Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Adrian Arrington heads to court tomorrow

Wide Receiver Adrian Arrington (Jr./So.) has his pre-trial on Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 8:30 a.m., at the 14A-2 District Court in Ypsilanti. (case # DR2-06-2495) He is charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic assault. The incident report also mentions allegations of underage drinking and driving under the influence although no such charges were brought by the prosecutor. Against Northwestern, Arrington sat out the first five plays of the game and played sparingly throughout as punishment for his pending case. Coach Carr stated after the game, "I'm not going to get into it other than it's a team issue. When you use poor judgment, there's a price, and he's paying that price." Despite the limited playing time, Arrington still grabbed a 14-yard touchdown pass (pictured above) on Michigan's first drive to put the Wolverines in the lead 7-0. It is unknown if Coach Carr will take further disciplinary steps following tomorrow's pre-trial hearing or if he now considers the matter closed. More details to follow as they become available. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Adrian Arrington (16) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Time, TV announced for Michigan-Indiana game on 11-11-06

It was announced that the Michigan-Indiana game on November 11th will have a kickoff time of 3:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN Television.

As for this Saturday's game at home against Ball State (Nov. 4th) the kickoff is at Noon EST. The broadcast (if you can call it that) is on ESPNU with Clay Matvick (play-by-play), Mike Tomczak (analyst), and Quint Kessenich (sideline) calling the action. Go Blue!

Injury Update

At the Monday press conference Coach was asked, "Do you think any of those guys that missed last week will play this weekend, Riley, Ecker, Massey, Manningham?" Coach Carr responded, "I think Rueben (Riley) will play. Tyler ran last week. We'll have to see. My guess is it'll be another week. Mike Massey, I don't think so. Mario, we'll see. Mario ran very well, so I expect him to practice some this week. We just to have to see from there but we're very encouraged by him."

In today's Detroit News, Coach Carr was quoted in Angelique S. Chengelis' article as stating about Mario's return that, "I don't know when it will be, but I have every confidence that unless there's a setback that he's going to play pretty shortly." Coach Carr also said, "We'll just have to see how he does (today) or Wednesday, but he can run, I can tell you that, he can run." As for whether Manningham will participate in contact drills this week that remains to be seen.

The update on the other injuried players goes as follows: TE Tyler Ecker (right ankle) probably will not be available until the Indiana game; TE Mike Massey (right shoulder) is out; RT Rueben Riley (right ankle) will return for the Ball State game; Mike Hart (tightness in lower back) is expected to be available for Ball State. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mario Manningham by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Monday, October 30, 2006

Spreading the wealth

Mike Hart entered the Northwestern game leading the nation in carries with 214 (for 1,057 yards). Against the Wildcats, Michigan went four players deep on the tailback depth chart giving backups Kevin Grady (7 att./23 yds.), Brandon Minor (5 att./9 yds.), and Jerome Jackson (9 att./59 yds.) signficant playing time. Hart was limited to 20 carries but he still managed to run for 95 yards and a touchdown. Limiting Hart to twenty carries may not have been so much a matter of design as it was a result of the fact that he suffered a back injury in the second quarter when he fell on a sideline marker after he was knocked out of bounds.

In the Iowa game, Hart had 31 rushes and was the only Michigan tailback to carry the ball. After that performance, Coach Carr was asked at the Northwestern Week Monday press conference, "Since Mike Hart has carried the ball a lot the last few weeks is part of the plan in the coming weeks, to try to get Kevin and Brandon some more work?" Coach Carr's response was, "The plan is to win." When Hart went down unexpectedly in the second quarter against the Wildcats the plan suddenly became to secure the win with whatever tailback could hold onto the football. That became more of a challenge than one might have expected.

Kevin Grady (#2 on the depth chart) was the first backup to get pulled because of issues of securing the football. In the third quarter, Grady- who has battled "fumble-itis" his entire career- lost the ball after he was tackled. Although the referees ruled Grady was down and the ball was not fumbled, Grady was yanked from the game and not seen again for the rest of the afternoon. (Interesting sidenote, while the referees were sorting out whether the loose ball popped out after Grady was tackled, Hart ran back onto the field to replace Grady; it appeared that Hart put himself back into the game and that he did not wait for the coaches to re-insert him into the lineup.) On the next offensive series, Hart carried the ball all six plays on a six play/ thirty-six yard touchdown drive that put Michigan up 17-3. That was then the end of Hart's afternoon.

Brandon Minor (#3 on the depth chart) became the go-to tailback with Hart out and Grady sitting. Minor had been in the game earlier but now all the pressure was resting on his young shoulders. He made a freshman mistake when he chose a wrong running lane and a defender pushed one of Minor's own teammates into him causing Minor to fumble the ball. At the Monday press conference, Coach Carr explained Minor's fumble thusly:
"We had a guy, one of our guys in front of him, and he carried the ball on that play. He took the wrong course on that running play. He wasn't wide enough. Had he been on the course that he should have been on, he's going to run for very, very good yards. The play was blocked wonderfully, but because he was on the wrong track, and that's something a young player, you talk about a quarterback, you talk about anybody. The next time he runs that play he'll be on the right course because as a result of not being on the right course, one of his own men got pushed back into him. I think he probably felt secure because there was no white jersey over there that he could see. And when his own man got knocked into him, the ball came loose because he did not secure the football. So there's always a lesson out there."

When Minor was removed from the game, the Michigan coaches inserted senior Jerome Jackson into the lineup. Jackson, a former starter, came through like a senior leader as he ran hard and held onto the ball. Jackson even ripped off a 33-yard run at the end of the game. His play was very impressive and earned high praise from Coach Carr.

The odd man out of all the tailback rushing workload was freshman Carlos Brown. He did not see any game action in the backfield although he did play on special teams. When asked at the Monday press conference about playing Carlos Brown at running back, Coach Carr gave this response:
"I think Carlos has done a great job in practice, and I think if you noticed one thing, I think it's he's going to play a very important role in our punt return team. He got some opportunities on Saturday to go out and man up on their wide receivers, the guys who go down and cover the punts, and he did a very good job. I'm disappointed that we haven't had an opportunity to get him some playing time. I'm disappointed in that, and hopefully that will come because he is a guy with a lot of ability. Sometimes the season just doesn't work out like you want it to."

