault" mantra and this crap keeps getting spewed by appointed experts, moderators, and supposed insiders, along with fans who pick up the banner from the previous sources and flame on.

A head coach, and indeed the entire staff, who have been at a school of historical high achievement for two years, must not be discounted as being part of the problem, that is, given a get out of jail card. Since this current staff is now and has been in total charge, the task of building (once thought to be maintaining) back the program falls 100% on those now on board. The current staff has uplifted (blown up) the landscape and produced a very new product, there is no rationale to have the previous staff shoulders any burden. Inserting reality, arguing blame is like debating what Lee should have done at Gettysburg. He lost the battle and that is that. No debate is going to change present reality.

Having said this, we all know the gossip and blame game on the message boards will continue on.

Coach Carr was 100% accountable for his tenure as head coach. He is now gone and let him enjoy his retirement and what he wants to do for the rest of his life out of the public eye.

There are many examples of improvement by teams in year two; Georgia tech is a good one as is Ohio State under Coach Tressel, and Alabama under Coach Saban. Brian Kelly made a heck of an improvement in year one and is doing quite well in year two. Jim Harbaugh took over a 1-11 team and improved the Cardinal in just a couple of years, along with beating USC two out of three times.

It is not unusual for head coaches to have assistants they feel very comfortable with; Coach Bo had guys like Jerry Hanlon and Tyrell Burton. Coach Rod is obviously happy with Coaches Magee and Gibson. He also seems to like having Coaches Tall, Dews, and Smith on staff.

As Coach Rod said in his press conference -- do not have the exact quote, but it went very close to this "I am a big boy and this is a big boys’ business" and fans want wins and that is what I and the other coaches are judged on".

It is past time for the current program to stand on it's own two feet and for all this history interpretation to stop coming up every week. This rehashing and amateur adjudication is of no benefit, including for the current staff.

We at GBMW want to talk football, basketball, hockey, recruiting and any other sport at the University of Michigan and we are tired of all the agenda and gossip that some sites try to stir up to create a buzz and get the followers to read their stuff. Know this, some just did/do not Coach Carr and this is a classic beating of the strawman. If Coach Rod had achieved a record of 11-1, you could bet the final piggy bank that such sources would never mention Coach Carr as being part of the success.

Michigan's record the last two years in the Big Ten is 2-6 in 2008 and 1-7 in 2009. No matter what people say, that is something that should never happen at Michigan and actual football results need to improve drastically next year. It is very disappointing that this team started off the season at 4-0, with wins against Western Michigan (5-7), Eastern Michigan (0-12), Indiana (4-8 overall and 1-7 in Big Ten), tied with in last place in the Big Ten, and then Delaware State. Michigan could not get another win after that game.

Edit Note: Nelson you split the perception arrow right down the middle with your letter. Wherever you are, consider yourself the GBMW archery champion.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mailbag question: Obi Ezeh

Mailbag question: Obi Ezeh



I find it hard to imagine Obi Ezeh playing MIKE next year. Which then begs the question - how do we best utilize his strengths? It seems a lot of people are predicting a move to the quick position. However, how would this impact the growth/development of Craig Roh? In an ideal world, Craig would have red-shirted, and then have shared playing time in 2010. However, we were not granted such a luxury. Do they share playing time at the quick? Who's in on running vs. passing situations? Or does Obi simply replace BG on the line. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Kind regards,



Thanks for the question.

In ideal world 95% of all freshmen would red-shirt.

The reality is with eighty-five scholarships some of the youngsters have to play. And with far less than 85 scholarship players of the 2009 roster, many freshmen played.

We have always thought Ezeh was a better fit at outside linebacker and caught some heat for this viewpoint early on, but lately it seems others are starting to agree. Some were saying Obi was our best returning linebacker from last year’s team and were tentatively using terms like All Big Ten in predicting Obi’s success this year.

In fact when we first saw Ezeh play linebacker, he was being used at strong side linebacker and was very effective.

We could easily see either Ezeh or Roh stepping up and playing B. Graham’s outside linebacker position next season.

