Hoke: Toussaint and Clark Will Not Make Trip to Dallas

Via UM media relations:
Statement from Head Coach Brady Hoke on running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark:
"Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark have been suspended for one game and will not make the trip to Dallas for Saturday's game.
"The decision was not easy, but I feel it is in the best interest of this program and for these kids, and those always will be my priorities.  We have choices every day, and you have to be accountable to this program, your teammates, your family and the University of Michigan.
"These are our sons.  These are real lives, and I think too often many people forget that.  It's not always just about football, or a football decision.  It's about teaching life lessons, and if this helps these kids or someone else make a right decision later, then we've won.  That is ultimately what we are here for, to help them grow and mature to become better sons, fathers, husbands and members of society.
"They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family." 
Well, now we know. A 1-game suspension seems fair. My take? Bravo to Hoke for making the tough, but ultimately right call.

Related content:

Alabama Preview

#8/8 MICHIGAN vs. #2/2 ALABAMA
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
September 1, 2012, 8:00 PM

TV: ABC-National (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 86 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: ALA -13.5
O/U: 45.5
Series Record: UM leads 2-1
Last Meeting: 2000 Orange Bowl: MICH 35 - ALA 34 (OT)
UM Record/Rank: 0-0 (0-0), #8/8
ALA Record/Rank: 0-0 (0-0, #2/2
Gametime Forecast: Indoors

Game logo? Game logo.

Relevant links from sites we trust
The magic number for Michigan to beat Alabama is 24 (The Wolverine $). SI's breakdown of Alabama is a good primer for Joe 6-pack (Michigan's too). MGoBlog Preview. BWS Preview. Holdin' the Rope Preview. MaizeNBrew Preview. Big House Blog Preview. MGoBlog FFFF. Tremendous One Key. MZone Know Your Foe. MVictors This week in Michigan football history.

MGoAce broke down Bama's schemage beautifully yesterday...
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style. Alabama mostly operates from under center, usually with either a fullback/H-back or second tight end on the field.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Though the Crimson Tide offense operates in the spirit of MANBALL, they actually utilize a lot of zone blocking—the inside and outside zones are staples of their offense.
Base Set? 3-4, though they'll often have a fourth defender with his hand down; this is a defense that isn't afraid to show several different looks over the course of a game.
Man or zone coverage? Zone. Saban's favorite coverage is the Cover 1 Robber. Normally the Cover 1 is a man-to-man defense with one deep safety; Alabama adds an underneath zone—the "robber"—and has their defensive backs play "pattern reading" zones—think of it as a matchup zone in basketball, with DBs reading the route patterns on the fly and sticking close to receivers who come through their area instead of dropping to a particular spot. They'll also mix in Cover 2, Cover 3, and a little man-to-man.
When Michigan has the ball
Alabama gets a ton of credit for their dominating defense. While, yes, I do agree that they were amazing last year, they only return 4 starters. The big question mark is can this talented, but inexperienced as a group – gel fast enough to stop one of the most prolific play makers in college football?

Let's get straight to the point. I don't think Fitz plays in this game. Hoke has been keeping his decision to himself throughout fall camp, which has been driving everyone crazy. You could call that gamesmanship, call it whatever you want, I still don't think he plays. We'll find out at 7PM central time on Saturday.

Do I think he should? No. He made a very bad decision and he need to be held accountable. I think Hoke is doing just that. It's the right call, even though it will negatively impact Michigan's offense, it's the right call.

So that leaves guys like Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Stephen Hopkins and Justice Hayes to lead the rushing attack. Obviously there's some competent backs there, but no one who has shown they can carry the load like Fitz can. This will be a big challenge for Michigan.

I suspect as well that Denard will be asked to do more with his legs without #28 lining up behind or next to him.

Alabama loses a lot of big time talent up front going into this season. Gone are DT Josh Chapman, a trio of All-American LBs – Dont'a Hightower, Jarrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw. 5-star recruit Trey DePriest will replace Hightower as the signal-caller at MLB. Also at LB will be junior CJ Mosley who was a standout last year in their nickel package.

I do think if you're going to play Alabama, you want to play them early. Yes, Alabama has reloaded with simply great talent at almost every vacancy, but they are inexperienced as a group. This can only be seen as a potential advantage for a Michigan offense that returns the bulk of the yardage output from last year and 5 experienced guys along the O line.

Speaking of the line. Keep an eye on center Ricky Barnum. The converted guard has some big shoes to fill, but from what we're hearing, he's done well so far. This is the first time he's ever played center in his career. Guards Patrick Omameh and Elliot Mealer should do fine, as should tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. For all of the credit Alabama's O-Line gets, Michigan's ain't no slouch – well, the starting line anyway.