With Ball State as this week's opponent, Coach Carr should try and limit Hart's workload to a maximum of 20 carries. This would serve the dual purpose of allowing Hart to get a little bit of a break (which is well deserved) and would allow the reserves another chance to get in the game and demonstrate their talents. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mike Hart (20) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Michigan #2 in standings/polls

Michigan defeated Northwestern 17-3 and as Coach Carr always says the polls will take care of themselves. With USC's loss yesterday (33-31 to Oregon State) Michigan jumped up to #2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Wolverines, of course, maintained their #2 spot in the BCS standings. Michigan also maintained its #2 ranking, behind Ohio State, in the AP Poll. What does all this mean? Well it means the hype meter will start cranking up even higher for the November 18th matchup between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes. There is a "countdown to kickoff clock" on the Michigan/OSU Rivalry Online Library Exhibit for those of you counting down the hours. Go Blue!


Holding the Line

The reconfigured Michigan offensive line did not yield any sacks versus Northwestern and the O-Line opened holes that allowed the Wolverines' running backs to rush for 202 yards in the game. This was the first time all season that the starting five of the offensive line had a shakeup. As was discussed in the post of October 23, 2006 (Shift on the O-Line), Rueben Riley- the starting Right Tackle for the first 8 games of the season- was suffering from an injured ankle he hurt in the Iowa game. He was a gametime decision and Coach Carr decided to hold him out. Coach Carr stated in his postgame comments that, "We were able to hold out Reuben Riley today. He could have played today, but we've got to get healthier than we are." With Riley held out the expected shuffle on the right side of the line did in fact occur as starting RG Alex Mitchell moved to Right Tackle and true freshman Justin Boren was inserted into the Right Guard position.

Justin Boren (65) became the fourth true freshman to start along the offensive line at Michigan. Boren joined Bubba Paris (two games, 1978), Tom Dixon (one game, 1980), and Dean Dingman (three games, 1987) as the only true freshmen to make a start on the offensive line for the Wolverines. Boren played well in his debut especially in the running game.

It should be noted that Alex Mitchell left the Northwestern game with an injured hand. However, Coach Carr later stated that he does not expect Mitchell to miss any games as it appears it is an injury Mitchell can play through. As for Riley's return, he should be able to play versus Ball State but there is no reason to rush him back as long as Boren is playing well. As for the left side of the line (C Mark Bihl, LG Adam Kraus, LT Jake Long), they are the best in the game and all three should at least be named All-Big 10 after the season is over. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) in the pocket created by Jake Long (77), Adam Kraus (57), Justin Boren (65) and Alex Mitchell (on far left of picture) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Going backwards

In a dominating performance, Michigan's defense held Northwestern to minus 13 yards rushing for the game. The Wildcats offensive gearshift appeared to be stuck in reverse as the Wolverines held Northwestern to -13 yards rushing on 17 attempts (-0.8 avg.). This is the second team of the past three opponents (Penn State -14 rushing yards being the other) that the Wolverines' defense has held to negative rushing yards for the game.

In what has to be even more encouraging for Defensive Coordinator Ron English (pictured at right, chest bumping Jamar Adams) is the fact that the "D" forced 5 turnovers yesterday versus the Wildcats. That was something Coach "E" wanted to see because the defense had only forced 3 turnovers (2 int. vs. MSU, 1 fumble recovery vs. Iowa) in five Big Ten Conference games. Against the Wildcats, the defense tallied two fumble recoveries on Northwestern's first two offensive possessions of the game. In the second half, the Wolverines' defense picked off three passes one of which gave Michigan a short field that led to a six-play, 36-yard drive that ended with a touchdown to give Michigan a 17-3 lead.

Michigan's defense racked up twelve tackles for loss and three sacks against Northwestern (0-5, 2-7). The most spectacular play all afternoon came early from team co-Captain LaMarr Woodley. On the opening series of the game, Northwestern was moving the ball down the field when Woodley rushed the QB C.J. Bacher and knocked the ball out of his hands while tackling him. Woodley then recovered the loose ball and recorded a "hat trick" by scoring a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery all on the same play. Now that is an All-America player. Woodley also recorded another sack in the fourth quarter of the game and now has eleven (11) on the season. Not to be outdone, CB Leon Hall registered an interception, a fumble recovery and multiple pass break-ups. Both Woodley and Hall are giving outstanding performances while spearheading an incredible defense. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Def. Coordinator Ron English and Jamar Adams (22) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Michigan 17 Northwestern 3

Michigan battled the elements and the Wildcats in front of a Homecoming crowd of 109,114 at the Big House and the Wolverines emerged victorious by the score of 17-3 to run their season record to 9-0. Following are links to the game recap, box score, player participation charts, postgame notes, photo gallery and player/coach quotes. Much analysis to follow as soon as I dry off from a very wet day at the stadium. Go Blue!

Bob Mann: 1947 National Champion team member passes away

Bob Mann was a wide receiver on the 1947 National Championship team (10-0) coached by Fritz Crisler that beat USC 49-0 in the Rose Bowl. After graduating from Michigan, Mr. Mann went on to the NFL where he played for the Detroit Lions. He had the distinction of being the Lions' first African-American player and the Lions' first 1,000 yard receiver. He amassed 1,014 receiving yards in 1949 which led the NFL that season. After a highly successful NFL career with Detroit and the Green Bay Packers, Mr. Mann went on to an even more successful career as an attorney in Detroit. Mr. Mann practiced law for more than 30 years and his law office was just a few blocks away from Ford Field. In fact, it was just last month that I had the honor of meeting Mr. Mann while he and I waited in a court in Detroit where we were representing our respective clients. Mr. Mann was extremely gracious as we chatted for a few minutes while we waited for the judge. He explained to me that he liked the looks of this year's Michigan team and stated he thought they could win the National Championship (just like his team had done in '47). Mr. Mann was a trailblazer and will be sorely missed. He was 82 at the time of his passing. Go Blue!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Stadium and Main: Where info and entertainment intersect

Here is the weekly link to all you need to know about this week's game: Stadium and Main: Northwestern game linkfest. Nick really does a fabulous job week in and week out with compiling this linkfest. Go Blue!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stretching the field

Through six games, WR Mario Manningham had amassed 24 receptions for 527 yards (22.0 avg.) and 9 touchdowns. Manningham's receiving yardage and touchdown totals led all Big Ten Conference receivers at the time. All of Manningham's nine (9) TD receptions came on passes of 20+ yards from Chad Henne. The quick strike abiltiy of Henne to hit Manningham with the deep ball "stretched the field" which opened things up for Mike Hart and the running game. However, in the game last Saturday vs. the Hawkeyes which Manningham missed with a knee injury, Henne's longest completion only went for 17 yards (and that was to TE Carson Butler). Not too much should be made of one game though as it could have been an anomaly. The previous week against Penn State (which Manningham also missed), Henne connected with WR Adrian Arrignton for a 25-yard TD pass as well as another 27-yard play. Additionally, Henne threw a 24-yarder to WR Steve Breaston. With Manningham probably still a couple of weeks away from returning it will be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord calls the offense. As fans have seen, a deep threat can make all the difference in opening things up for the entire offense. Against Northwestern this week and Ball State next week, I would like to see Michigan try and go deep to true freshman WR Greg Mathews who has been emerging as a receiving threat. However, his longest reception this year has only gone for 12 yards. The next two games are a great opportunity to throw a couple of deep passes his way and give him some invaluable experience. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mario Manningham (86) scoring TD in Big 10 opener against Wisconsin by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Injury Update

