Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Show me what you've got

Michigan has a tremendous record in its season openers (104-18-3) and has won seven in a row. Traditionally, but not always, Michigan opens at home against a decent but overmatched opponent. This year's opponent, the Vanderbilt Commodores, fits the bill perfectly. Michigan is usually able to use the season opener as a tune-up game as it works the bugs out before they hit the major roadblocks of Notre Dame and the Big 10 schedule. Michigan coaches will likely rotate in a lot of players into this game if the Wolverines build up any kind of lead. They do this for multiple reasons. First, it allows the coaches to evaluate certain positions under game conditions. It is one thing to see how players perform in practice but it is entirely another how they perform during a game in front of 110,000 fans. The coaches have not made final decisions on who will start for the remainder of the season at each position and it is possible for a player to play himself into (or out of) a job. Secondly, the coaches want to reward players who work hard in practice with seeing the field. Sometimes the first game or two are the only games all season that some guys have the opportunity to see action (e.g., Dan Moore and Marques Walton in 2005). Lastly, the coaches will rotate a lot of players into the game because the coaches do not want a starter to get hurt (especially in a blowout) and miss the rest of the season.

Michigan historically will not "show" much during its season opener. In fact, I think the offense will be pretty conservative until week 3 when the Wolverines play Notre Dame. Coach Carr and Offensive Coordinator DeBord are going to work out of basic offensive sets for the first two games so as to not reveal anything to the Irish coaches who will be studying game film. Besides, Michigan wants to re-establish its running game. Therefore, I think you will see a lot of pounding the line this Saturday. No matter how much DeBord calls for runs however, he probably will not be able to match what Bo did in his Vanderbilt match-up. In 1969, in Bo's first game as Michigan's Head Coach, the Wolverines ran for 367 yards against the Commodores in running to a 42-14 victory. Sophmore tailback Glenn Doughty led the way for the Wolverines that day rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown on only 15 carries. Quarterback Don Moorhead added 103 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries making Bo's debut a successful one.

As the Wolverines need to get back-up QB's Jason Forcier and David Cone some snaps as neither player has ever played a down for Michigan, I believe Henne should come out of the game after the first series of the 4th quarter if the Wolverines have a 3 touchdown lead. That will give an opportunity for both Forcier and Cone to take the field at least once each if not more during the fourth quarter so they can begin to get acclimated to running the offense at the Big House. They do not even have to pass the ball. They can just keep handing it off to the back-up tailback. They just each need to get some snaps under center under their respective belts.

As much as people want to see if DeBord will install a "new look" offense, I do not think you will see much of it on display in week #1 for the reasons listed above. Nevertheless, I am anxious to get the season started despite the fact Michigan will not be showing their whole hand until later in the season. Go Blue!

Shuffling the right side of the line

On Monday, August 28, 2006, Coach Carr made the following somewhat surprising announcement at his weekly press conference. He stated that, "Mike Kolodziej's season is over. Early in the camp we had a problem, and so I think in his best interest Mike is not going to play this fall. I would hesitate to say it, but I think I can say it's been ongoing. That's where we are." The reason I say the announcement was somewhat surprising was because Kolodziej himself was quoted a day earlier in the August 27, 2006, edition of the Detroit Free Press as saying, ""They were just checking up, everything's good," he said. "It wasn't much of a situation. I'm good to go." Apparently, Coach Carr and Kolodziej were not on the same page. Unfortunately for Kolodziej, Coach Carr's opinion always carries the day. With Kolodziej out of the picture at Right Tackle the offensive line had to be re-shuffled once again. It appears that the versatile 5th-year/Senior Rueben Riley will slide over to the Right Tackle spot and highly regarded Jr./So. Alex Mitchell will get his first career start when he moves into the starting role at Right Guard. Mitchell appeared in 5 games last year and played on the left side of the line in four of those games. The one game he played on the right side last year was as a reserve at Right Guard in the Indiana game.

