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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Academic carnage has been wrought at MSU. Freshman CB Kendall Davis is a non-qualifier (NO PUEDO LEER, MADRE) and will have to sit this year out. JUCO DT David Stanton is similarly out of commission--wags took the opportunity to report that "Stanton" was out for the year. Both losses are significant. State's DL is very thin and Stanton was definitely the third DT. And, of course, anything resembling a cornerback is being desperately hoarded by JLS so he doesn't have to suit up and get out there himself. Don't believe me? Listen to the always-quotable JLS:

"I don't really want to get into it because then I'll really start to cry or will swear, one or the other."
If MSU wins this year it'll be a shootout.

In unacademic carnage news, Antwan Allen got a one-game suspension for a previously-mentioned assault charge. Iowa should still be able to manage Ball State.

If I could pick one preseason hype article that would turn out to be absolutely true, this one on Henne is the winner. No, wait, that NYT article predicting a national championship is the winner. Other than that one. Because if something like this is true...
"He's not in the same world that he was a year ago," coach Lloyd Carr said Monday. "Just getting the signals ... we had some issues in early games, particularly where we didn't get into the right play, the right formation, the right check, all because of his youth. can chalk up something close to the NYT prediction. Other Michigan news from yesterday's press conference (transcript here):
  • (from the News:) There is no time-frame for Long's return, although Carr remains positive. "I think he'll be back," he said, "but I'm not going to go any further."
  • The depth chart at OL is surprising. Ruben Riley is not listed as a starter inside. He's the primary LT backup and listed at RT with Mike Kolodziej and the "OR" designation. Henige is listed as the starter at LG and it's Bihl OR Kraus at center. I don't buy that whole mess for a second. Looks like pure motivational tactics to me.
  • Starting safeties are listed as Engelmon and Barringer. Mundy got bumped down because he's missed some practice with a shoulder issue. That's probably temporary. I adore what I hear re: Engelmon--it's all "he's smart and heady and reads his keys and is in the right place in the right time"--but still can't shake the impression that moving Brandon Harrison to safety bodes ominously.
More Michigan preview action can be found various places. The Washington Post pegs Michigan #2 and rehashes the freshmen and the defense and the tackling of the quarterback or lack thereof and there you go put a button on that and spin it for the cow-raising. The OZone's Tom Orr checks in with separate previews for offense and defense. And accuses Hart of "disappearing" against OSU and Texas to end the season:
Hart's yardage by game grew pretty consistently throughout the year (20 yards, 17, 121, 99, 79, 160, 234, 206, 224, 151) before he vanished against Ohio State and Texas (61 and 83 yards, respectively).
and then levels an accusation of incompetence against the offensive line that's nonsensical:
There are certain things that Michigan's offensive line does very well. They pull, they trap and they screen with the best in the nation. But when this team needed to line up and just ram the ball at people last year, they couldn't do it. Third-and-2 turned into 4th-and-2 with disturbing regularity last fall. When they played a team with a good front seven on defense (like, say, Ohio State) they got their butts kicked.

You can talk all you want about security dogs, home field advantage and freshmen playing on the road, but Michigan lost in Columbus last fall because they got destroyed in the trenches. Michael Hart had nowhere to run, Chad Henne got knocked down time after time and simply did not have time to throw on many plays.

Bizarre, since Hart went for 99 against Iowa's fabulous front seven and broke 200 against Purdue's equally stout D. Michigan lost in Columbus because it yielded two huge, time consuming 90+ yard scoring drives and a Ginn punt return touchdown. Hart was kept under control early, but by the time Michigan got the ball back on offense later he was a nonfactor because of the score. I don't particularly remember Henne getting pounded, either. One sack by Donte Whitner, a strong safety, to 54 pass attempts doesn't exactly scream heavy pass rush generated by the line.

The defensive preview sticks to stuff like "they'll have Gabe Watson clog the middle" which is tough to dispute, but it slags Garrett Rivas pretty heavily, noting that he actually missed some field goals last year and therefore "every Michigan fan holds their breath when he trots on," which is just strange. I mean, dude was around for Brabbs/Neinberg/Finley, right? That was a severe breath-holding situation, that situation there. The Rivas, not so much.

Orr seems reasonably balanced--sort of the Buckeye side of the mgoblog would-dearly-like-to-be-reasonable-but-just-can't-make-it thing--but I mean, if he thinks this:
Is this a Big Ten championship-caliber offense? Probably. But only if the line gels, Breaston stays healthy and Hart lives up to his performances in the middle of the season, rather than his end-of-season struggles.
Then, uh, what does that say for Ohio State? Is Ohio State's offense a Motor City Bowl offense? Probably.

The Buckeyes are setting themselves up for a mighty fall. Expectations are ratcheting way out of control in Columbus. First the Herbstreit/Corso double kiss of death. Plus there's the Ozone's season preview, which has the Buckeyes going 11-0. has three separate predictions that all say 11-1 including the bowl game. People are apparently saying things like "the offensive poetry of Smith, Ginn, and Holmes" with a straight face. Totally mystifying to me, as I've discussed before. Maize and Blue glasses, perhaps, but 98th in offense, man! 98th! And that's no one-year blip. Tressel never had even an average offense at OSU. This is a contender? Maybe with a lights out defense, but they were severely vulnerable to the pass last year and look like they will be again. It's not totally out of the question OSU to have a really good year, but 7-5 appears closer than 12-0. Not that either of those events is likely.