TE Tyler Ecker (right ankle) and TE Mike Massey (shoulder) will both likely be out again this week...Kickoff Specialist/Punter Ross Ryan continues to be out and Garrett Rivas will continue assuming the kickoff duties while Zoltan Mesko will handle the punting duties full-time...S Ryan Mundy is expected to return for the Northwestern game...Offensive Lineman Rueben Riley, Jr.'s status for the Northwestern game is unknown at this time...Offensive Lineman Steve Schilling had surgery last week on his shoulder and is officially out for the season...WR Mario Manningham is undergoing rehabilitation on his knee and is expected back in the next couple of weeks...Former Coach Bo Schembechler had heart surgery and is recovering. Go Blue!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Instant Replay

During the Michigan-Iowa game, there were consecutive incomplete passes in the endzone from Chad Henne to Adrian Arrington. The first play (pictured at right) was not reviewed. The second play was reviewed but the ruling on the field was upheld. Many fans wondered aloud why the first play was not reviewed. Many others seemed to misunderstand when and how plays are reviewed. In an attempt to help alleviate the confusion, here is a link to the Big Ten Conference page on Instant Replay. However, please note the Big Ten orginally posted this in 2005 and it has not updated its site to reflect the rule changes instituted for this season. For your convenience, I am reprinting below the Q & A section of the page:

Q. Are the instant replay procedures used by the Big Ten the same as those of the NFL? A. Even though the desired outcome of replay is the same - getting the play right - the manner in which football replay is used in the Big Ten is significantly different than any method the NFL has previously used. The mechanics of Big Ten replay are explained in further detail on the previous page, but simply stated: Neither game officials nor coaches will have the ability to stop game action in order to have the immediately completed play reviewed. All such stoppages and reviews will be conducted by a Technical Advisor in a secure area of the press box.
Q. Which games will have instant replay? A. The NCAA voted to allow all conferences and independent institutions to experiment with instant replay during the 2005 season. In the Big Ten, all intraconference games will utilize the system while home interconference games may also have replay upon the approval of the visiting team.
Q. Will all conferences have the same instant replay system? A. While some conferences will be using an instant replay system that is nearly identical to the Big Ten's version, other conferences may incorporate minor changes, including different equipment, the possibility of coaches' challenges and the use of video from stadium video boards. The complete list of other conferences instituting instant replay in 2005 and possible differences is included later in this section.
Q. What is the intended purpose of the Big Ten's replay system? A. To provide the Technical Advisor with the wherewithal to immediately review plays, and where there is indisputable video evidence, correct specific types of officiating mistakes. What the replay system will not do is guarantee that all officiating mistakes are identified and corrected.
Q. Who can initiate a review of an official's call? A. Only the Technical Advisor serving as the review official for the game. Neither the game officials nor the coaches may ask for a review.
Q. When can a game be stopped to review an official's call? A. The Technical Advisor will look at nearly every reviewable play during the course of the game in search of indisputable video evidence. However, the game will not be stopped unless there is reasonable video evidence that an error may have occurred during a reviewable play. Technical Advisors are also advised to avoid unnecessary interruptions unless it appears that an officiating call may be in error and that the call has a discernable competitive impact on the game.
Q. Who will be making the decision if a call is overturned or not? A. The Technical Advisor will have the sole authority to change a call, or no call, on the field. Unlike the NFL model, officials working Big Ten games will not have the ability or capacity to view the replay(s).
Q. How will the Technical Advisor know that an on-field call by an official will need to be changed? A. Unless in the judgment of the Technical Advisor there is reasonable video evidence that the call on the field was incorrect, then no stoppage of play will occur. If there is reasonable video evidence that an official's call on the field was incorrect, then the Technical Advisor will notify the referee to shut the play down while the call is further reviewed and corrected.
Q. What will be the source of the video for replays? A. All reviewable video will come direct from the television production of the game and no other source. The Big Ten has had 88 percent or more of its 44 intraconference games televised during the past five seasons. If an intraconference game will not be televised, then the Big Ten will arrange for video exposure of the game in order to provide the same, consistent coverage throughout the Conference season.
Q. Who are the Technical Advisors? A. Technical Advisors are former college and/or NFL officials who observe, evaluate and rate game officials' performances and mechanics during games. They report to and are evaluated by David Parry, the coordinator of officials.
Q. How long will instant replay be a rule? A. The NCAA Football Rules Committee voted to allow all conferences and independent institutions to experiment with instant replay during the 2005 season. Following the 2005 season, the Football Rules Committee will review the success of the rule and decide whether it should be added as a permanent rule change.
Q. Will the length of games be affected? A. The use of instant replay did not significantly affect game times as the length of the 57 games utilizing instant replay in 2004 was only three hours and 16 minutes, compared to three hours and 13 minutes in all 2003 contests. Less than one stoppage occurred per game in 2004 and the Big Ten's average length of review was only two minutes and 39 seconds, compared to the National Football League average of three minutes and 20 seconds for its instant replay system.
Q. When can a play be reviewed? A. Only until the ball is put into play on the next play. At that point, the previous play cannot be changed.
Q. Is there a time limit on how long a play can be reviewed? A. There is no time limit...only the standard of indisputable video evidence. If the television replay does not allow the Technical Advisor to apply this standard in a manner that changes the call on the field, then the game plays on.
Q. Briefly describe the mechanics of how a play is reviewed? A. The Technical Advisor will signal the officials on the field that he is reviewing a play, and that game action should be halted. The Technical Advisor will then view replays for as long as necessary to determine whether indisputable video evidence exists for the ruling on the field to be acknowledged as incorrect. Once reviewed the Technical Advisor will notify the referee of the correct call, and time, down and distance, who will announce such to the crowd. Communication between the Technical Advisor in the press box and the referee on the field will be by radio (with a backup phone line).
Q. What if a team is using a hurry-up offense and the Technical Advisor does not have enough time to view a replay to decide whether or not the play is reviewable? A. The decision to stop the game must be made before the ball is snapped. Similar to the NFL, if a team is in a hurry-up offense, it may curtail the ability to completely review some plays.
Q. Is the Technical Advisor limited to the number of plays that can be reviewed? A. No
Q. Will there be sufficient camera angles to review plays from anywhere on the field? A. The replay process will be limited to what is viewable by television cameras. Sometimes a particular angle that might be better will not be immediately available.
Q. What happens if TV comes back from a commercial break after Team A kicks a PAT and shows a better replay that the Team A runner actually did fumble the ball before he crossed the goal line? A. The play still stands as called on the field, since there was no indisputable video evidence to the contrary at the time the touchdown call was made. However, if Team B has called a timeout prior to the PAT, and TV returns from a commercial break with the better replay showing the Team A runner fumbling before crossing the goal line, then the play would be subject to review by the Technical Advisor.

