Sunday, October 30, 2005

Weekend Thoughts

1) Michigan's defense comes up strong with 33-17 victory over Northwestern. The Wildcats brought their high powered offense into this matchup and Michigan's D thumped 'em good. Basanez threw twice as many INTs in this game as he had all year and Leon Hall had a 83 year fumble return for a TD. Solid showing once again for this previously much maligned group. I'd say they've atoned nicely for the horrible performance at the end of last season.

2) Michigan hockey gets the split in Fairbanks. They took their first loss, but that was to be expected with such a young team playing their first road game of the year well over 1000 miles away from home. Noah Ruden was in net to get the shutout victory in the Saturday game as they bounced back 4-0.

3) The Red Wings just keep on rolling. 11-1 start to the season and Ozzie got the W in his first start on Saturday. I believe they have 3 straight home games coming up this week so look for the hot start to continue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Random coaching carousel guesses

The winds of change are blowing across the Big Ten coaching community. Here's what we know: Barry Alvarez is out and Bret Bielema is in at Wisconsin. Here are some other guesses...

1) Lloyd Carr will announce at the end of this year that he will retire after next year. He's always talked about walking away when it isn't fun anymore. And as much as he's having with these last second victories, you know the losses have been adding up.

2) Joe Paterno retires after this season. The dude is damn near 80 and this is going to be his last chance to go out a winner. Either that or he coaches until he's dead, or hell perhaps even a season or two from beyond the grave. Would anyone in State College even notice the difference?

3) Joe Tiller is G-O-N-E. His act has been wearing thin the last few years in West LaFayette, but taking a team from preseason national title contender to pushing Illinois for 11th place in the conference will end his tenure as a Boilermaker. Resign, fired, whatever. He's done.

4) John L Smith is on the hot seat if MSU's season finishes in the tank. He was supposed to be the guy that got the job done at Louisville and would bring MSU back to challenging Michigan and the Big Ten. Instead, his team looks exactly like something Bobby Williams could have done. And it's pretty hard to look bad when following up Bobby Williams.

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 8

Looks like the conference race is finally starting to take shape. And it's shaping up like a 1990-ish clusterfuck when 4 teams shared the crown at 6-2.

1) Penn State (7-1, 4-1): hammered Illinois this week, but is that saying much? Their offense is still unproven against quality competition.

2) Ohio State (5-2, 3-1): easy W over Indiana, but see the comments above. Troy Smith and the offense are starting to come around which is bad news for the rest of the conference.

3) Wisconsin (7-1, 4-1): solid W over Purdue aided by some key turnovers, but then again Purdue sucks and it wasn't the big victory you would have hoped for as a Wisconsin fan against a pitiful Boilermaker squad

4) Northwestern (5-2, 3-1): they just hammered the Spartans in East Lansing. Good victory, but MSU tends to quit when they are down so I'm not as impressed as the score would indicate.

5) Michigan (5-3, 3-2): nailbiter win at Kinnick to snap the Hawkeyes 22 game home winning streak despite playing without their best player on offense (Hart) and defense (Woodley) amongst others. This week they get to go to Evanston and settle the battle for 4th place in the Big Ten.

6) Minnesota (5-2, 2-2): which Gopher team will show up? The one that finally beat Michigan or the one that found a way to hand the game to Wisconsin? If history is our guide, the latter is much more likely than the former.

7) Iowa (5-3, 3-2): found a way to lose at home to an undermanned Michigan squad. Drew Tate and Albert Young are quite the duo, but their team is lacking something this year.

8) Michigan State (4-3, 1-3): that giant thud you heard was all the hopes and dreams of MSU fans crashing back down to earth yet again this year. Question: Is John L Smith still considered a good coach? This is his 3rd year in EL and he hasn't done much better than Bobby Williams.

9) Indiana (4-3, 1-3): unlike the next team on the list, the Hoosiers still have a prayer at bowl eligibility

10) Purdue (2-5, 0-4): Oh how the mighty have fallen. About 3 months ago you couldn't go past a magazine rack in America without seeing predictions about how Purdue was a darkhorse candidate for the Rose Bowl. Whoops.