This would open the quick position up for the other linebackers. With Leach and Fitzgerald seeing playing time in front of Ezeh at season’s end, it makes sense that Michigan will try to find Ezeh a home that fits his strengths. He does possess much game experience and the Michigan defense needs to use this in a way that benefits the team.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Mailbag question: T. Robinson

Mailbag question: T. Robinson


Great site.

On the year it was great fireworks, at the start 4 -2, then we couldn't light the wick at the end of the year. I'm behind RR 100% he's must pull some magic next year and pull some rabbits out of the hat, like putting Drob#16 all over on O. Good luck recruiting D we need it, fingers crossed some good recruits pick MICH.

What is Terrence Robinson's role, he was supposed to be speedy good I thought? I can't wait for 2010 it is make or break but I'm all in for MICHIGAN.



Thanks for the question.

Agree, Michigan needs plenty of help on the defensive side of the ball and hopefully soon help will arrive very soon.

Yes, we would like to see Denard Robinson used more as well, especially if he is only going to get a couple of snaps a game at quarterback. With a great athlete of this caliber, the staff might as well try him at running back, slot receiver, split end, even in the special team mode, and get one of the team’s best athletes on the field more often.

One thing we would like to see is Denard being used as a decoy as well, since every time he comes into the game the opposing team is keying on him.

T. Robinson has had some injury problems and difficulties learning the slot position. He has shown some skills, he just has not put it all together yet. His size stature has hurt him as well and he still needs to get bigger and stronger. It is too bad Barwis cannot work on player’s heights. Add to the above the fact that T.Rob had trouble catching the ball with his hands during the 2009 Spring Practice Period and the picture becomes clear. Take this a step further and consider that newcomer Kelvin Grady played ahead of T. Robinson.

With several slot receivers coming in, along with Gallon being ready to go, it will be tough for T. Robinson to see significant playing time since he will likely be behind Odoms, Roundtree, Gallon, and possible Grady.

T. Robinson might be one of those players to keep an eye on this off-season.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

GBMW: Michigan Basketball -- Marquette Wrap-up -- Alabama Preview

GBMW: Michigan Basketball -- Marquette Wrap-up -- Alabama Preview

In the last column a warning was sounded that Marquette was playing really well and likely would give Michigan match-up problems on the court. Well, that became the obvious to anyone watching Friday’s game from Orlando.

The same problems that cropped up at the beginning of last year returned in force (or did the problems ever truly leave?). Even with a small team, Marquette out rebounded Michigan in both halves. An under 70 percent performance at the foul line is not remotely close to the potential percentage these guys should make, and have in the past. As of now only six players are getting big numbers in the rotation and both Gibson and Wright must step it up to support the inside game.

Marquette played with a lot of pressure, on and off the ball, and that may have contributed to Michigan’s poor 3-point shooting, Tired legs and a lack of focus could also have contributed. But this group of players should never shoot 15% from behind the arc.

There is still softness in the defense and Michigan still has not fully mastered pressure. At times this team still needs a GPS to find Sims. Amazing the tallest guy on the court gets shut out in the second half by a much smaller team.

There simply must be more to the Michigan offense that shoot a three or drive to the hoop after a fake at the arc.

Coaches never want teams to peak early, but wins in events like this are gold in the selection bank. There is no need to panic but Michigan needs to lay it all on the line tomorrow against Alabama.

And so that brings the discussion to Sunday’s game with Alabama. The Crimson Tide has lost to Cornell and Florida State. Cornell is pretty good and Florida State is really good, good enough to go a long way come March.

Alabama basketball is now under the direction of first- year coach Tony Grant. His style of play is one of those 94 feet of hell games that some teams despise to play against. UM had better come ready to step up the intensity, because that will be Alabama’s game. The pressure on offense comes from fast transition, ala Michigan State, and the pressure on defense comes from everything and everybody.

Alabama, like the rest of the SEC. has been little down lately. But regardless of anything else, Alabama always has a very athletic team. If Bama gets its way on the boards the results can be brutal. Two 6’9 players (Knox and Green) will see the floor for a good part of the game together.