As noted previously, in addition to the above, the NCAA added some additional features to the Instant Replay rules prior to the 2006 season. Once per game, each head coach may also call a timeout and challenge the ruling on the previous play before the next play starts. A coach must have at least one timeout remaining in order to challenge (teams receive three timeouts per half). If the challenge is successful and the on-field ruling is overturned, the team keeps its timeout. If not, the team loses its timeout. In either event, the head coach may not challenge again during the game. Hopefully, the above information clears up some of the confusion surrounding the rules regarding instant replay in the Big Ten Conference. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Adrian Arrington (16) by Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press

Details emerge re: Arrington's legal troubles

After internet rumors have been swirling for the past few days regarding legal problems involving wide receiver Adrian Arrington, concrete details are now beginning to emerge. In today's Detroit Free Press, Mark Snyder's article provides all the details surrounding the alleged domestic violence/underage drinking incident that allegedly occurred October 13th. Coach Carr's internal review is still ongoing. Go Blue!


Monday, October 23, 2006

Shift on the O-Line

Michigan has had amazing consistency on the offensive line this season as the same five players have started each game: LT Jake Long; LG Adam Kraus; C Mark Bihl; RG Alex Mitchell; RT Rueben Riley. The offensive line has played well this year as it has yielded only 12 sacks in 8 games and Wolverine ballcarriers are averaging more than four yards per carry. However, with the injury that Riley suffered during the second half of the Iowa game it looks like the starting lineup will have a different look this Saturday. When Riley was pulled against the Hawkeyes, Mitchell switched over to Right Tackle and true freshman Justin Boren came in and took over at Right Guard. Boren is the first true freshman to play on the offensive line while Lloyd Carr has been the Head Coach at Michigan. Although still a true freshman, Boren was an early enrollee and the extra practice may have landed him his spot on the field. Just look at this quote from Coach Carr from today's press conference:
"I think he did extremely well. I don't think you could ask more of a true freshman lineman than what Justin did in there. He made some mistakes, but he'll learn from that. And to be able to -- the thing about getting an opportunity to play, in most cases you don't know when it's coming. And so often, because you maybe don't expect to play, or you go out there two, three, four games and you don't get to play because nothing happens."
"All of a sudden somebody goes down and you have got about three seconds to think about it before they call your name and tell you to go in the game. So to be prepared and do as well as he did, I think, speaks highly of his motivation. He would be much further along had he not missed the last six weeks. He's missed a lot of practice this fall. I don't think he could have done what he is doing or what he did Saturday had he not been here last spring."

Riley's status for the Northwestern game is still uncertain. However, with the emergence of Boren it is unlikely that the Wolverines will rush Riley back. Thus, the Wolverines will probably have a new starting five on the offensive line for the first time this season. This game will give the reconfigured right side of the line valuable experience. Go Blue!

TIme, TV announced for Michigan-Ball State game on Nov. 4th

It was announced today that the Michigan-Ball State game on Nov. 4th will have a kickoff time of Noon EST and will be televised on ESPNU Television (for the few households that actually receive ESPNU).

As for this Saturday's game versus Northwestern, the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Rob Stone (sideline) calling the action. Sorry, no Erin Andrews this week. Go Blue!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hart should change his jersey number to 31

Mike Hart entered the Iowa game leading the nation with 183 carries. In the game vs. the Hawkeyes, Hart carried the ball 31 times for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. This game marked the fourth (4th) time this season that Hart tallied 31 rushes in a game. Following are Hart's game-by-game statistics:

  • vs. Vanderbilt 31 att., 146 yds., 0 tds.
  • vs. Central Mich. 19 att, 116 yds, 3 tds.
  • at Notre Dame 31 att., 124 yds., 1 td.
  • vs. Wisconsin 23 att., 91 yds., 1 td.
  • at Minnesota 31 att., 195 yds., 0 tds.
  • vs. Mich. State 22 att., 122 yds., 0 tds.
  • at Penn State 26 att., 112 yds., 1 td.
  • vs. Iowa 31 att., 126 yds., 2 tds.

With Northwestern (2-6), Ball State (2-6), and Indiana (4-4) as the Wolverines next three opponents, it is time to cut back on the number of carries for Hart. Michigan has a deep backfield with Kevin Grady, Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown and none of the three even touched the ball versus the Hawkeyes. As I've posted before, Hart needs to be fresh for the November 18th contest versus the Buckeyes and the back-ups need more experience so it benefits everyone to spread the carries around for the next three games. Hart should be limited to 20 carries per game and the remaining carries should be split amongst Minor/Brown/Grady with the two freshman receiving the bulk of the carries because they need the most experience. Minor has amassed 118 yards on just 18 rushes this year while Brown has been even more limited in his playing time and has just 8 carries for 18 yards this season. As it has been determined that Brown will not be applying for a medical redshirt this year, it is especially vital to get him some carries to make it worthwhile that he is using his first year of eligiblity this season. Brown and Minor are more than capable of "getting it done" on the "extra" carries that Hart gives up in the next 3 games when he hits the magic number of 20 carries. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mike Hart (20) by Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press


Michigan now #2 in the BCS standings

With Michigan's 20-6 victory yesterday over Iowa, the Wolverines have now moved up to #2 in the BCS standings. Michigan passed USC and trails only #1 OSU whom they have a date with on November 18th in Columbus, OH. Click here for an explanation of the Bowl Championship Series formula. Once you figure it out you can explain it to me. Also, the Wolverines remain ranked #2 in the AP poll and #3 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. Go Blue!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Michigan 20 Iowa 6

Michigan turned back the challenge from the Hawkeyes in front of a crowd of 110,923 at the Big House and came away with a 20-6 victory to run their season record to a perfect 8-0. Following are links to the game recap, box score, player participation charts, postgame notes, photos, and player/coach quotes. As always, much analysis to follow. Go Blue!