The left side of the offensive line has been set since early in Spring Practice and now with the right side set (for now) the line looks like this from left-to-right: LT Jake Long; LG Adam Kraus; C Mark Bihl; RG Alex Mitchell; RT Rueben Riley. Go Blue!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Eyes in the Sky

An interesting tidbit in the Michigan Game Notes for the Vanderbilt game is a list of the coaches who will be up "in the booth" during the game as opposed to those who will be on the field. New offensive coordinator Mike DeBord will be calling the offense from up in the booth but new defensive coordinator Ron English, not suprisingly, will be down on the sideline with the players. Assisting DeBord in the booth in calling the offensive sets will be Quarterbacks Coach Scot Loeffler. The two defensive coaches who will serve as the eyes in the sky for Def. Coordinator English are first-year coaches Steve Szabo (linebackers) and Ron Lee (cornerbacks/punt team). As indicated, I am not surprised that English wants to be on the sideline with his players motivating them between series as that seems to be a big part of his coaching style. I can't imagine him couped up in a small booth separated from his players while the game was being played now that he is the defensive coordinator. English spent his first three seasons (when he was the secondary coach and Jim Herrmann was defensive coordinator) up in the booth. DeBord, on the other hand, apparently does not mind being up in the booth although I can't recall where he positioned himself when he was coordinator previously from 1997-1999. Go Blue!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Impact of true freshmen

As the 2006 season is set to begin, a new group of freshmen are getting ready to make their first trip down the Michigan Stadium tunnel on a football saturday with 110,000+ Wolverine faithful cheering them on. One of the freshmen the fans are eagerly anticipating watching this season is running back Carlos Brown (#23, pictured at right). Brown was an early enrolee at U of M (he has been on campus since January) and he dazzled the fans with his speed at the Spring Practice. Despite his immense talent and the fact that he got extra practice in by enrolling early, I still do not anticipate Brown to play a major role this season. Michigan is loaded at the running back position (see prior post of 6-13-06) and true freshmen historically have not played a major role unless there is a gap on the roster to fill.

In 2003 the freshmen class consisted of 17 players, six of whom saw the field as true freshmen. Of those, LaMarr Woodley and kicker Garrett Rivas had the biggest impact. In 2004, 8 true freshmen of a class of 22 players saw playing time. This class featured, of course, starting QB Chad Henne and starting RB Mike Hart. Hart was a first team All-Big 10 performer and Henne was an Honorable mention selection. This kind of impact by freshmen was almost unheard of in Michigan football history. Last season, six members saw playing time out of the 21 member first-year class. Kevin Grady (an early enrolee) and Mario Manningham were the stars of this freshmen class.

Many people believe that Carlos Brown should redshirt in 2006 as the Wolverines are deep at running back this season and then Michigan would be able to utilize his immense skills for the full four years. I certainly understand the logic but there is a practical side to consider. Carlos graduated early from high school so that he could enroll early at U of M and be more prepared for this season. He wants to play immediately and he is putting in the work and making the sacrifices to make that happen. Coach Carr never promises a recruit a starting job or even playing time but I think he does tell them he will give them a fair shot to earn their way onto the field if they work hard enough. Although from a selfish perspective fans would like to see Coach Carr just redshirt Brown this season (some say even against Brown's wishes) I think that would have a negative impact on recruiting. Michigan is in the midst of a highly successful recruiting campaign and the last thing the Wolverines want is other coaches telling blue chippers that Coach Carr redshirts freshman without regard to their feelings on the matter. Michigan traditionally is able to redshirt approximately 2/3rds of its freshman class and as for the 1/3rd of the players who will play this season (including Brown) I just hope that Coach Carr gets them as much time on the field as he possibly can so the players can use it as a building block for future seasons. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Carlos Brown taken by John T. Greilick/ The Detroit News at Michigan's Media Day


Thursday, August 24, 2006

T-shirts Galore

Back in the day, fans wore a basic Michigan T-shirt and that was it. Now with the advent of CafePress and the like there is a proliferation of crazy variations of Michigan t-shirts. The only limit is a person's imagination and that is not much of a limitation from what I've witnessed. Check out the t-shirts designed by the Dean of the M Blogosphere, Brian over at MGoBlog. He promotes the candidacy of punter Zoltan Mesko for Heisman as well as for Space Emperor. Then there are the boys over at the MZone who got into the act by creating these t-shirts . I have to say I am very tempted to buy the t-shirt that reads "DOWN IN FRONT IS NOT A CHEER". Then there is the t-shirt created by Big D, the webmaster of M Against the World, who is the world's biggest LaMarr Woodley fan. He created a t-shirt that reads on the front "Guns Don't Kill People LaMarr Woodley Kills People" and then on the back has the 2006 "hit list" of opposing quarterbacks. If none of those suit your fancy, you can always create your own t-shirt. Looks like there will be some interesting t-shirt reading at the Big House this Fall. Go Blue!