11) Illinois (2-5, 0-4): The only reason Purdue isn't last is because Illinois is god awful.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Your handy, dandy, basic Michigan basketball preview

I was really excited for last year's basketball season until injuries rained down like hell fire on the Wolverine team. This year? Unlikely we'll get screwed over in consecutive years, so I'm ready for some basketball! But what can we realistically expect out of Michigan this year? Well, making the NCAA is a pretty safe bet. And considering how long we've been on the outside on selection Sunday, that is saying something.

First, let's start with some individual predictions. One note: individual ppg and team ppg don't necessarily add up because players will miss some games. For example, Petway is out for the OOC season. I also expect your basic bumps and bruises, but I'm not counting on any injuries that knock players out for weeks or more.

Starting PG, Daniel Horton (SR): He's the unquestioned emotional leader of the team. When he's on, Michigan can knock off anybody. Unfortunately he has had a lot of off games. He needs to get a little more efficient on offense this year because there is plenty of talent around him.
32 mpg, 10.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.5 to/g, 40.5% fgs, 37.0% 3s, 80% fts

Starting SG, Dion Harris (JR): Maybe the most talented player on the team got asked to be the primary scorer and primary ballhandler last year while surrounded by a bunch of walkons. Well, the Big Ten can play some D and that was a tough assignment. This year he has Horton to handle the rock and Lester Abram to draw the D, so look for him to really explode.
32 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.0 to/g, 44.0% fgs, 35% 3s, 78% fts

Starting SF, Lester Abram (RS-JR): Easily Michigan's best player. If Horton is the vocal leader, Lester Abram is the heart and soul of the team. A tenacious competitor on both ends of the floor, he brings it night after night.
32 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 to/g, 48% fgs, 42% 3s, 87% fts

Starting PF, Graham Brown (SR): He's a banger, but he's limited in what he can do offensively. When he's on, he gets garbage points and does a good job setting up everybody else with screens. When he's not, he's a TO machine. When Petway returns to action, his minutes will go down.
20 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.5 to/g, 55% fgs, 70% fts

Starting C, Courtney Sims (JR): One of the most talented post players in the conference, but he's inconsistent. He's got good size, soft hands, and an excellent touch around the rim. Too often he struggles to get position in the post, though. Also doesn't recognize the double team quick enough and will force shots. Has continued to improve at Michigan, and if he keeps that up he will quickly be a force in the league.
28 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 1.0 apg, 2.0 to/g, 62% fgs, 72% fts

Sixth man, Brent Petway (JR): Air Georgia is one of the most exciting players in the nation. He racks up highlight reel dunks and blocks and isn't afraid to draw the charge. Unfortunately, he's been rapping a bit too much and not studying enough so this flight is grounded until after the semester ends. But when he returns, look out. Instant energy off the bench, he can change a game in a hurry.
22 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 to/g, 65% fgs, 65% fts

Backup, Chris Hunter (SR): He's long and he's lanky, but he's got good shooting touch and is an excellent scoring threat at PF. Too weak on the glass at times, though, to be a consistent force.
18 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 apg, 2.0 to/g, 50% fgs, 36% 3s, 80% fts

Backup, Jevohn Shepherd (FR): 6'5" explosive athlete from Toronto is really going to add depth to the Michigan backcourt this year. Has a rep for being a good defender with a developing offensive game. He could thrive in the open court with guys like Horton and Harris pushing the ball.
10 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 to/g, 52% fgs, 32% 3s, 78% fts

Backup, Jarrett Smith (FR): He's got good size and can really pass the ball. Not a very good shooter, but he knows how to use his size on defense. While not a major threat yet, he is a major upgrade over our backup PG situation last year.
8 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 to/g, 41% fgs, 30% 3s, 74% fts

Backup, Ron Coleman (Soph): He was 2nd on the team in minutes played last year because of injuries. I hope he enjoyed that PT, because there is a ton more talent around now and he won't be seeing the floor nearly as much. If he wants to play, he has to showcase his phenomenal shooting touch and improve his defense/rebounding. That's really the only way he will earn PT on this deep and athletic squad.
6 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 44% fgs, 38% 3s, 84% fts

Backup, Kendric Price (FR): long and lanky, but he has some offensive punch. Might get a little bit of PT in the OOC games with Petway out, but he'll be seeing a lot of the bench come Big Ten play.
4 mpg, 1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 44% fgs, 70% fts

Now how about a little game by game prediction?