The stats (early on, yes indeed) are about normal for a big time conference team: 45% field goals; 67% foul line, and 35 % from the three-point line. Bama does have one shooter, Brock, who can lite it up like a pinball machine if given open shots from poor rotation or not getting back soon enough. Coach B. is well aware of this, but we will all see how the arc defense plays out.

If history follows, Torrence, Green, and Brock are the biggest threats to Michigan Sunday. This game is winnable by both teams. Hopefully Michigan still has some burning tail-feathers and comes out tomorrow with more intensity, poise, and execution. If UM wants to beat an athletic team like Alabama, the guys are going to have to perform some dirty work and park the clean corporate image for the day. Bama’s intent will be making the game a game of willpower and toughness.

Sounds a little like the Big Ten, eh?

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Written by Doc4blu

Saturday, November 28, 2009

GBMW: Michigan Hockey -- College Hockey Showcase -- Minnesota Recap


Rivalry games have dotted Michigan’s early schedule, and last night was no exception. Unlike their performance this season against Michigan State, the Wolverines attacked Minnesota from the outset, getting some fortuitous breaks, and cruised to a rather easy 6-0 victory at Yost Arena.

Michigan failed to convert early odd man rushes and other opportunities, mostly due to Minnesota’s sloppy play. Minnesota nearly converted midway in the period, as Mike Hoeffel drilled a shot from the high slot past Hogan and directly off of the left goal post. Michigan also hit iron twice, including a glorious point blank effort by Fr. Kevin Lynch. It appeared in the period that Michigan dominated so far on the shot board, would remain scoreless, until David Wohlberg accepted an off wing pass from Louie Caporusso, cut in and lifted a backhander that somehow squeaked over the trapper of Gopher goalie Alex Kangas at 18:47. The soft goal lifted Michigan to the 1-0 lead and the momentum entering the 2nd period.

The Gophers began taking some careless penalties and Michigan responded with a pair of power play markers. Brandon Burlon scored his second goal of the season, smoking a shot from the left faceoff circle that hit a Gopher stick and deflected stick side high over Kangas. About six and half minutes later, Louie Caporusso banked in a crease pass off of a Gopher skate for a 3-0 advantage. Just over two minutes later, Lee Moffie sprung Carl Hagelin for the first of his two breakaway goals, and Michigan sailed into the locker room with a 4-0 advantage.

Hagelin struck for his team leading 7th goal of the season at the 7:00 mark, tracking down a Matt Rust pass (after he made a splendid defensive zone play) and went blocker side on Kangas, shorthanded, to make it a 5-0 runaway for Michigan.

Ben Winnett added the sixth Michigan tally at the 11:28 mark, breaking in from the left wing on a 3x1 and holding the puck until he lifted a wicked short side wrister over Kangas’ glove. From that point, Michigan tried to preserve Hogan’s shutout bid.

Hogan had an outstanding game, stopping all 24 Gopher shots, including several terrific glove saves late in the game. More importantly, he communicated flawlessly with his defense as Michigan played perhaps one of the team’s best defensive games of the season. They limited the turnovers and Hogan prevented any comeback opportunities by not allowing rebounds.

Here is what Red Berenson had to say:

“From my perspective, it wasn’t a 6-0 game. It was a game of chances, and whose chances go in, and who got the bounces. It was one of those games where even though we were getting some chances and getting pucks to the net that were going in, on another nights they wouldn’t have gone in. They (Minnesota) go down and hit the post and we go down and score. It was that kind of game.”

Red added these comments about his team’s defensive zone play:

“We were good in our own zone except they still had a few point blank shots from the slot in that area that’s tough to cover. That’s where he (Hogan) earned his shutout tonight, with three or four point blank shots- bang! He made the save, he’s in position and no rebounds.”

Minnesota coach Don Lucia commented that “we were sluggish and we’re not a good enough team to come out and play sluggish. We had a few chances, hit a few pipes to get ourselves back in it, but Michigan was a better team and deserved to win.”

