Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greg Mathews: The "X" factor

Wide Receiver Greg Mathews (Jr./Jr.) looks to have a breakout year next season as he takes over as the #1 receiver as Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington have departed early for the NFL. In Coach Rodriguez' spread offense, Mathews is likely to be used as the "X" receiver. That means he will be deployed as the outside receiver on the weak-side of the offensive formation. The "X" receiver is usually the team's top receiver and the player will see a lot of one-on-one coverage as a result of the formation. Mathews will be counted upon to take advantage when he has single coverage and force defenses to bring a linebacker over to help the cornerback with coverage. By forcing the defense to shift a linebacker over to the weak-side of the formation, it opens up the running lanes on the strong-side of the offensive formation.

Mathews is the top returning wide receiver and punt returner for the Wolverines. At 6'3", 207 lbs., he has a good combination of size and speed. He will be the prime target for Michigan's new quarterback. Last season he pulled in 39 receptions for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. Look for those statistics to dramatically increase next season. Although fans are sorry to see Manningham and Arrington leave Michigan early, Mathews is ready to rise to the challenge and become the Wolverines' #1 receiver. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Greg Mathews (13) from the 10/27/07 Minnesota game by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Resources for understanding the Spread Offense

As everyone knows, Coach Rodriguez is installing a new offensive system at Michigan (i.e., the Spread Offense). Coach Rod is considered one of the gurus of this offensive style. However, as the Wolverines have employed a pro-style offense for many years, most Michigan fans may not be intimately familiar with the terms and formations of the Spread Offense. To help the Michigan faithful understand what is coming, here are three good resources:

After reading the above, I will be happy to answer any questions you may still have regarding the Spread Offense. However, if you want a CORRECT answer, you may want to direct your questions to Coach Simmons over at Three and Out. Go Blue!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring '08 Football Media Guide

The Athletic Media Relations Department has (finally) released the Spring 2008 Michigan Football Media Guide. (.pdf) It is enough reading to keep you busy until practice resumes in the Fall.

>> Part 1 (Babb-Huyge, pages 3-21, 640 KB)

>>Part 2 (Jamison-Schrimscher, pages 22-37, 410 KB)

>> Part 3 (Sheridan-Zirbel and Recruits, pages 38-52, 372 KB)


>> Part 1 (Coach Rich Rodriguez, pages 53-57, 355 KB)

>> Part 2 (Assistant Coaches, pages 58-67, 344 KB)

>> Part 3 (Support Staff, pages 70-78, 428 KB)


>> Part 1 (Recaps, pages 79-95, 934 MB)

>> Part 2 (Statistics, pages 96-112, 588 KB)


>> Part 1 (pages 113-142, 1.31 MB)

>> Part 2 (pages 143-164, 355 KB)

>> Part 1 (pages 191-213, 503 KB)

>> Part 2 (pages 214-240, 462 KB)

Go Blue!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rundown of spring scrimmage info from the M Blogosphere

Although the April 12, 2008, Spring Scrimmage at Saline High School was a semi-closed practice session, many members of the "M Blogosphere" were present yesterday and have filed detailed reports including video, audio, and pictures on their respective blogs. Here is a rundown of where to go to read about what happened yesterday. Once you have read all this it will be like you were there yourself except for the fact you did not have to stand out in the cold:





-Audio part I & Audio part II




Go Blue!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bad weather makes for sloppy spring scrimmage

Michigan conducted its 100-play controlled scrimmage today at Saline High School and the poor weather conditions contributed to the Wolverines' sloppy performance. Michigan employed very generic formations on both sides of the ball during the scrimmage as Coach Rod did not want to reveal any schemes. Coach Rod stated after the scrimmage, "We’re being very generic today. We wouldn’t let the defense do too many things, wouldn’t let the offense do some different things because, why show your hand? I don’t know who’s here. There may be folks who snuck in here that we don’t want to see.” As for his satisfaction with the level of play, Coach Rod was quoted as saying, "This was like most of the scrimmages we’ve had. There’s some things I shake my head (at) and are really ugly and there’s some that give you some hope. As a coach, I’ve learned to be a little more patient with our first spring.” He also commented that, "We'll be all right."

It appears that Steven Threet (So./Fr.) has pulled ahead in the competition to be named the starting quarterback. He ran the first team offense during the scrimmage and appeared sharper than the other quarterbacks. Nick Sheridan (Jr./So.) runs well but his arm is not nearly as strong as Threet's arm. Third-string QB David Cone continues to struggle and is not in the mix.

Photos of the spring scrimmage are available from the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. For a detailed report- including video and exclusive audio- from someone who attended the scrimmage, head over to the always fantastic Go Blue!