(H) Central Michigan - W
(A) Boston University - W
(H) Butler - W
(H) Miami, FL - W
(A) Notre Dame - W
(H) Delaware St - W
(A) South Florida - W
(H) UCLA - L
(H) Miami, OH - W
(H) Coppin St - W
(H) Chicago St - W
(A) Indiana - L
(H) Purdue - W
(A) Illinois - W
(H) Northwestern - W
(A) Minnesota - L
(H) Michigan St - W
(H) Wisconsin - W
(A) Penn St - W
(A) Iowa - L
(H) Ohio St - W
(A) Purdue - W
(H) Minnesota - W
(A) Michigan St - L
(H) Illinois - L
(A) Ohio State -L
(H) Indiana -W

That's 20-7 (10-6 conference record) heading into the Big Ten tournament. Figure a split in the BTT for a 21-8 record heading into the NCAA tournament. Should be good for around a 5-7 seed depending on how strong the Big Ten is.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Check, check, DAMNIT

1) Michigan beat Iowa in overtime despite playing without Mike Hart and without LaMarr Woodley who were both out with injuries. And it's not like the rest of the team is exactly healthy. But we did get to see a little of Jake Long back. That kid is an amazing talent and if he can keep getting healthier it could really help down the stretch. Not sure how we won, but we did. Kudos to the defense for really stepping up after Iowa had 2 beautiful TD drives early in the game.

2) The Red Wings smoked the Blue Jackets 6-0 tonight and Jason Williams had the first period hat trick to lead the way. 2nd shutout of the year for Legace. Did you know that Detroit is now 8-1 on the season with 36 goals scored and only 17 allowed. Not a bad ratio. The only team in the league with a ratio anywhere near Detroit is Ottawa who is 6-0 with 25 goals scored and only 11 allowed. But that's in 3 fewer games so I'm not quite as impressed. Nashville is somehow 7-0 with 25 goals scored and 16 allowed. Can you say lucky to have 6 one goal victories including 2 in OT.

3) Last but not least is the 3-3 tie at Yost between Michigan and Michigan State. For once, MSU really took the play to us but our goalie snuck out a tie. I'm really getting sick of tying these guys as 4 straight games have gone to OT and 3 have ended in ties. Plus any time we don't get a W at Yost, it hurts. You can read some good recaps of the game here and here.

Oh well, 2.5 outta 3 ain't bad.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hockey goodness

The Wings (7-1) and the Wolverines (4-0, unanimous #1 in the polls) are off to red hot starts to their respective seasons and both will be challenging for the title this year.

Detroit - it's ironic that this is the first NHL season with a salary cap in place and Detroit is still looking like one of the best teams in the league. But then again their main advantage in talent the past decade has had more to do with having an excellent GM in Ken Holland and not so much in having a big payroll (see the NY Rangers for example). But why are they still so damn good this year? That's not hard to explain. In net, they've got Manny Legace. He is consistently one of the better goalies in the league. Never spectacular, but always steady. He will keep them in every game. Then look at their group of blueliners that is still one of the finest in the NHL with guys like Nick Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider and Jiri Fischer and Chris Chelios and Jason Wooley. Up front they don't have the most talent in the league, but they've got a lot. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are both dynamic playmakers. Robert Lang and Brendan Shanahan can rack up points. And guys like Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby can still get it done. Throw in a phenomenal FA signing like Mikael Samuelsson (6 goals in 8 games) and their lineup is deadly. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Mike Babcock was a great find as coach. I love Dave Lewis, but his players-best-friend schtick from the Scotty Bowman days just didn't put enough fear in the players to get the most out of them.