Minnesota (4-8-1) moves up I-96 to tangle with Michigan State on Saturday, while the Wolverines (6-7-0) await the red hot Wisconsin Badgers, 7-3 victors in East Lansing on Friday night.


Berenson held out Sr. Defenseman Tristin Llewellyn, again, from Friday night’s game. Brian Lebler also sat due to a one game suspension for his second HFB game misconduct in last week’s win against BG. Fr. Lindsay Sparks and Sr. Eric Elmblad also were scratched.

Sr. Anthony Ciraulo and Fr. Jeff Rohrkemper were inserted in the revamped lineup, as well as Jr. Scooter Vaughn, (who was a ball of energy all night).

The Gophers suffered their 4th shutout of the season and Michigan earned its first shutout win of the year, after being blanked twice this season by Alaska and MSU.

The PP actually looked dangerous, converting 2 of 7 on the night, while the PK was superb, stopping the Gophers all seven times they had the man advantage, including a late PP bid to spoil the shutout. Hogan did the splits to snare a particularly dangerous chance during that final PP.

Michigan secured the Renfro/Mariucci Trophy for the 3rd straight season. The trophy honors Michigan legend Al Renfro and Minnesota icon John Mariucci. Michigan now has held the trophy 9 times in the 17 CHS meetings between the teams.

Yostmeister three star selections:

1. Mich- Bryan Hogan- 24 saves and flawless in goal

2. Mich- Carl Hagelin- big time effort, with 2G to lead the offense

3. Mich- Steve Kampfer- anchored a solid defense and added 2 of the defense’s 6 pts on the night.

Thank you for following Michigan Hockey on GBMW.

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Written by Yostmeister

Mailbag question: Mike Williams

Mailbag question: Mike Williams

Just wondering if you guys see Mike Williams as a player who is afraid of taking a hit. We all have played with guys who didn't want anything to do with tackling or getting hit. Coaches would try to get these guys braver by doing drills like, "Bull in the Ring or the Meat Grinder", to show them no matter how many guys hit them they were not going to get hurt.

Game after game I see Williams running right by ball carriers to avoid contact, meekly sticking out an arm, or only tackling at the shoulder pad level. This kid appears to be afraid to put a good hit on anyone below the waist. He is great for piling on once the ball carriers momentum has been slowed down and they are defenseless. If I were his coach this kid would be given a skirt to go help out the cheerleaders. I realize we are short of talent at safety but leaving Williams on the field is a poor example for what is needed to succeed at this level. There has to be someone, Smith or Vlad, who has some courage to play the position.

Keep up the good work,

Terry A. "TheOldQB"


Thanks for the question.

This is just the opposite from our experience with M. Williams. At practices we have attended, Williams is one of the most physical, hard-hitting players on the team.

What we have noticed is that the closer to the line of scrimmage Mike is, the more physical game he plays.

We believe that because of M. William’s lack of overall athletic talent, his ability to play in space is limited.

That is why he appears to not play as physical as he is capable of in our opinion.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

GBMW: Coach's Corner -- Michigan Defense vs. Ohio State Offense

GBMW: Coach's Corner -- Michigan Defense vs. Ohio State Offense

GBMW would first off like to thank Coach Tressel for calling off the dogs and not turning this game into a rout. Ohio State could easily have done this in our opinion. They controlled the game for the most part and played the famous "Tressel-ball".

We are not sure which is more embarrassing, Ohio State feeling pity on us, or Ohio State thrashing us, this choice is too close to call. Ohio State controlled this game once the Buckeyes got up a touchdown, almost like they did two years ago.

Defensive Line:

Major props to Brandon Graham, he is an excellent football player. For him to have the type of season he did with the surrounding talent speaks not only of his talent, but also his character. Overall the defensive line was solid vs. Ohio State.

Martin played what was in our opinion his best game of the year. The lack of depth and the overall athletic ability after the top two is noticeable. Will Campbell made a couple of nice plays, but also was abused.