*NOTE: Photo of Steve Threet (10) scrambling during the spring scrimmage at Saline High School on April 12, 2008 by ERIC SEALS/Detroit Free Press.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gentleman Rod responds

Gentleman Rod responds to the accusations leveled by Coach Tiller and Coach Tressel that he did not conduct himself as a "gentleman" while recruiting on behalf of Michigan. (Video first posted by Tim of Varsity Blue). Go Blue!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Meet Michigan's Meanest Man (Bo) [and the players who kept him on his toes]

Currently, the fourth most popular article at "The Vault" on is a piece on Bo and the Michigan Football program from 1970 entitled "Meet Michigan's Meanest Man." The article captures how Bo was tough but was beloved. The article takes note of the role that safety Jim Betts and offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf played as they "tried to keep everyone loose with a running string of gags." In particular, the article highlights the amusing antics of Betts who is also referred to in the piece as the team's best athlete. The funny anecdotes are meant to show that despite Coach Schembechler's all-business reputation, that he let the players have fun and the team was incredibly devoted to him. As Dierdorf explained, "As Bo says, he runs a tough football program. Run and run and run. The track team doesn't run as much as we do. And their coach isn't as mean, either. But this team has a sense of humor. Practice is serious but there is always time for a laugh."

Tough coach. Lots of running. Still time for a laugh. No wonder the 2008 Spring Practice was giving me a sense of deja vu. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Bo's pranksters Jim Betts (top left) and Dan Dierdorf (bottom left) with Coach Rich Rodriguez on 2/5/08.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

What country club?

As has been widely discussed on many Michigan blogs, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel recently did a piece for on the Michigan football program during which Coach Rod granted Mandel "exclusive access." In gratitude for the exclusive access, Mandel is highly complimentary of the direction that Coach Rodriguez is taking the program. However, in the article, Mandel is critical of the previous coaching regime. Mandel writes, " All of which makes you wonder: If this new approach is really as shocking as Boren, Schilling and others have expressed, what kind of country club was Carr running all those years? And is that why Michigan, for all its considerable talent, has largely underachieved in the decade since its 1997 national championship, including six losses in seven years against Ohio State?" (emphasis added)

Mandel's "country club" comment was a cheap shot that is without basis in fact. It sounds as if Mandel might be grinding an axe regarding his lack of access to the team during the Carr-era. Coach Carr ran a tough program during his 13-year tenure as Head Coach of the Wolverines. Furthermore, contrary to Mandel's assertion, the program achieved great success in the decade (1998-2007) following the Wolverines National Championship of 1997.
In the 10 seasons following 1997, the Wolverines won the Big Ten title four (4) times and had a won/lost record of 94-32 (.746%). Also, Michigan won three consecutive New Year's Day bowl games during that era ('99 Citrus Bowl; '00 Orange Bowl; '01 Citrus Bowl). In fact, Michigan played in a bowl game every season during the past decade including three (3) Rose Bowl games. Michigan's five bowl victories in the past ten seasons equal the number of bowl victories achieved by Coach Schembechler during his 21-year head coaching career at Michigan.
Coach Rodriguez definitely is running a different style of program than did Coach Carr. Coach Rodriguez' style is also much more media-friendly. That does not mean, however, that Coach Carr ran a country club. As illustrated above, Coach Carr achieved great success in the decade following the National Championship season of 1997. I hope that the Wolverines can experience similar success under Coach Rodriguez. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Coach Carr from the 11/3/07 game vs. MSU by DAVID GURALNICK/The Detroit News

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The prodigal son returns to Riverview to be honored

Coach Carr is scheduled to return to his boyhood hometown of Riverview, Michigan on May 17, 2008 for the dedication of Lloyd Carr Park. Throughout his career, Coach Carr has always maintained close ties to his childhood community. May 17th, Lloyd Carr Day, is opening day for the Riverview Little League Baseball Association. There will be a parade that will wind up at the newly renovated baseball diamonds that will be re-christened "Lloyd Carr Park." Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Lloyd Carr (left) and friend Jessie Jenkins in their Riverview Community High School letter sweaters in a picture from their prep days in the early 1960s.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hot Dog Man -Michigan Stadium

Here is a video of "Hot Dog Man" Jay Trzcinski entertaining the crowd last season. Go Blue!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Ufer and Bo!

Both Bo and Ufer were born on April 1st and that is no joke. Bo was born 79 years ago today and Ufer was born 88 years ago this very day. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Bob Ufer (left) from; photo of Bo (right) from Bentley Historical Library.