Michigan - what can I say, all Red does is reload every year. We lost Montoya and Nystrom and Tambellini and Gajic and on and on and on... But what does it all mean? Just that we bring in guys like Jack Johnson, Andrew Cogliano, and Billy Sauer. Johnson is a flat out stud. I don't care what anybody says, but that kid might be first team All American this year as a true freshman. He's that good and he can dominate play on both ends of the ice. I don't even know who the hell to compare him to. Perhaps Rob Blake in his prime. But anyways, the win over Boston College was nice. But we really don't deserve the #1 ranking right now. Then again, neither does anybody else. The important thing is coming out flying tonight against the Spartans at Yost. It will be a very tough game. Hopefully the home ice advantage can carry us to victory.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hawkeye Hoops' Michigan preview is up

He does a nice job of summing up the Wolverines, but he is WAY too pessimistic on his overall predictions of being a .500 conference team. He notes that the difference between this team and 2 years ago is no Bernard Robinson, Jr. and a couple freshmen added to the team. Well yeah, that and the fact that everybody else on the roster is 2 years older and hopefully better than they were in 2003/4 season. People will be very surprised at what the return of Lester Abram means to this team. He's easily one of the best players in the conference and is getting no love on preseason all conference teams. Don't worry, though, he'll be first or second team at the end of the year.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 7

What the hell should I do now? The current topsy turvy Big Ten continues to see teams at the top lose. You thought Michigan was good? Nope. Iowa the team to beat? Ha ha. Ohio State? Can't stand success. Michigan State? laughable. Wisconsin? Only until they play Northwestern. Minnesota beats Michigan but still comes screeching back to earth.

1) Wisconsin - luckiest team this side of the Rockies for their great escape in Minnesota. But what the hey, they've only got 1 conference loss and already have wins over Michigan and Minnesota.

2) Penn State - got bounced in Ann Arbor (again), but at least made it a hell of a game. I think they could win the rest of their games.

3) Ohio State - extremely lucky that MSU spartaned themselves once again last week because they didn't look very good.

4) Iowa - is this 2004 deja vu all over again? We'll see how they do with the up and down Wolverines coming to town.

5) Minnesota - woulda, coulda, shoulda still doesn't count as a win. A fluke loss is still a loss. Etc.

6) Michigan - are they capable of winning consecutive games? Maybe, maybe not.

7) Northwestern - Nice Ws over Wisconsin and Purdue.

8) Michigan State - every year they watch their season implode and this is shaping up like a typical Spartan season.

9) Purdue - yep, they suck.

10) Indiana - theoretically they could still make a bowl game.

11) Illinois - baaaaaaaad

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Michigan hockey with a big win over Boston College

#7 ranked Michigan knocked off the #4 Boston College Eagles 3-2 Friday night in Ann Arbor in a huge nonconference matchup. Not only is this game huge for the confidence of the team, but it can only help come NCAA time with the pairwise rankings.

Here's a link to a great write-up of the game on the Wolverine.

Billy Sauer is off to an excellent start replacing Al Montoya. And as good as I think Noah Ruden is, I can't argue with the success Sauer is having and the experience he is gaining.

Keys to victory against Penn State

This is going to be a very difficult game for Michigan to win and I'm not sure what to expect. Will they be pissed off and coming out flying and put the hurt on a sky high Penn State squad? Or will they fold and get steamrolled by a great defense and a big play offense? Here's what the Wolverines need to do to get the victory:

1) Mike Hart needs a big day. I'm talking 5+ yds/carry and 125+ yards. If he can consistently move the chains it will really help Henne out.

2) OL has to get the job done in run and pass blocking. RT cannot be a revolving door today or Tamba Hali will eat Chad Henne for dinner.

3) DBs can't get beat deep. Gotta force PSU to go on long drives for scores giving them more opportunities to turn the ball over.

4) Win the special teams battle. Steve Breaston and Garret Rivas need big days.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A decade of pain

Why is it so difficult being a Michigan fan? Everybody knows the wins we've had under Lloyd Carr. The Big Ten titles, the national title, etc. But why does it seem that we lose so many painful games that we shouldn't?

Let's take a little trip down memory lane and add up the Michigan losses under Lloyd Carr by point differential. This isn't an exercise in blame, merely an attempt to categorize. And I'd like to compare our losses to some peer schools like Ohio State, Florida State, Miami, Florida, Tennessee, and maybe a few others.