Go to Stadium & Main to read up on the game vs. the Hawkeyes

All you need to know and more can be found right here. It's the weekly link to the blog that links you to everything you need to know and then some. Head over to Stadium and Main: Iowa game linkfest and read to your heart's content or until kickoff whichever comes first. Go Blue!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hart demonstrates how he does it

On Saturday, ESPN College Gameday broadcast a segment filmed at The Big House with Desmond Howard interviewing Mike Hart on Hart's technique for holding on to the ball. Following the Penn State game, Hart now has 606 consecutive offensive touches without a lost fumble. He had a streak of 450 consecutive touches without a fumble that ended on his first carry of the CMU game earlier this season. That fumble was recovered by Mario Manningham and Hart has held onto the ball without a miscue since then. Thus, he has extended his streak without a lost fumble to over two seasons. The last (and only time) Hart ever lost a fumble was on Sept. 25, 2004 vs. Iowa.

In the Penn State game, Hart started off by rushing for only 5 yards on his first 5 carries. He gained 26 yards on his last 3 carries, twenty-three yards of which came on his long run of the night. That leaves 18 carries in between where he gained 85 yards and scored a touchdown. Considering everything that was good production in a tough situation. He was still able to average well over 4 yards per carry for most of the game and keep the defense from "teeing off" on Henne because the running game got shut down. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mike Hart (20) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Poise in the face of NOISE!

Michigan QB Chad Henne did a remarkable job running the offense in "white out" conditions at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. At the Monday press conference Coach Carr stated, "That's where I think Chad Henne was just unbelievable, in the way that he was able to keep us in our offense, get us in the right play, because there's a lot of teams that go into those situations and just decide they're not going to check the play, they're just going to call a play and run it. And when you do that, you make it easier, but once the ball is snapped, it's not easier."

The Penn State game was Henne's 31st consecutive start at QB at Michigan and his experience showed. He handled the pressure like he was playing a home game rather than playing in front of 110,000 hostile fans who wished he had signed with their school. Henne made his usual laser like throws especially on the TD pass to Adrian Arrington that put Michigan on the board. Hopefully, this performance will silence once and for all the maize and blue critics who questioned his ability to lead. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) by Carolyn Kaster/Special to the Detroit Free Press


Monday, October 16, 2006

Tracking the defense

The Michigan defense limited Penn State to minus 14 yards rushing on Saturday and it continues to lead the nation in rushing defense this season. The defense has yielded a mere 32.6 yards per game to the opposition. On the season the opposition has carried the ball 166 times for a paltry 228 yards (1.4 yard/avg.) and two rushing touchdowns in seven games.

One of the major reasons for the defense's success this season is the play of team co-Captain LaMarr Woodley. At the Monday press conference, Coach Carr called Woodley's performance against Penn State "his best game at Michigan." Woodley had a season-high five tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble against the Nittany Lions. Woodley's outstanding effort earned him the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week award.


Michigan is tied for for 32nd nationally (of 119 D-IA schools) with 14 forced turnovers (8 fumble recoveries & 6 interceptions) in 7 games. However, 10 of those forced turnovers occurred in the first three games. During the four Big Ten games that Michigan has played thus far it has forced only four turnovers. The defense earned two of those turnovers (two interceptions vs. MSU) and the punt cover team earned the other two turnovers (two fumble recoveries- Wisconsin and Penn State). Thus, the Wolverines' defense has only forced two turnovers during its Big Ten conference play. As fantastic as Coach English's defense has been this season, the Wolverines need to step up and start making more plays on defense to force turnovers during the season's final five games.

On the offensive side of the ball, the "protect the ball" mantra of coaches Carr and DeBord is paying off as the Wolverines are tied for the lead in the nation in fewest turnovers with five (one fumble, four interceptions). The low turnover rate has helped establish the Wolverines as second in the Big 10 and sixth (6th) in the nation in turnover margin this season.

Defensive Rankings through seven games

  • Scoring Defense: 13.6 avg.; 3rd in Big 10; 14th in NCAA
  • Total Defense: 241.3 avg.; 2nd in Big 10; 7th in NCAA
  • Rushing Defense: 32.6 avg.; 1st in Big 10; 1st in NCAA
  • Passing Defense: 208.7 avg; 6th in Big 10; 74th in NCAA
  • Pass Efficiency: 106.9 avg; 3rd in Big 10; 23rd in NCAA
  • Tackles for Loss: 7.43 avg; - in Big 10; T13th in NCAA
  • Sacks: 3.43 avg; 1st in Big 10; 8th in NCAA
  • Third Downs: 27.5%; 2nd in Big 10; 7th in NCAA

Third Down Defense

The Wolverines' Defense is always tough but it is particularly stingy on third down. Michigan's defense ranks seventh in the nation in third down defense percentage as opponents have converted just 28/102 (27.5 %) of their third down chances this season. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of LaMarr Woodley by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Michigan vs. OSU: past battles of the undefeated teams

With Michigan's win over Penn State and Ohio State's win over Michigan State this past Saturday, the talk has increased regarding the possiblity of both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes being undefeated when they meet for their showdown on November 18th. The two titans of the Big 10 have met twice before in the modern era (defined as when Bo Schembechler began coaching Michigan in 1969) when both teams came into the game undefeated and untied. The first time was in 1970 when 9-0 Michigan traveled to Columbus, OH to take on the 8-0 Buckeyes. (See post of May 24, 2006). Michigan was ranked #4 and the Buckeyes were ranked #5 heading into the game. Ohio State won a tough game 20-9. In 1973, Michigan was 10-0 with the #4 ranking and OSU was 9-0 with the #1 ranking when they faced off in Ann Arbor in their annual season ending showdown. (See post of June 11, 2006). The game was a classic and ended in a 10-10 tie. As the teams finished as the co-Big 10 champions, the Big Ten Athletic Directors had to vote to determine which team to send to the Rose Bowl. They voted by a 6-4 margin to send OSU to the Rose Bowl and Michigan stayed home as back then only the conference champion advanced to a bowl game.

As November 18th approaches the anticipation will continue to build for the matchup between the big two of the Big 10. Click here for a link to the Michigan Bentley Library page regarding the history of the OSU/UM rivalry. It includes a countdown clock to this year's game which currently stands at 33 days. At least this year, there will not be a tie game and there will not be a vote of the conference's Athletic Directors. It will be decided on the field in the Horseshoe. Go Blue!

Michigan #3 in initial BCS standings

Michigan is #3 in the initial BCS standings released today behind Ohio State and USC. Michigan is ranked #2 in the AP Poll and, as I posted earlier today, they are #3 in the coaches' poll. The BCS standings can be found here. With the #3 ranking in the BCS, Michigan is in control of its own destiny if they and OSU both "win out" prior to the showdown on November 18th. Even if USC is #2, a Michigan victory over #1 OSU in the season finale would propel Michigan into the BCS title game on January 8, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona. Now the trick is for both Michigan and OSU to get to their November 18th date in Columbus, OH undefeated. Go Blue!


USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll

The USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll has been released and Michigan has moved up to #3 in the polls with its 17-10 win over Penn State. Ohio State received all 63 first place votes this week and is the undisputed #1 team with 1,575 points. USC (6-0) is #2 with 1,476 points and the Wolverines are right behind at 1,430. The Coaches' Poll comprises one-third of a team's BCS standing which will be released later today. Go Blue!

Michigan defense knocks Penn State quarterbacks for a loop

The Michigan defense kept up relentless pressure on the Nittany Lions' QBs and Penn State was forced to resort to playing the #3 QB on their depth chart. The Wolverines' defense registered seven (7) sacks for 65 negative yards. The defense limited Penn State to minus 14 yards rushing on 25 carries. The Wolverines held Penn State without a rushing touchdown and without any third quarter points. That means the Wolverines defense has been able to accomplish those two feats in six of seven games this season. Only MSU has scored a rushing TD and scored on Michigan's defense in the 3rd quarter this season.

DE LaMarr Woodley registered two sacks (for -23 yards) against Penn State while his DE counter-part Rondell Biggs also registered two sacks (for -15 yards). NG Terrence Taylor racked up his first sack of the year during this game and LB Shawn Crable and DE Tim Jamison also registered sacks against the Nittany Lions. Defensive Coordinator Ron English will be pleased that the Wolverines' defense was able to register 7 sacks vs. Penn State as the defense had only tallied one sack in the previous two Big 10 games (Minnesota and MSU). However, Coach English will want more production from the defense in terms of turnovers. The defense failed to force a turnover against Penn State and has forced only two turnovers (2 interceptions vs. MSU) in four Big 10 conference games. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Alan Branch (80) by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

Michigan 17 Penn State 10

Michigan fought through "white out" conditions at Beaver Stadium in front of a crowd of 110,007 and the Wolverines captured their eighth straight victory over the Nittany Lions. Following are links to the game recap, box score, player participation charts, postgame notes, and photos. As always, much analysis to follow. Go Blue!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Link to Stadium and Main Linkfest

Read up for the match-up vs. the Nittany Lions at Stadium and Main: Penn State game linkfest. Go Blue!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Game Management

Coach Carr is widely hailed as an outstanding recruiter and a great motivator but he has often received much undue criticism for his game management decisions. There has not been as much second guessing of Coach Carr's decisions this year but that is probably because the Wolverines are 6-0 and ranked #4 in the AP poll. The Wolverines have taken control of the majority of their games in the early going. In fact, Michigan has taken a lead into halftime in five of their six games (against Wisconsin they went into halftime tied at 10). Unlike last year, Michigan has been able to protect their early leads this season. Thus, Coach Carr has not had to make too many controversial game management decisions this season as they have been ahead comfortably in the majority of their games. However, there are a couple of game management points worth reviewing:

Taking points off the board

With time winding down in the first half against MSU and the Wolverines leading 17-0, Coach Carr was faced with a decision regarding whether he wanted to "take points off the board." MSU committed a personal foul penalty during Garrett Rivas' 40-yard field goal try that put the Wolverines up 17-0. The rule of thumb is to never "take points off the board." However, Coach Carr, not known as a huge risk taker, decided to take a calculated risk and take the points off the board. Michigan took the penalty and had a first down at State's 11-yard line with the score back to 14-0. Ultimately, the Wolverines only moved the ball 4 yards in three plays and had to settle for a field goal attempt from the 7-yard line. Garrett Rivas' kick was partially blocked but it still had enough on it and the kick was good and the score was once again 17-0. Coach Carr later explained that he decided to "take points off the board" because he wanted to run down the clock to limit MSU's opportunities on offense prior to the expiration of the half. I liked the call. It appeared to be a "riverboat gambler" type of coaching decision but really it was a smart, calculated risk. Even if the kick had been blocked, it was still the right decision to make under the circumstances. Nevertheless, I'm glad the kick went through the uprights.

Best defense is a good offense

Michigan has a fantastic defense but the most effective way to stop an opponent from scoring is to keep their offense off of the field. Michigan leads the nation in time of possession, averaging 34:15 per game, three seconds better than second place Alabama. Michigan has controlled the football for more than 33 minutes in four games this season. It held the ball for a season high of 37:39 vs. Minnesota as the Wolverines ran 69 offensive plays for 518 yards. Coach Carr's philosophy of establishing the run this season has the dual benefit of controlling the clock and opening up the passing game. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Lloyd Carr by Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press


TIme, TV announced for Michigan-Iowa game on 10-21-06

It has been announced that the October 21, 2006 home game vs. Iowa is scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be broadcast on ABC Television. Go Blue!

Mario Manningham injury update

Details are slowly being revealed about the extent of the injury sophmore wide receiver Mario Manningham suffered during the MSU game. As reported in today's Detroit Free Press, Coach Carr stated during today's Big 10 teleconference that, "Mario had arthroscopic surgery this morning and we got great news as far as the injury. He’ll miss this week but we’re very excited about the news we received."

The Freep report goes on to state that Coach Carr refused to speculate on a timetable for Mannigham's return. In the Detroit News, Angelique S. Chengelis (a/k/a The Angel of The Big House) stated in her article that the surgery was to repair a partial torn meniscus and a possible tear of the medial collateral ligament in one of Manningham's knees. She wrote that Manningham was expected to miss several weeks beginning with this Saturday's Penn State game.

More details to follow as information continues to become available. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mario Manningham by Robin Buckson/The Detroit News

1st Annual Wolverines vs. Buckeyes Challenge for Life

Christy Hammond, a University of Michigan student majoring in Sports Management, sent along this Public Service Announcement (PSA). By the way, Ms. Hammond is the webmaster of the always excellent blog Behind the Jersey. Check it out. Anyways, back to the PSA:

"HELP US BEAT THE BUCKEYES!!The University of Michigan has engaged Ohio State University in a life-saving competition this semester. It's the 1ST ANNUAL WOLVERINES VS. BUCKEYES CHALLENGE FOR LIFE, to see which school can sign up more people to their state's organ, tissue and eye donor registry.The contest will run until 12:00 noon on Friday, November 17. The winner will be announced during the big football game (in Columbus) on Saturday, November 18.PLEASE HELP US BEAT THE BUCKEYES by going to this webpage: http://www.giftoflifemichigan.org/goblue/ and signing up to save lives through organ and tissue donation. You can be a hero by saving and enhancing over 50 lives as an organ and tissue donor!Sincerely,U-M Students for Organ Donation Executive Board"

I actually am already on the list as I signed up last year on the Michigan Secretary of State website when I renewed my driver's license. However, according to Ms. Hammond you can still sign up and participate in this U of M/OSU challenge even if you are already on the list. If you are not already on the list then here is your opportunity. It only takes a moment to do but can make all the difference in a person's life. Plus, Michigan gets to beat the Buckeyes! Go Blue!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Michigan 6-0 for the first time since...