It's a "key" play

Apparently the guys over at the MZone hate the "key" play tradition at Michigan Stadium. "Yost" authored a post where he beseeches everyone in attendance to put away the keys and to make some noise! The MZone boys asked that all in the Michigan blogosphere link to this post as they feel REALLY strongly about this topic. Considering that I read their very well done stuff on a daily basis I thought complying with their request was the least I could do for them. The MZone boys even made t-shirts to promote their anti-key play stance. Personally, I kind of like the key play tradition although I don't usually bother to participate simply because it is a hassle to dig out my keys when I'm packed into my row like a sardine. Nevertheless, I respect the passion and spirit that inspire the MZone boys to make the argument against the key play tradition. Read Yost's post and decide for yourself whether you will continue to jangle those keys on defensive 3rd down plays. Go Blue!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fan Day is Sat., 8-26-06 (try and maintain your dignity)

Coach Carr had mercy on the media this year and did not let the throngs of autograph mad fans attend Media Day as he has many times in the past always to the chagrin of the professional media. To quench the desire of the hordes of Michigan faithful who MUST have an autograph, Coach Carr is bringing back Fan Day. Fan Day is Saturday, August 26, 2006, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Coaches and players will be available for autographs although each coach and player will only sign one autograph per person. As there is only a limited time frame people will have to choose wisely which autographs they want to try and obtain because 90 minutes will not be enough time to obtain them all.

Funniest line of all-time came from Nick at Stadium and Main who wrote:" Michigan's Fan Day is scheduled for Saturday the 26th. Middle-aged dudes asking for autographs for their kids, when they don’t have kids… that ain’t right. That just ain’t right." You said it Nick. I could not agree more. That is why I think I will once again skip (stalker)Fan Day. It is just too painful to watch. If you go fans, please try and maintain your dignity. Please. Go Blue!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vacation is over and the season is almost upon us

I have returned from my vacation from the Raleigh-Durham area (and yes, I did visit both Duke's and North Carolina's football stadiums but there is not much to see) and the Michigan football season is almost right on top of us. I did not announce my absence prior to leaving because it was my intention to continue blogging while I was on the trip but things did not work out that way. Nevertheless, I am back and ready to go. A couple of tidbits from my trip. First, Duke season ticket packages were being advertised on tv for $84. That's right. Eighty-four dollars for the entire season. I guess the Blue Devils really are a basketball school. Secondly, I learned that the 1942 Rose Bowl game was played at Duke's stadium rather than in Pasadena, CA because of WWII. I did not know that.

As for Michigan news while I was traveling, it appears that the AP pre-season poll was released and the Wolverines were ranked #14 while they were ranked #10 in the Sports Illustrated College Football Preview Issue. Also, LaMarr Woodley (Sr./Sr.) and Jake Long (Sr./Jr.) have been elected by their teammates to serve as the 2006 team captains. Rumors abound that Michigan has suffered some injuries in camp on the offensive line to Mike Kolodziej and Justin Boren. No confirmation yet from the coaching staff re: the injuries and do not hold your breath waiting for any either. Eleven days and counting until kickoff. Go Blue!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In Memoriam: Cecil Pryor, DE, 1968-1969

Cecil Pryor, one of the mainstays of the defense of Bo's first team in 1969, passed away 11 months ago on September 13, 2005. He played Defensive End and started all 11 games during the 1969 season. One thing I'll always remember about Cecil is the story that his teammate Jim Brandstatter recounted in the book he authored, "Tales from Michigan Stadium." Brandstatter recounted that as Michigan prepared for the 1970 Rose Bowl that the NBC television network came to campus to tape the player introductions. Back then the starters were taped at their home campus and they would stand in front of the camera and state their name, year in school, hometown, and major area of study. When it was Cecil's turn in front of the camera, Brandstatter recounted that Cecil looked directly into the camera and with a serious look said, "Cecil Pryor, defensive end, Corpus Christi, Texas, senior, majoring in nuclear physics." The thing is Cecil was not a nuclear physics major nor had he ever been to the physics building during his four years in Ann Arbor. The team did not find out about the joke that Cecil had pulled until they had returned from Pasadena after the game had been played. After graduation, Cecil went on to co-own a Ford dealership in southeast Michigan. One of his three daughters followed him athletically as a Wolverine as she was an outside hitter on the Michigan volleyball team in 1997 and 1998. Cecil's memorial service was held at the U of M Golf Course in October, 2005. He was 58 years old at the time of his death. Go Blue.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coach Moeller: Unassuming former star player