From 1995-present:

Total Michigan losses: 32
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 14
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 9
Losses by 17 or more: 2

Total Ohio State losses: 30
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 4
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 13
Losses by 17 or more: 5

Total Florida State losses: 23
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 5
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 7
Losses by 17 or more: 5

Total Miami losses: 27
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 3
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 10
Losses by 17 or more: 9

Total Florida losses: 31
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 10
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 7
Losses by 17 or more: 11

Total Tennessee losses: 27
Losses by 3 or fewer points: 2
Losses by 8 or fewer points: 8
Losses by 17 or more: 8

Do I even need to go on? It's painfully obvious how many devastating losses Michigan has had in relation to other football powerhouses of the last decade. It's also obvious how infrequently Michigan gets blown out of the water.

Just amongst these teams:

  • Losses by one field goal or less: Michigan ranks #1 with 14
  • Losses by 1 TD (+2 points) or less: Michigan ranks #1 with 23
  • Blowout losses by 17 or more: Michigan ranks dead last with only 2
  • Total losses in 10+ years by more than 1 score: Michigan ranks dead last with only 9

So it's not just the collective imagination of Michigan fans. We really do lose more close painful games than other teams. It doesn't just seem that every time we lose it is gut wrenching, it really is. Look at our last 4 losses: 1 point to Texas, 7 to Notre Dame, 3 to Wisconsin, 3 to Minnesota. The 16 point loss to Ohio State doesn't even bother me because we got beat. Everybody knew it. But the close ones? Those are the ones where 1 play and 1 call and 1 inch mean the difference between winning and losing. And we have lost way more than our fair share. That's why ESPN classic is always showing us losing. Because we have lost a ton of classic games. Other teams like Tennessee or Miami at least have the decency to get blown out when they lose so their fans can leave early and get something accomplished with the day. We get stuck hanging on to the very last second to watch Kordell Stewart's miracle (i know that was 1994 and not included in this study) or MSU's timekeeper gate or Minnesota's field goal last week.


Don't know why, but I hadn't linked Straight Bangin' yet. He's always got some good thoughts and he sent me my Gmail invite, so here's to some good reading on Michigan and other stuff.

Also, Hawkeye Hoops has a Big Ten preview rolling out. Based on his excellent use of statistics and his always knowledgeable posts it should be a great read. Don't forget that Big Ten Wonk is soon to return to action. Loved reading his thoughts last year as Illinois marched through the Big Ten.

As for Michigan? Who the hell knows what to think. 50% chance that they once again rebound from a devastating loss with a beatdown of Penn State at home leaving everybody scratching their heads as to how they lost to Minny the week before. 50% chance their season goes up in smoke. I'm concentrating on watching the Red Wings and Michigan hockey and counting down until college basketball season gets under way.

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 6

1) Penn State - so far, they've earned it. I think their position a top the conference standings says a lot more about how weak the Big Ten is than how strong the Lions are. Will they beat Michigan for the first time in a decade this week? Well, Minnesota certainly didn't have any problems snapping a long losing streak to the Wolverines last week.
2) Michigan State - if the loss to Michigan was a fluke, they are clearly one of the best teams in the conference
3) Minnesota - gotta give credit where it's due
4) Iowa - they had a nice road win in West LaFayette and their team might be coming together just like last year
5) Ohio State - yep, still a one dimensional team
6) Wisconsin - good offense, not so good defense
7) Michigan - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. How much longer until basketball season? (thank god we'll actually be good this year)
8) Purdue - not so good
9) Northwestern - just enough offense to scare a few teams this year
10) Indiana - they might win another game or two
11) Illinois - better luck next year

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Some quick postgame thoughts