Michigan's victory over MSU ran the Wolverines record to 6-0 on the season. In the past 29 years the Wolverines have started a season with six consecutive victories only three times (1986; 1997 National Championship year; and 2006). However, back in Bo's early years Michigan would routinely reach that mark. In the five seasons from 1970-1974, Michigan started each year with at least nine consecutive victories. The Wolverines were also 8-0 in 1976 and 6-0 in 1977 under Coach Schembechler.

In 1976, the Wolverines were 8-0 and ranked #1 in the nation when they lost on the road to unranked Purdue by the score of 16-14. (See post of June 30, 2006). In 1986, the Schembechler coached Wolverines were 9-0 and ranked #2 in the nation when they lost at home to unranked Minnesota by the score of 20-17. In 1997, the Wolverines were not to be denied and they ran the table earning Michigan the title of National Champions!

As history has taught us, the road to the National Championship is fraught with many perils. Any Big 10 team is capable of derailing the Wolverines goal of another National Championship. The 2006 Wolverines have played well thus far but there is a lot of football left to be played. Michigan has only reached the halfway point of its season. Michigan's players need to stay focused on each upcoming game. Chad Henne's response today at the Monday press conference sums up the team's philosophy regarding looking ahead:
On entertaining the thoughts of a national championship game ... "It is really taking each game at a time. Of course we have big goals and want to be where we want to be. We have to worry about Penn State before we ever worry about a national championship or the Big Ten Championship. So we're worried about Penn State and that is all we can worry about right now."

There is a long way to go but the team's goal of winning the National Championship is still very attainable. It will be a thrilling second half of the season. Go Blue!

Mario Manningham reportedly out with injury for Penn State game

Details are sketchy at this point but it is being reported that potential All-America wide receiver Mario Mannigham will likely miss this Saturday's game vs. Penn State due to a knee injury suffered during the MSU game. The super sophmore has racked up 9 touchdowns this season (8 in the past 4 games) and has twice been named the Big 10 Offensive Player of the Week this season. The "Wolverine Insider" Angelique S. Chengelis (a/k/a The Angel of The Big House) of the Detroit News is reporting that Manningham is unlikely to play vs. Penn State due to the injury. The extent of the injury and how long Manningham might be out is unknown at this point. As ESPN noted, Coach Carr is not providing details at this time.

Here is how the exchange went between Coach Carr and the media at today's press conference:

Is Mario Manningham going to play? ... "Is he going to play? Well, we'll have to see."
Is there anything at all (on Mario) that you want to comment on about his situation? ... "I don't have any comment on Mario. I'm sure you will understand, because I don't know everything there is to know. At some point I will. Make sure you leave your cells with me and I'll call you (laughter)."
Are you acknowledging there are issues that you need to find out? ... "I'm not acknowledging anything."
There are rumors ... "Well, no, I can't. I just don't have anything to tell you. I really don't have anything to say."

More information will be posted on this developing story as it becomes available. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mario Manningham by Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chad Henne at the halfway point in the '06 season

Chad Henne has been ruthlessly efficient in directing the Wolverines offense in the first six games of the '06 season. At the halfway point of the season, the team is 6-0 and Henne has displayed remarkable precision and accuracy with his passes. Henne, a junior, has started 30 consecutive games dating back to the very first game of his freshman year. Despite his vast experience, nervous fans were doubting the passing game after the first two games of this season as the Wolverines had focused on establishing the run. However, Henne lit Notre Dame up through the air and has continued his hot hand since that game. Here are Henne's game-by-game statistics in 2006:

  • vs. Vanderbilt: 10/22 135 yds. 2 tds. 0 int.
  • vs. Cental Mich: 11/19 113 yds. 0 tds. 0 int.
  • at Notre Dame: 13/22 220 yds. 3 tds. 1 int.
  • vs. Wisconsin: 18/25 211 yds. 2 tds. 3 ints.
  • at Minnesota: 17/24 284 yds. 3 tds. 1 int.
  • vs. Mich. State: 11/17 140 yds. 3 tds. 0 int.

As a review of the above statistics reveals, Henne has not attempted more than 25 passes in a game this season. By way of comparison, in Henne's freshman year he threw 49 passes in the Minnesota game (completing 33). Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord's "new" offense has Henne throwing only about half as many passes. However, the passes Henne has completed have been devastatingly effective. For example, against MSU Henne completed only 11 passes (on 17 attempts) but three of them went for touchdowns. Henne has thrown 13 touchdowns in six games this season. Henne has thrown 61 TD passes in the 2 1/2 years he has been Michigan's starting quarterback. He is only twelve TD passes away from setting the career record for touchdown passes by a Michigan quarterback.

In Henne's freshman year, Braylon Edwards was his primary target and last year Jason Avant was on the receiving end of the majority of Henne's throws. However, this year Henne has a dynamic duo to which he can throw. His #1 target is potential All-American Mario Manningham but he has a solid #2 option in Adrian Arrington. These two have caught all 11 TD passes that Henne has thrown in the past four games (MM=8 tds. in that span; AA=3 tds.). When opponents stack the line in an effort to stop Mike Hart, Henne goes over the top to Mario Manningham. When opponents try to double-cover MM, then Henne goes to AA who can often burn single coverage. Teams, thus far, have had no answer for the Michigan offense. What makes Michigan's passing attack so potent is Henne's accuracy. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to drop a pass to MM over the head of the defender with deadly accuracy. Henne has really come into his own and looks to be in total command of the Michigan offense. He is the field general and he has a cannon of an arm. He also has the heart of a champion. Michigan looks to be in great shape as it heads into the second half of the season as long as Henne can stay healthy. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne by Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press