One of the interesting comments in Fantasy Camper Jon Chait's recent article was that of all the coaches he met at the camp that Coach Andy Moeller may have been the least awe-inspiring. Chait wrote that his brother even referred to Coach Moeller as the Coach most likely to be mistaken for a camper. I found that comment particularly funny in light of the fact that Coach Moeller is one of only three coaches (Erik Campbell and Scot Loeffler being the others) on the current Wolverines staff who actually played for Michigan. In fact, Moeller was Co-Captain of the team that went to the 1987 Rose Bowl game. Moeller was a star linebacker for Bo and amassed 326 career tackles which ranks him #12 on the all-time list for the Wolverines. Moeller intercepted 3 passes in a game in 1986 (vs. Wisconsin on 10-4-86) which is a feat no Wolverine has been able to surpass or duplicate in the 19 succeeding seasons. Thus, it is ironic that Chait's brother would dub Moeller the coach most likely to be mistaken for a camper when in fact Moeller was the biggest college star of anyone on the staff. Moeller is in his 7th season coaching for the Wolverines. He is the Offensive Line coach which is a switch from his playing days on the defensive side of the ball. Oh, and yes, he is the son of former Head Coach Gary Moeller. Go Blue!

Chad Henne should wear his red practice jersey 24/7 until 9/2/06

Michigan started its Fall Football Practice Schedule this week in preparation for its first game which will be played three weeks from today on Saturday, September 2, 2006 vs. Vanderbilt. So far, so good as there are no new injuries to report out of the first week of fall camp. During practices the quarterbacks wear red jerseys which signify to the other players not to have physical contact with them during any drills. The quarterbacks wear the red jerseys granting them this special exemption because the coaches do not want to run the risk of having a virtually irreplaceable skill position player suffer a season-ending injury in a freak accident during a practice drill. In light of the depth, or more accurately the lack thereof, at the quarterback position this year I believe that starting QB Chad Henne should have to wear his red practice jersey at all times until kickoff for the first game on September 2nd. I do not want anyone on campus accidentally bumping into Chad or dropping something on his foot or having any physical contact with him. It is imperative that Chad remain healthy for this season as the back-ups do NOT appear ready to take the reigns on a moments notice. Chad has started 24 consecutive games for the Wolverines (tied for 7th longest active streak in the NCAA) but even he is not immune to injury. If Chad were to suffer an injury then Coach Carr would be forced to look to the #2 man. The question to be answered during fall practice is will the guy designated #2 be ready?

The early favorite to be #2 on the depth chart was redshirt freshman Jason Forcier. However, after a shaky spring practice, Coach Carr announced that he would wait until true freshman David Cone arrived and then things would be re-evaluated. (See my post of May 29, 2006- 2006 Back-up QB's: Long on Talent, Short on Experience). Well Cone arrived in the summer to start working out with his new teammates and to start picking up the Michigan offense according to a recent news item written by Angelique S. Chengelis (a/k/a "The Angel of the Big House") of the Detroit News. I'm guessing that Cone's summer performance did not overwhelm Coach Carr because on Big Ten Media Day on August 2, 2006, Coach Carr said that he expected Jason Forcier to be Chad Henne's back-up. Thus, Coach Carr did not even wait to observe fall practices to sort out who would be #2 on the depth chart.

People need to remember how Chad Henne got his start. Heading into the 2004 season, it appeared as if Redshirt sophmore Matt Gutierrez was going to be the starter until he got injured in pre-season practice and then all of a sudden then true freshman Chad Henne was elevated to the starting spot. Henne was able to step into that starting role in 2004 and lead Michigan to the Rose Bowl. From all reports that I've read so far both Forcier (redshirt Fr.) and Cone (true Fr.) are still learning the offense. If Henne were to go down it seems doubtful that either back-up QB is ready to duplicate Henne's freshman feat of leading Michigan to the Big Ten title. Therefore, it is imperative that Chad try to avoid injury by wearing his red practice jersey at all times until the season starts. Go Blue!