  • I was a lot smarter 2 weeks ago than I was last week. Wisconsin really isn't that good and Michigan really is that bad. Mike Hart's back? So what, still found a way to let Minnesota win the game.
  • Chad Henne was back to not being good after torching MSU last week. His receivers didn't bail him out much, but he miss fired on way too many passes.
  • The D was decent up until the long run that set up the field goal. Can't blame them for the loss, though, when the O gets shutout in the 2nd half.
  • Garrett Rivas is not inspiring any confidence. He was fantastic last year, but he blew 2 second half kicks today after blowing the chip shot in the end of regulation in East Lansing last week. Just not good.
  • Michigan is staring a 6-5 regular season straight in the face and I'm not sure what bowl we will go to. Why? Because we've played on New Year's Day for like 10 damn years in a row. What bowl is it that crappy teams go to? Perhaps we should ask Minnesota before the get out of town with the Jug.
  • Oh well, might as well get all the crappiness out of our system this year. Perhaps there will be a change of the guard at the top and we can get a fresh start next year. Lloyd is a good guy and he'll always be a hero for bringing a national title back to Michigan, but sometimes things need a shakeup.

The Battle for the Little Brown Jug

I love the Jug. It's the original trophy in college football and it has a ton of history behind it. Sure, Michigan hasn't lost to Minnesota since 1986 but the game still has a rivalry flair to it primarily because of the Jug. And the last 2 times we've met? Oh man, you know the Gophers are still stewing over blowing those 4th quarter leads (including the 28-7 lead at the dome 2 years ago).

Today's game should be a good one. Don't be fooled by the Gophers blowout loss in Happy Valley last week. Penn State had the Minnesota game circled all year. Minny had humiliated them on numerous occasions and Penn State caught them at just the right time. They've still got Laurence Maroney who is probably the most talented back in the country. They've also got a very good OL and some weapons at WR. Their QB (Cupito) isn't the most accurate passer around, but he's got good touch on the deep routes and is capable of burning a D when they creep up to play the run. Minnesota's D is a little tougher this year with a new DC, but they still lack a little in the talent department.

I look for this to be a close game in the 2nd half with Michigan's offense eventually having too much firepower for the Gophers. Mario Manningham is really coming on strong as a #2 threat across from Jason Avant. With Steve Breaston likely back in action in the slot, watch out as our passing game is really starting to come together. Throw in Mike Hart cranking out another 150+ and Michigan should score 34+ points this week.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The Packers are now 0-4 on the season and alone in the basement of the worst division imaginable in the NFL. Allow me to begin the countdown to the end of Brett Favre's career. 13 weeks from now he'll play Seattle on January 1st in Lambeau Field and then call it a career. Let me also start the countdown to the #1 pick in the NFL draft at about 6 and a half months. If they do get the #1, I'd expect them to deal it to whoever wants Matt Leinart the most. They've already got cash invested in Aaron Rodgers. Since Ahman Green will likely be gone after this year as well, it'd be nice to snag somebody like Reggie Bush.

Monday, October 03, 2005

M-azing Michigan Mike Hart

If you watched the MSU game, all you can say is damn. That kid is unbelieavable. Tom Lemming thought he was too small to be a TB in college? Yeah, great observation Lemmster. All the kid does is gain yards. He has to have some of the strongest legs I have ever seen. He's listed at 5'9", but that's stretching it. And I've seen it take 3-4 tacklers to get him down some times.

Want some numbers? He has now played 12 career full games (if you discount his total of 11 carries against Miami last year and Notre Dame last year and this year). In those 12 games...

337 carries, 1785 yards, 11 rushing TDs, 5.3 yards/carry
30 catches, 285 yards, 2 receiving TDs, 9.5 yards/catch

He's racked up 4 games of 200 or more yards rushing, another 2 games of 150+, and another 2 games of 100+. Only 4 times has he failed to crack the 100 yard barrier: 99 against Iowa, 79 against Indiana, 61 against Ohio State, and 83 against Texas.

The kid is averaging 172.5 yards from scrimmage in his first full 12 games of his career. Not to shabby, huh?

Let's look at the careers of some great backs from Michigan's recent past:

Chris Perry - 3696 career rushing yards, 39 rushing TDs. He cracked the 200 yard barrier twice in his career, both as a senior (MSU and CMU). He also topped 150 three times in his career. Six other games over 100 yards.