Textbook game

The Michigan-Michigan State game followed Coach Carr's textbook game plan for a victory. Michigan won the coin toss and chose to defer until the second-half. Michigan State received the opening kickoff and the incredible Michigan defense sent them three-and-out. The Wolverines then took the ball on their first offensive possession, drove down a short field and scored to take a 7-0 lead. Michigan took a 17-0 lead into halftime and then received the kickoff to start the second half. Coach Carr has always stressed the importance of scoring on the first offensive possession of the second half and that is what the Wolverines did as they scored a touchdown to go up 24-0. From that point on Coach Carr (and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord) shifted into protect the ball and the lead mode. Michigan played flawlessly as it did not turn the ball over (zero interceptions, zero fumbles) and it ate the clock as it won the battle of time of possession (32:25). It all resulted in a methodical eighteen point victory for the Wolverines. Just like Coach Carr had planned it. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) and David Cone (12) by Robin Buckson/The Detroit News

Michigan 31 Michigan State 13

Michigan notched its fifth consecutive victory over the Spartans with a methodical 31-13 win yesterday in front of a crowd of 111,349 at The Big House. Following are links to the game recap, box score, player participation charts, postgame notes, photos and player/coach quotes. The Detroit Free Press has all the postgame coverage (including a photo gallery). As always, much analysis from yours truly to follow. Go Blue!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Defensively Speaking

Against Minnesota, the Michigan defense extended its season-long streaks of (1) not allowing a rushing touchdown; and (2) not allowing an opponent to score during the 3rd quarter of a game. Although the defense yielded 108 rushing yards to the Golden Gophers, it should be kept in mind that Minnesota entered the game with the nation's 8th best rushing offense in terms of yardage. Despite the fact that Minnesota topped the century mark in rushing yardage the Michigan defense emerged from the game still ranked as the #1 rushing defense in the nation just ahead of the 2nd ranked defense in the nation of the Texas Longhorns.

Overall, through five (5) games, this is how the Michigan defense stacks up:
  • Scoring Defense 14.4 avg.; 3rd in Big 10; 21st in NCAA
  • Total Defense 238.2 avg.; 1st in Big 10; 8th in NCAA
  • Rushing Defense 36.4 avg.; 1st in Big 10; 1st in NCAA
  • Passing Defense 201.8 avg.; 8th in Big 10; 70th in NCAA
  • Pass Efficiency 104.9 avg.; 4th in Big 10; 28th in NCAA
  • Tackles for Loss 7.6 average; 2nd in Big 10; T12 in NCAA
  • Sacks 3.2 average; Tied 2nd in Big 10; Tied 17th in NCAA
  • Third Downs 22.2 avg.; 1st in Big 10; 3rd in NCAA

The Michigan defense is obviously among the best, if not THE best, in the nation. Nevertheless, I am slightly concerned with the fact that the defense failed to cause a turnover in the two Big Ten games (Wisconsin & Minnesota) it has played thus far this season. A further cause for pause is that the defense also failed to record a sack in the Minnesota game. Look for the Michigan "D" to rack up both sacks and turnovers against MSU as they prepare to make a push into the second-half of their 2006 schedule. Go Blue!

The Engine that drives the offense

Blah Blah Blah: That Thing Got a Henne?

Click on the link above for a great post by Robert over at Blah, Blah, Blah re: the "engine" that drives the offense. That engine is high performance and finely tuned and MSU will have a difficult time not getting run over this Saturday. Go Blue!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Third Down Conversions

What a difference a week makes. A week after going a dismal 2-13 on third down (0-1 on 4th down) vs. Wisconsin, the Wolverines were incredibly efficient against Minnesota converting 10-15 third down plays and 1-1 on 4th down conversions. The success against the Golden Gophers on third down conversions was keyed by the Wolverines rushing game. The Wolverines were able to keep themselves in favorable down-and-distance situations because they were averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

On the season on 3rd down plays, QB Chad Henne is 19-35 (54.3%) for 318 yards, 5 tds., 3 ints., 6 sacks. As a team, the Wolverines are 29/72 (40%) on 3rd down conversions this season and are 3/4 (75%) on 4th down conversions. This is fairly comparable to how the Wolverines performed over the course of the entire previous season. In the 2005 season, the Wolverines were 78/188 (41.5%) on 3rd down conversions and 12/23 (52.2%) on 4th down conversions. Unlike 2005, the Wolverines have attempted only four 4th down conversions this season thus far because they have been ahead early in almost every game they have played this season. Go Blue!

Michigan-Michigan State Week

It is one of my favorite weeks of the year: Michigan-Michigan State Week! Unfortunately, the Spartans lost their homecoming game Saturday to lowly Illinois by the score of 23-20 and therefore MSU may come out strong looking for redemption against the Wolverines. Then again maybe not. For some insight as to where the Spartans fans' heads are at heading into Michigan-Michigan State week check out A Spartan for All Seasons for all the info on the Green and White. Go Blue!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mike Hart: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Against Minnesota, Mike Hart carried the ball 31 times for 195 yards. It marked the third time this season (of 5 games) that Hart has carried the ball 31 times in a game (Vanderbilt and Notre Dame being the other two games). That is a lot of work in a season that is not halfway complete. Prior to playing game 4 (the Wisconsin game), Jim Carty of the Ann Arbor News did an excellent article on the vagaries of overusing Hart as the season progresses. It is a difficult balance to strike. Michigan wants to use Hart enough so that they will win but they want to save him so that he will be fresh enough to contribute late in the season when they will need him to contribute big in order for the Wolverines to win. The problem is that in trying to "save" him for down the road is that the Wolverines could lose a game along the way Hart could have helped them win. It appears the Michigan coaches have clearly determined that they will continue to rely on Hart heavily and they are counting on the fact that he is in great shape and is a determined player to get them through the season. Personally, I would like to see Hart's carries limited to 25 rushes per game unless Michigan is really in a desperate situation. Kevin Grady and Brandon Minor are very capable backups and can split the remaining 15 carries a game between the two of them. Some fans are down a little bit on Kevin Grady for alleged fumble-issues but I think he remains an excellent tailback. Grady's fumble against Minnesota was simply a great play by the defender and could have happened to anyone. Unfortunately, it happened to Grady. The coaches understood that though and Grady reappered later in the game and scored a touchdown. Minor, a true freshman, brings a different look at running back than either Hart or Grady and he has performed well in limited action gaining 77 yards on just 15 carries this season. Although everyone loves to have the ball in Hart's hands, he takes a pounding and that takes a toll over a long Big 10 season. Let Grady and Minor shoulder some of the burden so Hart can be as fresh for OSU as he will be this week for MSU. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Mike Hart by David Guralnick/The Detroit News

Michigan 28 Minnesota 14

Michigan reclaimed The Little Brown Jug with a solid 28-14 victory over the Golden Gophers of Minnesota in front of a crowd of 50,805 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Following are links to the game recap, box score, player participation charts, postgame notes, and photo gallery. As always, much analysis to follow. Some of it might even be coherent. Then again, maybe not. Go Blue!