Gone are the big lumbering defensive ends and linemen of the 2006 team that was ranked #1 in the country against the run. Don't get me wrong, they were great. Lamar Woodley and Alan Branch will be missed for their ability to plant a quarterback about 3 feet into the ground, but not for their agility. Both of their NFL stock dropped in the last 2 games last season because scouts saw how their size was now a drawback, and not an asset.
But what has been put in their place is a more agile and faster group of 7 talented players.
Maybe Lloyd has had enough of watching OSU and USC spread out our defense to be able to expose our biggest shortcoming. Whatever it was, the key is that those days are over. We still have good defensive linemen, and its not like they are small. But the speed has improved.
And lets not forget about the offense. That may be the biggest sign of the Lloyd Carr apocalypse. In the first depth chart of the season, there are 3 receiver spots listed. The newest receiver spot replaces the fullback position. And let me say that I am delighted about this. Its about time we finally embrace the talent and execution of our receiver corps. Lets not ignore the fullback, but lets be more open to a position that actually is allowed to touch the ball.
WR: Mario Manningham, Junior Hemingway
LT: Jake Long, Perry Dorrestein
LG: Adam Kraus, Tim McAvoy
C: Justin Boren, Tim McAvoy, David Moosman
RG: Jeremy Ciulla, Cory Zirbel, David Molk
RT: Steve Schilling OR Mark Ortmann
TE: Mike Massey, Chris McLaurin OR Andre Crisell
WR: Greg Matthews, Tony Clemons
WR: Adrian Arrington
QB: Chad Henne, Ryan Mallett
RB: Mike Hart, Brandon Minor, Avery Horn
DE: Tim Jamison, Adam Patterson
DT: Terrance Taylor, Brett Gallimore, Jason Kates
DT: Will Johnson, John Ferrara
DE: Brandon Graham, Greg Banks
SLB: Shawn Crable, Max Pollock, Marell Evans
MLB: John Thompson OR Obi Ezeh, Austin Panter
WLB: Chris Graham, Jonas Mouton OR Brandon Logan
LCB: Morgan Trent, Brandon Harrison, Troy Woolfolk
FS: Stevie Brown, Charles Stewart
SS: Jamar Adams, Brandent Englemon
RCB: Johnny Sears, Donovan Warren OR Doug Dutch
SPECIAL TEAMSK: Jason Gingell OR Bryan Wright, K.C. Lopata
KO: Bryan Wright, K.C. Lopata
LS: Sean Griffin, Brenden Lopez
HLD: Zoltan Mesko, Nick Sheridan
P: Zoltan Mesko, Ankit Kachhal
PR: Johnny Sears, Greg Mathews
KR: Brandon Minor, Johnny Sears
The offensive line has been a subject of much consideration this week leading up to Appalachian State. The left side of the line could be the best Michigan has ever had. I don't see any issues with Boren at center. But the right side of the line could be the weak link. The injury to Alex Mitchell will not be a problem in week 1, but weeks 2-12 are notably more challenging. His steady rehab and subsequent return are key for the Mike Hart and Chad Henne. Yeah Jake Long is great, blah blah blah...but it takes 5 good players to make a cohesive OL unit. Cuilla will replace Mitchell for the time being. We'll see how that goes.
Part of me really wants the halftime score in week 1 to be about 50-0. But I have been educated at the Lloyd Carr school of conservatism. But maybe the years are catching up with the old coach. Maybe its time to shed the old cap for a new fashionable Bob Stoops visor? Maybe its time to stop playing to win respectfully and start demoralizing. When's the last time we scored over 60 points? October 24, 1992 against Minnesota. Okay, thats a low blow. In 1997, the highest point total for the season was 38 points against the lowly Baylor Bears. And we all remember how that season ended. And I would also go out on a limb and say that this years offense is a tad more talented than that team.
Be all that as it may, this is game 1 of a long season. And while every team looks ahead to a successful year, except for maybe the Baylor Bears, lets not put the carriage in front of the horse.
One last thing I wish to address today is the total lack of respect for this Michigan team by the national media. Most notably, the turds on ESPN. And by turds, I mean Kirk a.k.a. "Herbie", "Interception a minute" Herbstreit. What a total waste of airtime. I just don't know how this guy keeps his job. Okay, you played for Ohio State, we get it. You love all things Buckeye. But as much as I'd love a former Michigan QB in the booth with you to keep you in your place, I'd be hard pressed to find one available, they're all in the NFL. Maybe we should just put Chris Hutchinson or Jason Horn or Trent Zenkewicz or Steve Morrison in the booth with him. They all got to know Kirk pretty will during his playing career.
But as much as despise him for being the obnoxious cock that he is, the only great thing he was ever able to do during his playing career was tie Michigan 13-13 in 1992. That game probably extended John Coopers career at least a few years, which of course led to a few more Michigan wins. So, thanks for that. But you can now fall off the face of the earth. And on your way down, please feel free to being Lee Corso, Lou Holtz, and Mark May with you.
No where in the media contract does it state that if Ohio State sucks this year, that Michigan will automatically suck too. Everyone is looking at Penn State and Wisconsin to be the teams to beat this year. But tell me, how many games has Wisonsin's QB ever started in college? And when is the last time Penn State ever lived up to the pre-season hype...or beaten Michigan? Yeah, thats what I thought.
See you all on Saturday in the Big House! Go Blue!