Stevie Brown played a solid game and we thought Leach was okay when they ran straight at him. After that it got ugly. Michigan continued to make the same pursuit mistakes that have plagued this team since Notre Dame. And until UM has some linebackers that can help underneath in coverage the defense will continue to struggle.

Defensive Backs:

Thank god Pryor is not an accurate passer, yet. Ohio State missed two sure touchdowns with wide receivers behind Michigan's defensive backs. And why UM still has defensive backs having problems getting off of blocks is a mystery.


Solid game plan, crowd the line of scrimmage and make Ohio State pass to beat us. We do wish our cornerbacks would break on the ball better. Watching those short out passes move the chains was very frustrating.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mailbag question: Woolfolk

Mailbag question: Woolfolk


When Woolfolk was moved to safety we were told it was his natural position since he; played it in HS, is a big hitter, and has the speed required to cover lots of ground. The team went 4-1 with Woolfolk at safety and then moved him to corner when Cissoko couldn't play. Since that time we are 0-5 against D1 opponents and consistently get abused by WR, TE and RB’s in the middle of the field. I don't understand why we continue to isolate Woolfolk at corner on our opponent’s 2nd best WR, when he has everything we lack at safety: the natural talent to play the position, experience and speed. Please enlighten me.

Frustrated with the defense and looking for answers!


Ron H. -- "Mguy"


Thanks for the question.

As all regular readers are aware, we are bigger believers of being strong between the hashes/up the middle.

Solid safety play is a key factor in being strong down the middle.

When Boo Boo got in trouble, and JT Floyd went down with an injury, the staff felt it necessary to move Woolfolk in order to get Michigan 's best four defensive backs on the field.

We support that original position. Once JT Floyd got healthy we were expecting to see Woolfolk return to safety, and as you point out, there was no return.

Coaches Gibson and Coach Robinson must feel strongly that leaving Woolfolk at cornerback puts Michigan 's top four defensive backs on the field.

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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine

GBMW: Michigan Hockey -- College Hockey Showcase -- Preview


MICHIGAN (5-7-0, 3-5-0) (tied) 9th in the CCHA
Friday 11/27/09 7:05 p.m. Yost Ice Arena vs. Minnesota (5-7-1)
Saturday 11/28/09 7:35 p.m. Yost Ice Arena vs. Wisconsin (7-4-1)

CHS Facts:

Michigan and MSU play an annual weekend series against the Gophers and Badgers, alternating sites at each other’s arenas. Originally, the series was played at neutral sites in proximity to either a CCHA or WCHA location. Minnesota and Michigan are tied with the best winning percentage in the tourney at .578, with Michigan holding the most wins in the 16 year old series at 18-13-1, while the Gophers are 16-11-5. Minnesota has had the best recent success, sporting a 7-2-3 record in the past six seasons against MSU and Michigan. The Wolverines hold an 8-8 mark against Minnesota including a 2-4 record at Yost. Minnesota also holds the all time record against Michigan at 127-116-15. Michigan had lost six straight games (including NCAA tourney games) to the Gophers before securing the last two games in the CHS, 5-1 in 2008 at Yost, and 6-3 last season in Minneapolis.

The Badgers are 10-20-2 in the CHS, including a 5-10-1 record against Michigan. Wisconsin has rebounded in the past six seasons by skating to an 8-3-1 mark since the 2003 season. Michigan leads the all time series with the Badgers, 63-51-7.

Michigan lost last year’s tilt, 3-0 in Madison, which ended a 2 game CHS winning streak against the Badgers. Michigan is 4-2 against Wisconsin at Yost Arena.

This weekend’s games will feature three of the top winning coaches in the game, as Rick Comely, Red Berenson and Don Lucia have combined for 1,975 victories in their career. Comley ranks third in active coaching wins with 758, followed by Berenson with 678 and Lucia with 539 wins. Each coach has earned two National Championships.

Gopher Gossip:

Minnesota comes into the CHS fresh off of a sweep at the hands of Minnesota-Duluth, extending a losing string to three games. They share the same bug that has bitten Michigan the past few years, with several early departures and season ending injuries to key players.