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fantasy Camper Debriefed

The First Annual U of M Men's Fantasy Football Experience was conducted on August 3-4, 2006, and it gave the 100 or so fantasy campers a chance to experience from the inside what it's like to be a Wolverine. Fantasy camper Jon Chait was debriefed (as in he provided information about his experience not debriefed as in getting pantsed by Coach English during bed check) and has an article that was posted by the Dean of the M Blogosphere and WSOP hero: Brian of MGoBlog. Chait's article is a great read for multiple reasons. First, it is very well written and it provides an insider's view of what transpired at the fantasy camp. If you are debating whether it is worth it to plunk down the $2,500 entry fee for next year's camp then this article is a must read. It gives you all the scoop about the process the campers went through during the two-day camp. The second, and more important, reason that Chait's article is a great read is that it provides valuable insight into each of the Coach's tendencies and personalities. Chait's observations appear to be quite keen and thoughtful. If nothing else, they sure are entertaining.

Chait's observations about Coach Carr's philosphy regarding protecting the ball and the lead were particularly interesting. Coach Carr, and this is not surprising, appears to preach a strict adherence to the philosphy of conservative run play-calling late in the game when the team has a small lead. This is not surprising because we have all seen this philosphy put in action many times over the years. However, the success rate of this philosphy is open for debate. For some outstanding analysis refer to Vijay's July 8, 2006 post at his site iBlog for Cookies where he looks at 4th quarter meltdowns.

Chait also spends a lot of time discussing new defensive coordinator Ron English who Chait makes sound like quite a dynamo. Chait came away from the camp very impressed and the article left me intrigued about how English's defense may fare this year.

Chait is to be commended for this outstanding piece and I also appreciate the fact that Brian at MGoBlog posted it. Go Blue!


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Alan Branch will be having Sack lunches on Saturday afternoons this fall

Yesterday, at Media Day, Alan Branch was quoted as saying the following: "Our goal is to be the top sack team in the Big Ten. Myself, I want us to have the most sacks in the nation, but that's a hard thing to do in the Big Ten. It's a reasonable goal to be the top sack team in the Big Ten."

New Defensive Coordinator Ron English spoke to the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder at Media Day and was quoted in the article as saying, "We want to play hard, we want to play fast, and when you play fast, you're going to play great defense," he said. "If we get them to do that, we'll have it licked."

With these quotes it sounds Coach English will be employing a more attacking style of defense than was used during the Coach Herrmann regime. In 2005, the Wolverines' defense registered 24 sacks for a loss of 187 yards. The 24 sacks was only the sixth best total in the Big 10 and earned Michigan a ranking of #64 in the entire NCAA in the sack total category. This was actually a slight improvement over 2004 when the Michigan defense registered 21 sacks for a loss of 146 yards and finished ranked #8 in the Big 10 in the sack total category.

Last year, Branch (5 sacks) and team sack leader LaMarr Woodley (7 sacks) combined to account for exactly one-half of the Wolverines' sack total. Thus, if the 2006 team is going to achieve the goal of becoming the top sack team in the Big 10 then both Branch and Woodley will have to shoulder much of the load to make that happen. I expect that both of these phenomenally talented players will have break-out years this season with Branch making All-Big 10 and Woodley making All-American. Whether they can lead the Wolverines' defense to the Big 10 sack title though remains to be seen. Go Blue!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Being a Michigan Man is about more than wins and losses

In stark contrast to many high profile programs across the nation (e.g., Miami, Tennessee and Oklahoma) Michigan is heading into its fall practices at full strength with nary a scandal in sight. This is often taken for granted by the Michigan faithful. While other programs are as likely to lose a star player to a scandal as they are to a season-ending injury, Michigan's fans biggest worry seems to be that Lloyd Carr has two "L's" in his name. The biggest news (thankfully) about the Michigan football team this off-season came about when the players raised over $160,000 during the 3rd Annual Carr Wash 4 Kids to benefit the U of M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital. Coach Carr takes great pride in instilling a sense of duty and purpose into his young charges. He was quoted in the Detroit News the day after the car wash as saying: "Our players take a great deal from going to the hospital, going to that car wash and understanding that there's going to be a physical result of their efforts -- some day they're going to have children," Carr said. "A lot of" former players "are involved in charities. It starts in some cases here at Michigan, being exposed and being at some of these things. It's about using the blessings you've been given to help somebody else."