Anthony Thomas - 4645 career rushing yards, 55 rushing TDs. He cracked the 200 yard barrier once as a senior (Illinois). He topped 150 on eight occasions. He had another 12 100 yard performances.

Tim Biakabutuka - 2911 career rushing yards, 24 TDs. He cracked the 300 yard barrier with one historic performance against Ohio State. He had one other 200 yard game. He topped 150 twice. He had another 8 games over 100 yards.

Tyrone Wheatley - 4178 career rushing yards, 48 TDs. He cracked the 200 yard barrier twice. He topped 150 another 5 times. He also had 11 games over 100 yards.

Let's look at the stats of these great backs this way: Name - career games played (with at least 8 carries), total games over 200, total games over 150, total games over 100

Mike Hart - 12 games, 4 over 200, 6 over 150, 8 over 100
Chris Perry - 38 games, 2 over 200, 5 over 150, 11 over 100
Anthony Thomas - 44 games, 1 over 200, 9 over 150, 21 over 100
Tim Biakabutuka - 21 games, 2 over 200, 4 over 150, 12 over 100
Tyrone Wheatley - 35 games, 2 over 200, 7 over 150, 18 over 100

By the numbers, Mike Hart is the most dominating back Michigan has had in some time, if not ever. The kid just pounds out huge yardage totals game after game. I don't think I can adequately describe his greatness. Let's just hope he stays healthy and stays for his junior and senior year. If he does, Anthony Thomas can kiss his yardage record goodbye, perhaps by the end of next year.

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 5

Apparently Minnesota and Michigan State aren't as good as I was willing to give them credit for (like we haven't heard that before).

1) Ohio State (3-1, 1-0): they had the week off, but still the best in the conference

2) Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0): I don't think they are top 10 material, but then again neither is anybody else in the conference right now.
3) Michigan (3-2, 1-1): Oh what a difference Mike Hart makes. The kid has played a grand total of 12 full games in his young career (after riding pine the first 2 games in '04 and missing most/all of the ND/EMU/Wis games this year) and now has 4 200+ yard performances. More on him to follow...
4) Penn State (5-0, 2-0): they whupped on Minnesota. Not sure if that means much, though. They still have zero passing game.
5) Iowa (3-2, 1-1): Illinois stinks
6) Michigan State (4-1, 1-1): based on past years, they are about to tank
7) Minnesota (4-1, 1-1): now they get to play in Ann Arbor against a team they haven't beaten in 2 decades.
8) Purdue (2-2, 0-1): apparently all the people picking them for the Rose Bowl sheerly based on their schedule should stop making predictions

9) Indiana (3-1, 0-1): not totally pathetic this year
10) Northwestern (2-2, 0-1): still dangerous enough on offense to put a scare into a few teams
11) Illinois (2-3, 0-2): The Zooker has his work cut out for him with this program

I dare anybody to rank teams 2-8. You could pretty much toss them in a hat.

So long Tram, still one of my favorites of all time

You'll always be a Detroit Tiger and one of the best shortstops in MLB history. But sometimes, a change has to be made. Unfortunately, you are that change right now in Detroit.

The Detroit News has a nice rundown of possible candidates. I think Jim Leyland is the obvious frontrunner for a couple reasons.

1) He and Dombrowski go back a ways and have a good relationship from their time in Florida.
2) He's a former Tiger minor leaguer (and former Tiger minor league manager) and he grew up just down I-75 outside of Toledo.
3) He's got a lot of respect around the league as one of the best around. He's also got that shiny WS ring as a manager to prove to the players he know's what he's talking about.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Quick game thoughts

1) Mike Hart is just that damn good. When he's on the field it makes the entire team play that much better. All of the plays that make people shake their heads when he's not on the field (draw on 3rd and 5) instantly become a big play threat when he gets loose in the open field. He makes something out of nothing and he makes big 40+ yard runs when he gets good blocking.

2) I'm glad that we don't have to sit here wondering what could've and should've been after that horrible call on Henne's fumble. Here are the facts: his arm was going forward when he got hit and the ball went forward after he lost it. Unless 2+2=5, it was not a fumble.

3) Chad Henne suddenly looks a lot better when Hart is in there playing well.