The Gopher attack is led by Sr. Tony Lucia who has a 4-7-11 total on the season.
Jr. Mike Hoeffel follows with 6-3- 9 and So. Jordon Schroeder has added 3-6-9 to the Gopher offense. The defense is anchored by Jr. Cade Fairchild.
The goaltending is handled by Jr. Alex Kangas who is 4-5 this season with a .922 Sv. % and a 2.49 GAA. Kangas is a streaky goalie that can shut down opponents for long periods, then falter… similar to the goaltending that Michigan has received the past few seasons.

Minnesota has struggled this season on the PP, (8/54-15%) but is 8/29 in their last seven games and has scored PP goals in six of their last seven games. Their PK is equally challenging, 11/61 (82%) for the season, but has improved to 4/39 in the last two weeks.

The Gophers appear to play a wide open style and put up a sizable amount of SOG’s with an average of 28 per game. Similarly, the often get caught defensively and give up an average of 31 SOG per game.

Minnesota is also having penalty issues, averaging 7.4 penalties per game, good for 16 minutes.

Minnesota leads the NCAA in average attendance, with Wisconsin, North Dakota and Michigan trailing in that order.

Badger Bullets:

The Badgers come into Yost arena after a road split with St. Cloud State last weekend and are expected to be one of the challengers for the WCHA title.
Wisconsin is stocked with an experienced lineup featuring six seniors that figure prominently in their attack. Tri-captain Blake Geoffrion (Nashville draft choice) has a 7-3-10 line for the year. Tri-captain Ben Street has chipped in with 4-3-7, and Mike Davies has tallied 2-4-6 on the season. Ben Grotting, Adam Bendrickson and John Mitchell round out the experience up front.

The blueline is also stocked with veteran leadership, starting with Jr. Ryan McDonagh (Montreal) who has added 1-7-8 to the scoresheet, and Jr. Brandon Smith (Detroit) who is 3-10-13 to lead the attack from the back. Wisconsin boasts the second best scoring defense in the country.

Goaltending duties have been split between two Jr. players- Scott Gudmandson ranks 4th nationally with a 3-1-1 record and totes a 1.58 GAA and a .929 Sv.%. Brett Bennett also sees time between the pipes and is 4-3 on the year, with a 2.01 GAA, a .905 Sv% and one shutout on the year.

Special teams have also helped the Badgers to a good start. Wisconsin ranks 3rd in the nation in penalty killing at 91.5% (54/59). Wisconsin has outscored their opponents 43-24 this season and have posted a whopping 35-8 advantage in their seven wins. They typically outshoot their opponents, averaging a 39-22 shot advantage. The Badgers enjoyed marquee wins over UNH in Madison earlier this season, and opened the season with a tie and a loss at top ten ranked Colorado College.

Wolverine Notes:

Michigan’s woes continue to mount as they split last weekend with Bowling Green. The Wolverines dropped their fourth straight game at Yost, worst effort since the period from November, 1988 through January, 1989. They have been outscored at Yost now, 17-9 by their opponents.

Michigan is averaging just 2.67 goals per game which ranks them 32nd in the country, a significant drop from being a top five offense the last five seasons.

Carl Hagelin has been the Wolverine’s most consistent offensive threat, notching at least one point the last six weekends and is tied for second on the team in scoring with five goals and nine points. Freshman Chris Brown leads the team in scoring with six goals and four assists, including the final marker in last week’s 4-1 victory.

Michigan’s PP continues to suffer, clicking at a 14.1% rate for the season, converting 9/64 chances, 44th in the country.

Conversely, the team is allowing an average of 2.5 goals per game, tied for 18th in the country and holds the 6th best PK at 89.6%.

The Maize and Blue are a glaring 0-5 against ranked teams this season and 0-8 in the past two seasons.

Bryan Hogan has the distinction of being 1-4 with a 3.43 GAA with a .860 Sv. % at Yost this season.