Michigan has a winning tradition. It is one of the things that makes Michigan, MICHIGAN. However, I am always suspect of the demanding fans who "find another 9-3 season totally unacceptable as Michigan should be in serious contention for a National Championship on a regular basis." Uh, ok. These "fans" (and I'm going to make a gross overgeneralization here) tend to live vicariously through the success of the Wolverines. They need Michigan to be the best so that they, as the #1 fan, are validated. A 7-5 season by a group of solid citizens does this group of fans no good. These "fans" need the Wolverines to attain perfection so that they can bask in the glow of that success. When the Wolverines do not meet their lofty expectations then these fans are left to their own merits which often resemble something akin to a 7-5 team more so than a National Championship squad.

I want to win and so does Coach Carr. It is the Michigan way. However, I do not have a win-at-all-costs mentality. As a Michigan Man, it is more important to me that we protect the integrity of the University by doing things the right way even if that means that Big 10 titles and Rose Bowl trips are the school's focus more so than the BCS Championship game. While other major programs are scrambling as fall practices start because of various scandals, Michigan is humming and preparing for what I believe will be a very successful season. Now somebody kick this soapbox out from under me so I'll stop ranting about this. Go Blue!

Media Day Highlights

The 2006 team picture was taken during today's Media Day festivities. Coach Carr answered (sort of) a bunch of questions. Several of the players including LaMarr Woodley, Steve Breaston, Jake Long, Alan Branch and Mike Hart also fielded queries from the press corps. As always, the shutterbugs from Wolverine Photo were on hand to snap pictures to capture it all for posterity. Click here for the photo gallery. Practice starts tomorrow. Go Blue!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Openers: Home and Road

Michigan enjoys great success at the Big House in playing home openers as it has not lost an initial home game since 1998. However, it has not enjoyed the same success in road openers each season. In fact the Wolverines are 1-7 in road openers during the same time frame (and 0-6 during the past six seasons). The dismal road opener record was achieved as follows:

  • 1998: at Notre Dame 20-36
  • 1999: at Syracuse 18-13
  • 2000: at UCLA 20-23
  • 2001: at Washington 18-23
  • 2002: at Notre Dame 23-25
  • 2003: at Oregon 27-31
  • 2004: at Notre Dame 20-28
  • 2005: at Wisconsin 20-23

Three of the losses came against the Fighting Irish. Some people suggest that Michigan should take Notre Dame off the schedule to give Michigan a better shot at a National Championship. I suggest a different approach. Beating Notre Dame on the road! That will give Michigan a better shot at a National Championship than dropping ND from the schedule and adding a Michigan directional school (i.e., Eastern, Western, Central). Michigan needs to beat the best to be the best. I firmly believe that beating tough teams on the road early will pay dividends down the road (pardon the pun) during the Big Ten season and even in the Bowl game.

The question is not so much what team the Wolverines should play but how should Michigan prepare for their road opener. The coaching staff needs to get the team mentally ready for the challenges the team will face away from the safety of the familiar confines of Michigan Stadium. As a review of the above list of opponents reveals, the quality of initial road opponents was fairly high and when the Wolverines failed to bring their "A" game they ran into trouble. Some people believe that the intense pressure of trying to be perfect affects the players' performance in the first road game. Once they have a loss in the column and the intense pressure of attaining an undefeated National Championship season is gone, the players play more loosely as the season goes on as they re-focus on winning the Big 10 title and going to the Rose Bowl. Coach Carr navigated the minefield successfully in 1997 leading the team to a National Championship and there are legions of fans that hope he can find the right formula again to inspire the team to win all the games including the all-important road opener. Go Blue!

Wolverines ranked #15 in USA Today Coaches Pre-Season Poll

The 2006 USA Today Coaches Pre-Season Poll has been released and Michigan is ranked #15. Perched atop the poll at the #1 ranking are the Wolverines arch-rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the guys over at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray could not be happier. As for Michigan, this is the first time in the past nine seasons that the Wolverines will enter the year outside the top-10 of the national polls. Nevertheless, I am happy with Michigan's pre-season ranking. The timeless truism "It's where you finish not where you start" applies herein. Last season Michigan started high (in the top 5 in most pre-season polls) but finished out of the top 25 by the end of the season. Incidentally, the last time Michigan was outside the top 25 in a season ending poll was in 1984 and the Wolverines came back the following season and achieved a season ending ranking of #2 which was Bo's best finish in his 21 year tenure with the Wolverines. I would like to see the current Wolverines duplicate or improve on that feat in 2006. Go Blue!