An area of concern for Michigan as well as Alabama is the Michigan passing game. Denard has had less-than-great moments throwing the ball, which can drive Michigan fans crazy, but he's still a senior QB with a ton of big game exposure. Plus his ability to turn nothing into 6 points is something not many teams, Alabama included, have ever really seen before.

Lack of experience abounds on both sides of the ball, however. Michigan needs Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon and TE Brandon Moore to step up big time. I think Jeremy Jackson could make a splash in 2012, hopefully starting with this game. Drew Dileo can be valuable in games like this as well simply because he's fast and has good hands.

For Alabama, they lose a ton of talent in the defensive backfield. Both cornerbacks, All-American Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie are gone. All-American FS Mark Barron is gone as well. Senior SS Robert Lester has shifted over to FS for 2012. Expect Borges to test the new guys early and often.

When Alabama has the ball
Welp, this is where things get tougher.

We've heard so much about Alabama's offensive line. Yes, they're good, they're big and they're experienced. Michigan will not face a tougher group the rest of the season. Mattison has stacked as much beef as he can up front as he can to take them on. From strong to weakside...Craig Roh, Quinton Washington, Will Campbell and Jibreel Black...with Washington playing the nose.

That front 4 leads me to think some new wrinkles and schemes could be in store for the other 7 defenders on the field. But Alabama is all about ground-and-pound. They want to beat you into submission with the ground game, because they can. My only hope is that we can keep some sort of regular rotation of players throughout the game. That, and hopefully the offense can spare the defense a with some long drives.

Alabama will miss Trent Richardson, but guys like Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler will look to pick up where Richardson left off. Lacy was a very good alternative to Richardson last year. He can move.

AJ McCarron isn't the greatest QB in the world, but his arm is good and he can run the offense the way it needs to be run. Alabama is a run-first offense...no question about it.

If there's a bright spot for Michigan, it's that Alabama's receivers are about as big of a question mark as Michigan's. 2012's 4 leading receivers, including Marquise Maze and TE Brad Smelley are gone. From what I've read, none of the top guys coming back were really able to separate themselves in spring camp, so the start of 2012 will be an audition of sorts for guys like Kenny Bell, Christion Jones, DeAndrew White and Kevin Norwood. Watch out for Michael Williams at tight end though.

Special teams
For Alabama, Jeremy Shelley is the returning place kicker. He knocked in 21 of 27 kicks last year, and 52 of 54 PATs. McCarron is the holder, btw. Cody Mandell is the returning starter at punter. He averaged 39.3 yards per punt last year. Marquis Maze was the key return man for Bama last year, but he's gone. Taking his place on punt returns is Christion Jones and Dee Hart, and on kick returns is Jones and Dee Millner.

Will Hagerup or Matt Wile will start at punter for Michigan, the only 'or' on Michigan's depth chart. Wile will handle kickoffs. Brendan Gibbons returns to handle placing-kicking duties after cementing his place in Michigan lore in the Sugar Bowl in January. Kick returns will be handled by Josh Furman(!) and true-freshman Dennis Norfleet (!!). Norfleet will back up Jeremy Gallon on punt return duties. Those exclamation points are there to express excitement, not concern.

Make boisterous comments on Twitter if...
• Denard is completing passes to guys wearing the same color jersey as him.
• 3rd down isn't an obvious passing down.
• You know the name of Alabama's punter by halftime.
• Brent Musburger says 'Denard' and 'Heisman' in the same sentence more than once.

Cancel recording on your DVR if...
• Eddie Lacy reminds you of Trent Richardson.
• Alabama's receivers are doing their best DeVier Posey impression on our DBs.
• You can't remember the last time Michigan had the ball.
• Kirk Herbstreit can't stop giggling.

Alabama 24 - Michigan 13

Related MBN content:

Thursday Lowdown is Only 38% Ready For College Football

Heads up: Our full Alabama preview will be posted later this afternoon.

First and foremost...
Grantland: Q&A Brady Hoke
In the week leading up Saturday's start of college football, there's a lot of x's and o's being talked about...breaking down of offenses and defenses, but what really peaked my interest is this Q&A with Brady Hoke which touches on a lot of non-football topics, and shows everyone a side of Hoke you won't typically see.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never planned on being a coach. Even when I graduated college, it wasn't on my radar. At Ball State, I was a criminal justice major, and I had done an internship with the federal probation and parole office out of the Southern District of Indiana, and had really enjoyed that. My real dream was to become a Secret Service agent. President Reagan had been shot in March of '81, and from that moment on, I felt like it was my duty to protect the president of the United States.
I love that.