Michigan will also visit Madison later this season in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic, the second outdoor venue that Michigan will have played in.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

Robbie Czarnik decided to part ways with the Wolverines right after Saturday’s win against BG. Robbie apparently was not happy since joining the Wolverines and decided to jump to the Plymouth Whalers who obtains his rights from Oshawa. Not real good news considering he finally was starting to find his offense, something Michigan sorely needs and considering the lack of depth Michigan has up front. We wish him well, but it’s likely that walking out on the team in the middle of the season is not going to impart very much goodwill to his character, and that is ugly in a circle that is very tight.

It’ll be tough to find any good, unless one of the other lesser regarded Wolverines steps up and contributes. It may also open the door for a 2011 recruit to jump into Michigan sooner (in 2010) if ready.

Keys to the match ups:

1. Stay out of the penalty box. I made this the top priority this weekend, considering how awful the offense has been. Minnesota has seemingly found their powerplay and Wisconsin’s is deadly.

2. Minnesota is a team mirrored in Michigan’s image: big on the wings, fast and talented- albeit a bit thinner than most years. They move the puck well, but also turn it over. Capitalize on their mistakes and limit the turnovers in front of Hogan, and it may lead to more offensive chances. This one may be a comedy of errors, or a really good up and down game to watch.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, is big and experienced- maybe not as quick but definitely more patient and less prone to beating themselves. They will force errors, be physical and score when given the opportunity. Take what they give you and play solid defense. A 1-0 or 2-1 game is fine as long as Michigan is winning. Put Wisconsin in that position and they may as well put the sleeper hold on.

3. Get back the Yost advantage. By this I mean, get the crowd into the game and keep them there. Don’t fall in to the mental lapses that have cost them games against MSU, Miami and BG. Unfortunately, these games typically are void of our students, so it is not the most intimidating atmosphere.
4. Bryan Hogan needs to realize that the team needs his best play, especially in big rivalry games. The reins are his, and probably next season also now that Jack Campbell has reneged. It’s time he plays like the goaltender he was recruited to be.


Friday -- Michigan 4 Minnesota 3
Saturday -- Wisconsin 3 Michigan 1

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
If you have any questions please E-Mail

Written by Yostmeister

GBMW: Michigan Basketball -- Creighton Wrap-up


That question concerns the cosmetics of the UM Creighton game. The outcome was a win and most coaches will trade beauty for wins.

Creighton played hard, very hard. The Bluejays played like a well-prepared team, and indeed they were. The intensity and scrappiness put Michigan in the corner of the ring and the knees got a little wobbly, but a second wind saved the day. Another item saved the day, two key injuries to hard playing Creighton players, Carter and Young.

Tournaments like this can cause weird effects. The guys are away from home on a holiday, there are no warm-up patsies, and the pressure of one loss and the tournament championship is over creeps in. Sometimes the officials act like they were out later than the players. Always, something does not go to plan and teams must turn to mental toughness and focus as much as physical talent. Coaches see who can get the job done in a somewhat simulated pressure cooker as the toll mounts over the three games. Some teams fall flat and some teams get stronger as the tournament advances.

Enter Michigan, ranked number 15 and Creighton unranked. Rankings at this time of the year are for talk show discussion and hold little relevance. The truth is, anymore in college basketball, number 15 and number 55 have little difference. What counts more is who prepares the best, who plays the best, and the all-important match-ups on the floor, the games within the game.

Michigan came out executing well on offense, after which the team went a little soft on defense. Creighton wanted the ball more in the rebounding war. After UM lost the lead early in the second half, it took Manny Harris and a tough nosed Sims to right the ship. And Novak’s three pointers were critical as well.

Some old bugaboos reoccurred. First, the guards must have again thought that Sims was a decoration on the floor and not an offensive weapon. This team is trained to take threes and here is a group of guys who dearly love their training. Strategic three pointers turned into a mid-game group of poorly selected shots. As noted in yesterday’s preview, Creighton would almost certainly press to harass UM’s offense. The strategy worked as UM’s offense went from watch-charm to haphazard. The purpose of a pressing defense against a good team is more to alter an opponent’s rhythm than to just make a bevy of steals. The UM offense definitely became out of kilter and shots came often and quickly.

