Appalachian State in Depth

Disclaimer: I know we did a brief preview of Appalachian State earlier this year, but I am going to try (and I mean try) to preview each team the week leading up to the game. Probably look for the preview post on Thursday or Friday each week.

This week's opponent will provide Michigan with a good look at the type of offense that has given them fits in the past few years (i.e. Ohio State). Appalachian State brings with them a very mobile and talented QB as well as a quick and agile RB. This is the type of offense that score very quickly. If the Michigan defense is going to be able to compete with the USC's and LSU's of the world, a solid performance against the Mountaineers is crucial.

Naturally a lesser quality opponent in the early non-conference schedule is usually a walk for a top 5 team like Michigan. Most fans are writing this game off as a easy win. But lets not forget Ball State from last year. You can guarantee the coaches with App. State are showing that game tape to their team this week. The longer you let a team like this stick around, the more they can believe they can pull off the shocker of the year. Don't forget, this team is the Div. 1 AA two-time national champion. They know how to win. And they know how to win well.

Like we said in our previous post previewing App. State, the fundamentals are so important in a game like this. No turnovers, no broken tackles, no blown coverages, special teams should be sharp. On paper, Michigan should win by 50. So the key will be for Michigan to play this game like its on paper. Stress your strengths, such as a dominating running game, and hopefully using the run to open up some play-action pass. We obviously have the size and speed advantage offensively, our receivers are maybe the best group in the past couple years, and they have the potential to be the best ever.

I think App. State will have a really tough time trying to cover 3, potentially 4 really fast and really tall WRs that Michigan could come out with. Our line won't have too much trouble winning the line of scrimmage. Like most 1AA teams, defensive size and speed simply can not compete with a team like Michigan. What I look for, not only in this game, but hopefully in many games this season, is for Michigan to get out to a quick 2 or 3 touchdown lead early...and try and demoralize the opponent. With a young and untested defense, that may be the winning strategy, at least early in the season.

Defensively, our youth in key positions could pose a problem. Our DB's are relatively untested. And the linebackers could be exposed with a mobile QB. The previews of this Michigan team say our youth could be a shortcoming, but what we lack in experience, we more than make up for in speed. Frankly, there's something there that makes me feel good actually. Michigan has shown that we can keep up with a juggernaught like OSU offensively, but when our D is on the field, we can not seem to find an answer for their mobile QB/RB/WR spread attack. In this time of the modern spread offense, I'll take a quick defense rather than a smash-mouth run-stopping one.

The bulk of the scoring for this game should quickly be shored up by mid-3rd quarter. I'd love to see guys like Mallet and a few more RB's get some time on the field. We're decidedly shallow in a few key positions, so some extra PT for a few 2nd and 3rd stringers would go a long way.

Forecast: Sunny and about 80 degrees. Light winds. 10% chance of rain. Perfect.

GET UP AND GET LOUD!















The Wednesday evening link-a-thon continues with a post from The M Zone regarding the presence of jingling keys on "key plays" and the lack of noise from Michigan fans.

I will be at the opener this Saturday. It will be the 27th game at the Big House. And since I first started going to games there in 1992, the stadium has gotten quieter and quieter over the years. I'm not sure why, but it seems that fans just aren't as apt to stand up and cheer, or at least make noise to give the defense an advantage in key play situations.

As a former player in high school, I can tell you that as an offensive lineman, a hostile crowd can be a big distraction. Hearing the play count, the cadence, etc...are very difficult if you're in a loud stadium. The key is when you're trying so hard to focus in on the play count, or audible...and the crowd is going crazy, you can easily lose concentration on what your job is on that play.

But on the flipside, if you're on defense and your home crowd is deafening, its a huge, huge rush. The adrenalin is flowing. You know the offense is rattled. Its a huge boost to your confidence.

So I will join the bandwagon with other UM bloggers and please ask all true blue fans at the games this year to get off your butt and make some noise. It makes a difference. Trust me.

But don't take just my word for it, even Michigan RB Mike Hart weighed in on this issue:
"That's when you need the stadium," he said. "That's the one thing we really need to do this year as fans, as everyone - make it extra hard for teams coming in here. Show them it's not the same Big House. It needs to be a lot crazier."
LSU, Oregon, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Florida, Texas...all of them are smaller then Michigan Stadium, yet all of the them have a reputation of being a lot louder than the Big House. And those were just off the top of my head.

There has been the argument of the stadium design that isn't conducive to making the crowd any louder. But even though the Big House in an open-dome design with no reflecting surfaces to bounce the sound back to the field, doesn't make a difference when the ones supposed to be making the noise simply just don't. Rattling keys and slo-mo waves are cute...but they have no effect on the outcome of a game.

Screaming at the top on your lungs and cheering loud for your team actually do make a difference. So, if you find yourself at the Big House this fall and you get the feeling that a big defensive play is crucial to the success of the team, then please please please, from one Michigan fan to another...GET UP AND GET LOUD!

GO BLUE!

Twas the Night Before Football...