MLive: Michigan awards scholarships to 7 walk-ons during 'wild' team meeting
File this one under feel-good preseason news.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke called seven players to the front of the team's Schembechler Hall meeting room before Tuesday's practice.

Those guys had no idea what would come next: Scholarships.

Nathan Brink, Joey Burzynski, Jareth Glanda, Paul Gyarmati, Mike Kwiatkowski, Joe Reynolds and Steve Wilson are no longer walk-ons.

"(Hoke) called those guys to the front, and we were all like, 'Man, what's going on?'" senior cornerback J.T. Floyd said. "Then he announced the news, and that's when the team meeting room erupted. It was bananas in there. Everybody was just high-fiving each other, smiling. The whole team poured down in the front. It was great, man. It was great.
 ESPN Poll: Which season are you most looking forward to?

Clearly, 62% of Americans are just not right in the head. Pennsylvania gets a pass though.

Deadspin: Bristolmetrics: ESPN loves Urban Meyer, and the feeling is mutual
More shocked, I could not be.
What has seemed odd, though, is the amount of time ESPN has allotted to covering Meyer's first year with the Buckeyes. Even with college football getting SportsCenter's airtime table scraps, Ohio State received nearly half (9.5 out of 19.5 minutes) of the college football coverage this week. Almost all of the coverage was part of the network's Hard Knocks-style show that's being pimped on multiple platforms, titled Ohio State All-Access. Here's a sample, for reference.

Yes, Meyer is already one of the most successful college coaches of all time, and his being a former ESPN employee shouldn't stop the network from devoting its attention to a legitimately intriguing storyline for the 2012 season. But the extent to which they are covering Meyer and the exclusive access they've been given can't help but raise eyebrows.
SBNation: Alabama-Michigan & More: Shutdown Fullback Week 1 [YouTube]
This is why the terrorists hate us. Love the new format though.

ESPN: Allen Pinkett: Irish bans give 'edge'
Not really sure what that headline means, but basically Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett thinks the recent suspension of 4 ND players has given the team an 'edge'. Cue message board explosion in 3..2..1..
"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team," Pinkett said on WSCR-AM 670. "That's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals and that just adds to the chemistry of the team. I think Notre Dame is growing because maybe they have some guys that are doing something worthy of a suspension which creates edge on the football team.

"You can't have a football team full of choir boys. You get your butt kicked if you've got a team full of choir boys so you've got to have a little bit of edge. But the coach has to be the dictator and the ultimate ruler. Here's my opinion: You don't hand out suspensions unless you know you've got somebody behind that guy that can make plays."
Interesting take. And I get what he's going for, but its sometimes always best to just keep your mouth shut. Later in the same show, he didn't back off from his initial thoughts. But afterwards, once the story get legs, he backed off. Hence the statement released last night.
"It's clear that I chose my words poorly and that an apology is in order for these inappropriate comments. My words do not reflect the strong pride and passion I have for the Notre Dame football program," the statement said. 
Assorted Bits
Last night on Twitter I dove into what Michigan's record is versus singular mascot teams (i.e. Crimson Tide – teams who's mascot doesn't end with an 's' or isn't plural). There was some discussion about what is singular and what isn't, but ultimately it was decided that UM's record is 115-51-5 all-time against Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford, Harvard, Tulane, Illinois, Syracuse and NC State – teams who's mascot is not plural. Tip of the cap to @cdbarker for his help.

The UM Band visited practice yesterday. The first Inside Michigan Football with Brady Hoke aired last night live from Pizza House in Ann Arbor. SI.com's CFB writers break out their 2012 crystal ball. Countdown to kickoff: Day 2 features OL coach Darrell Funk.

Alabama Preview: Statistical Breakdown

Obvious disclaimer: All of these numbers and rankings are based off of 2011 final stats.