Is the PSD waived for Fritz Crisler's seat?

Things are beginning to build to a fever pitch as Michigan fans such as myself have received their home season ticket packages in the mail. The stadium will be filled beyond its seating capacity of 107,501 when the first football Saturday of the fall arrives on September 2nd. As an interesting tidbit, as many of you know, the one "extra" seat in the Michigan Stadium capacity number given to Michigan Stadium every year since 1956 is for Fritz Crisler's seat. However, it is a mystery as to where that seat is located in the Stadium. Nevertheless, it would not surprise me if A.D. Bill Martin instructed Associate A.D./Ticket Manager Marty Bodnar to assess a PSD (Preferred Seat Donation) to Crisler's heirs for Fritz's seat in the stadium. Hopefully, the seat is not on the fifty-yard line where it would cost the family an additional $500 for the PSD. If this happens, the family should say the seat is in the endzone and put the burden on Mr. Bodnar to prove otherwise. 27 days and counting until kickoff. Go Blue!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Who should be the 2006 team captains?

There is talk that junior tailback Mike Hart might be named one of the team captains. As outlined in a prior post, every year since 1970 Michigan has named multiple players (either two or three) to serve as team captains with at least one player coming from the offensive side and one player from the defensive side. In the late-90's a couple of offensive lineman each served as captain for multiple years. Jon Jansen was a co-Captain in 1997 and again in 1998 and Steve Hutchinson was a tri-captain in 1999 and a co-Captain in 2000. Jansen and Hutchinson were both seniors with junior eligibility the first year they each served as captain. What would be unique is if Mike Hart was elected captain by his teammates in that Hart is a true junior and historically only seniors or fifth-year seniors have served as team captain.

From the defense, I would like to see LaMarr Woodley be named a captain. As for the offense, I think Mike Hart is an excellent choice. If I had to pick a senior I would go with Steve Breaston but I think it would be a good choice for the team to go with Mike Hart despite the fact he is not yet a senior. He exemplifies the qualities the Wolverines want in a player. Therefore, I think the 2006 co-captains should be Woodley and Hart. Go Blue!

Fall Practice set to begin next week

The countdown to the 2006 season has begun in earnest as the 2006 team roster has been officially released and the players report Sunday. The team will practice once a day commencing Tuesday, August 8, 2006 and going through Saturday, August 12, 2006. Two-a-day practices begin the following week. The season opener vs. Vanderbilt is set for Saturday, September 2, 2006 at Noon. Go Blue!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Who made that play?

Today was the first day of the Big 10 Football meetings in Chicago and Michigan announced...(wait for it)...the jersey numbers it assigned to its freshman players. I'm sure the media was overwhelmed. For the die-hard faithful, however, that can be important information for two reasons. First, I know fans who want to commit the numerical roster to memory so when players come in and out of the game they can proudly announce it to everyone seated around them without having to consult their free paper program first. (Not that I or my seatmate do that). Secondly, some fans may want to get ahead of the curve and special order a jersey from the M-Den with the number on it of the freshman player who will be the next great Wolverine star. If you went to buy a jersey, you are most likely going to find numbers "1", "7", "15", and "20" available. However, you can special order a jersey with the number of your choice from the M-Den. Thus, if you want to have a "65" jersey for Justin Boren then you can order one and stand out from the crowd while everyone else is sporting Chad Henne's #7.

Without further ado, here is the list of the freshman Wolverines and the jersey numbers they will be wearing:
  • Greg Banks: 92
  • Justin Boren: 65
  • Carlos Brown: 23
  • Stevie Brown: 30
  • David Cone: 12
  • Perry Dorrestein: 79
  • Obinna Ezeh: 44
  • John Ferrara: 94
  • Brandon Graham: 55
  • Jason Kates: 93
  • Greg Matthews: 13
  • Brandon Minor: 4
  • Cobrani Mixon: 33
  • Jonas Mouton: 8
  • Quintin Patilla: 36
  • Adam Patterson: 99
  • Stephen Schilling: 52
  • Quintin Woods: 88
  • Bryan Wright: 43

Go Blue!