I read this today on Maize & Brew, and couldn't help but repost it. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Football, and all through the land
No man was sleeping, and some were just canned.
The jerseys and t-shirts awaited their wear,
With the knowledge that Football, soon would be there.

The coolers were packed full of bratwurst and beer,
The weather channel reported the skies would be clear.
Now it was fall and the wind had a chill,
For throwing a football and burgers on the grill.



Preseason rankings had all been released,
As usual Duke's chances had been pre-deceased.
LSU was picked to take the SEC and run,
while South Carolina's safety was wielding a gun.

Notre Dame's star recruit was surprisingly frail,
and their DT got busted for propositioning some tail.
In Champaign they're getting better all of the time,
But someone should tell the Illini stealin's a crime.



On flipped the tube and there's Musberger's face!
"What a season we've got! It'll be quite a race!"
Ole' Brent looked quite parched, as he searched for a brew,
After slamming one down, "It's College Football anew!"



"Now Texas! now, Georgia! now, Michigan and Clemson!
On, Oregon! On, Utah! on, on California and Wisconsin!
USC is unbeatable, that's just what we're thinkin'!
There's football to play and our predictions could be stinkin'"

Carr grumbled something and Tressel stole a boat,
Les Miles was trying to jam his foot down his throat.
Mack Brown got PAID and Carroll set his goal,
and Mandel finally realized, Weis is an a-hole.

Above it all stood Myles Brand's greed,
And lest we forget, all that SEC speed.
Out West "Dorrell Sucks!" is the standard student cheer,
Unfortunately it's coming from the sideline that's near.

The Big XII seems to be only a single division,
If you think Nebraska will change it, that thinkin's a wishin'.
Saban took a job no one cared for,
Only time will tell if his decision was poor.



Joe Pa returns and Bowden's under the gun
But which one was smart enough to jettison his son?
Erickson takes the reigns at Arizona State,
Oh the coke parties and hookers, really, you wait.

All the off season nonsense finally comes to a close.
No more stories about change and hair in corn rows.
Recruiting goes cold if, for only a while,
Because there's football to play and that business is vile.

The Big East wants respect, the Big Ten validation,
The SEC another crown, and the Pac 10 attention.
The Big XII wants to prove it's more than two teams,
And Boise and Hawaii have BCS dreams.



But now everyone's tied, nothin and nothin.
Every team's got some hope that this year will be somethin.
Ole Miss and LSU should be up in a row,
For tomorrow in Oxford, the season's a go.

But tonight rest well, your sleep you will need,
Your hunger for College Football, tomorrow will feed.
As I turned off the tube, I saw Brent in my sight,
"College Football to all, and to all a good-night!"

Scot Loeffler's Top 25













"I Will prepare, and one day, my chance will come"
-Abraham Lincoln

Yes it will Ryan, yes it will.

The staff here at Scott Loeffler Inc. (all one of us, and not Scott Loeffler) are about as tickled pink as we could be that in 4 days the gates of the Big House will open once again for yet another season of Meeechigan football.

So, here I give you the inaugural pre-season top 25:

1. Michigan
2. LSU
3. USC
4. Texas
5. West Virginia
6. Florida
7. Virginia Tech
8. Oklahoma
9. Wisconsin
10. UCLA
11. Louisville
12. California
13. Nebraska
14. Georgia
15. Auburn
16. Florida State
17. Tennessee
18. Arkansas
19. Boston College
20. Ohio State
21. Penn State
22. Texas A&M
23. Rutgers
24. Boise State
25. Wake Forest

Okay, I am going all homer on you with the #1 nod going to the maize and blue, but what else would you expect. But to back up that claim, I give you Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Jake Long. Enough said.

While I don't assume to have much knowledge about the rest of the country, I can simply say that, in the Big Ten...Michigan stands heads above the rest of the competition. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin will be likely contenders, thats about the extent of which they will be viewed this year. Ohio State simply can not loose that much talent on offense and expect to compete.

The hype around USC is nuts. I see them after week 2 at 1-1. And no, they won't lose to Idaho. But Lincoln has to be one of the toughest places to play. And in primetime on national TV...can anyone say UCLA?

Hence why I think UCLA could be a sleeper in the Pac-10. They benefit from a weak conference and an ideal non-conf. schedule.

LSU is for real. And they will take Florida out early, and likely again in the SEC Championship. I see them in New Orleans in January. New QB though...so watch out for that.

The rest of the rankings are really a formality. I will of course eat those words in November when non of my top 5 are ranked up that far anymore. But thats another post for another time.

Speed Drills

Somewhere midst the humidity and heat of Ann Arbor in the summer, Lloyd Carr took a good long look at his roster, wiped the sweat from his brow, and had an epiphany. He noticed one key feature on both sides of the ball:

Speed.

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.

OFFENSE

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

DEFENSE

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 TEAMS

K: 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!

Cody Paul

Just came across this little highlight video that makes the McGuffie reel look like ham and eggs.

For your consideration: Cody Paul in his 12-year old Pee-Wee football league. WOW!