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Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm not exactly sure what those bemoaning the demise of the Michigan program based on the mediocre results of this years draft -- Avant and Watson in the fourth, Massaquoi in the seventh -- expected this weekend. Perhaps Watson could have gone higher, but NFL teams seem to have wised up about lazy guys with tons of potential. Avant was never going to go very high because he's slow. Massaquoi getting drafted is a better result than most expected.

But the OMG Buckeyes had OMG everyone drafted and therefore the world's ending. Again, what did the panickers expect would happen when nine starters from OSU's admittedly badass defense were draft eligible? The draft merely provides a platform for those who bitch constantly to bitch with some data backing them up, as if "7-5" isn't a much more relevant data point. Also, there's this data point from last year: 2, as in the number of Ohio State players featured in the 2005 NFL draft. One of those players: kicker Mike Nugent. The other: Maurice Clarett.

This space strives to be reasonably balanced about all things largely because relentless neg- or pos-itivity is almost always irrational and therefore infuriating; I find this desire places me in the 95th percentile of Michigan (Internet) fans on the Pollyanna scale. I find this extraordinarily annoying. The facts of the matter are this:

  • Michigan had an epically bad season last year that still featured seven wins.
  • This was the worst season in 21 years.
  • Getting there took an epic rash of injuries and late game misfortune not likely to repeat.
  • No one good left the team other than Avant, Stenavich, and Watson.
  • Jim Herrmann is gone.
  • Mike Hart is healthy.
  • Lloyd Carr still coaches like he's got Charles Woodson and Glen Steele on his defense.
  • The offensive line is no more stable than JoePa's grip on reality.
All of these things except the last two argue that 2005 was a momentary speedbump and not the start of a Penn State-like collapse. Carr's coaching style is not optimized for winning, but realistically it will come into play in only a few games and cost us one. Making your in-depth analysis of the Michigan team based entirely on Carr being the worst coach in D-I football is a juvenile attempt to prevent Mr. Cranky's feelings from getting hurt when the football team doesn't win by six touchdowns and spell out "Mr. Cranky Is Our Bestest Friend" at halftime. It's not that bad.

What is concerning: three Michigan offensive linemen graduated and none were drafted. A near-crippled Leo Henige can't be expected to continue his football career, but Matt Lentz and Adam Stenavich started for three years and were not found worthy by the NFL. Stenavich measured in at 6'4" and was never exactly a punishing run blocker, making a transitition to guard unlikely, but he was still a good performer over a long span of time and got not even a seventh-round sniff. Lentz moves like a wounded duck and was a turnstile for most of the year, so his fate is no surprise, but it says a lot about how far the once-mighty offensive line has fallen when the starting guards are Henige and Lentz. One can only hope that their backups make massive strides in the offseason, because they couldn't have been very good and stay on the bench.

This is the space designated for complaining about S&C, but I don't know anything about it so I won't bother. What I do know: Michigan's offensive line is by far the biggest question mark on the team going into 2006. Bo is spinning in his grave. Yes, he clambered down into it specifically to spin at the offensive line, then popped back out for lunch.