The defensive rebounding was just adequate, guys need to get to a spot and just get the ball, and there has never been much sophistication to rebounding.

The defensive rotation was late or broke down several times. When a team plays a trap defense and the other team makes one or two good passes for a lay-up, the strategy becomes non-contributing. Several times Creighton players were trapped on the wing and passes to cutters running cuts down the lane resulted in easy baskets, too easy. One or two times, the trap was on top and a pivot player made a flash cut to the middle of the three second lane getting easy buckets. Several Creighton players enjoyed wide-open shots as a result of slow rotation.

Down the stretch some of the Creighton shots were well off and Manny played a big part in putting the game away.

Michigan has itself to blame for the game going into overtime, committing two cardinal errors. Foul shots are like bunts in baseball, they must be successful or consequences may result. Today the Wolverines were not a good foul shooting team. This group has enough shooters that 80% should be the target, not 60%. Letting a guard take a ball the entire length of the court one on five for a lay up is pretty much a major no-no.

In any win there are bright spots. Novak played well and tough as usual, Manny showed he can control a game, and Sims just decided to get the ball on his own if no one wanted to give it to him. Even though there were soft moments, the team did not pack it in and came back strong in the last three minutes albeit with injury help to key Creighton players.

Things can change quickly in tournaments like this; worldbeaters to whimps and vica versa. But likely the Wolverines will have to play much better tomorrow to be in the game. Marquette whipped a good Xavier team today. This team is quick, pressures the ball very well, and will mix it up. Unfortunately Marquette is also good at dribble drive penetration. I was hoping for a Xavier win, since the opinion here is that Marquette is a tougher matchup for Michigan. Marquette played hard, but their legs should still be fresher than UM’s. Last year Michigan had trouble on the backside of back-to-back type games.

Let us hope for sunny and mild versus cold and wet in the game tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
If you have any questions please E-Mail

Written by Doc4blu

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cullen Christian: 2010 Michigan Commit -- Cornerback

Cullen Christian

Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180 lbs.
High School: Penn Hills (Pennsylvania)
High School Coach: Ronald Graham
Position: Cornerback
Recruiter: Coach Tony Gibson
Class: 2010 Recruiting Class (Verbal Commit)

Cullen Christian- UM’s Newest Commitment

Below is a short sketch of Cullen Christian from Penn Hills, Pennsylvania.

Overview: Here is a solid overall athlete, who combines good size (6-1, 180 pounds) with solid movement skills. Cullen can help UM at either safety or cornerback and also on special teams. He has played some wide receiver in high school, but in our opinion his future is clearly on the defensive side. Here is a guy who expects to get to the next level.

Strengths: Cullen uses his long arms and size to jam and reroute wide receivers effectively. He moves his feet well and shows a smooth and easy back-pedal. Cullen also shows solid explosion and good jumping skills (listed on sites and combine results as 35 inches in the vertical jump). Cullen plays a good physical game and is not shy about hitting. He has excellent hips for his height and does a solid job at jumping routes.

Needs Work: Cullen definitely needs to improve his overall strength and he also could use some additional weight. His transitions need some work and so does his ability to come out of breaks (seems to lay on the backside). He is not a burner and speedier split ends might cause him some problems. Cullen is somewhat new to the role of lock-down, press cover corner, but many state his potential as excellent. This is not track, but his 40 times are hard to find and have a large range. Cullen appears to be a football player, like Roy Roundtree and Vinnie Smith.

Cullen reminds us of former Michigan cornerback Jeremy LeSuer.

Cullen has been a long-time fan of Michigan football and has expressed admiration for Charles Woodson (good idea). It is nice to get fine student athletes out of Western Pennsylvania.

Will Cullen be the first of three or four high profile defensive standouts who will commit to UM before signing day?

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
If you have any questions please E-Mail

Written by CoachBt, Doc4blu, and ErocWolverine

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