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)ALABAMAADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)221.85 (13)72.15 (1)Rushing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Passing Offense (ypg)182.85 (93)111.46 (1)Passing Defense (ypg)A+++
Pass Eff. Offense139.20 (40)83.69 (1)Pass Eff. DefenseA
Total Offense (ypg)404.69 (42)183.62 (1)Total Defense (ypg)A++
Scoring Offense (ppg)33.31 (26)8.15 (1)Scoring Defense (ppg)A
Rushing Defense (ypg)131.69 (39)214.46 (16)Rushing Offense (ypg)A
Passing Defense (ypg)190.46 (16)215.15 (69)Passing Offense (ypg)M+
Pass Eff. Defense120.49 (36)142.52 (35)Pass Eff. OffensePUSH
Total Defense (ypg)322.15 (17)429.62 (31)Total Offense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Defense (ppg)17.38 (6)34.85 (20)Scoring Offense (ppg)PUSH
Net Punting Yards33.41 (109)13.00 (14)Punt Return YardsA+++
Punt Return Yards9.00 (53)36.49 (60)Net Punting YardsPUSH
Kickoff Return Yards18.43 (117)21.68 (61)Kickoff Return DefenseA+
Kickoff Return Defense21.44 (56)24.90 (19)Kickoff Return YardsA
Turnover Margin.54 (25).62 (23)Turnover MarginPUSH
Penalty Yds /Gm35.2 (5)28.40 (2)Penalty Yds /GmPUSH
Sacks /Gm2.31 (29)1.31 (26)Sacks Allowed /GmPUSH
Sacks Allowed /Gm1.38 (33)2.31 (29)Sacks /GmPUSH
Redzone Off. (%)84.48 (45)58.82 (1)Redzone Def. (%)A++
Redzone Def. (%)68.29 (3)87.93 (21)Redzone Off. (%)PUSH
Redzone TD %63.79 (40)35.29 (1)Redzone TD Def. %A
Redzone TD Def. %51.21 (24)55.17 (91)Redzone TD %M++
3rd Down Conv. %47.02 (16)26.46 (1)3rd Down Def. %PUSH
3rd Down Def. %36.42 (36)46.43 (19)3rd Down Conv. %PUSH
1st Downs /Gm20.80 (50)10.10 (1)1st Downs Allowed /GmA++
1st Downs Allowed /Gm17.20 (17)21.50 (37)1st Downs /GmM

Difference < 20 in national rank = Push
Difference > 20 in national rank = Team
Difference > 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference > 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference > 80 in national rank = Team+++

D ROBINSON132581425521738.42015139.7319.8167.2
D GARDNER9231147.81767.711117.762.619.6
A MCCARRON1332821966.826348.0165147.2725.2202.6
P ELY0000.00000000

Couple things to note about the quarterbacks, obviously we all know by now that Devin Gardner is a pretty legit QB, and suddenly now a WR...and will surely see the field Saturday night at that position before he does at quarterback...at least he better. However, should Denard get hurt, I suspect Gardner will shift to QB. If he doesn't, expect 3rd stringer Russell Bellomy to step in. I left him off the list because he has no game experience to speak of.

For Alabama, backup Phillip Sims who was beat out last year for the starting gig by AJ McCarron, transferred to Virginia this off-season. So red-shirt freshman Phillip Ely is the only other starting QB on scholarship at Alabama at the moment. I'm a little surprised this isn't a bigger deal...you don't hear much talk about this.

Running Backs
D ROBINSON1322111765.32161790.5
F TOUSSAINT1218710415.6915.5886.8
V SMITH13502986.023.8522.9
T RAWLS1013796.101.307.9
E LACY12956747.0977.9256.17
J FOWLER13563856.8844.3129.62
B SIMS5221074.8604.4021.40

Alabama has to replace Doak Walker Award winner Trent Richardson at RB. Last year he compiled 1679 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. They have more than capable backs willing to do just that. But the bigger asset to Alabama's running game is not the backs, but the line blocking for them. That group rivals some NFL teams.

Highly touted freshman Dee Hart who picked Alabama over Michigan (after verbally committing to UM), is listed third on Alabama's depth chart. He suffered a season-ending torn ACL last year.

For Michigan, rumors abound about the fate of Fitzgerald Toussaint for this game. My gut tells me he's not going to play, even though he's listed #1 on the depth chart. Official depth charts have proven to be less and less meaningful over the years, often not even done by the head coach.

J GALLON133145314.632.434.8
R ROUNDTREE131935518.721.527.3
V SMITH131114913.520.811.5
D DILEO12912113.420.810.1
J JACKSON1333612.000.22.8
K BELL131725515.0021.319.6
M WILLIAMS131619111.9421.214.7
K NORWOOD111119017.7201.017.3
D WHITE121415110.7921.212.6
E LACY121113111.9100.910.9

We all know the receiving issues at hand for Michigan going into 2012. With Junior Hemingway gone, and Roundtree's less-than-stellar junior season, there are many guys who should and need to step up, including Roundtree. I'll address this further in tomorrow's preview.

For Alabama, not a lot of experienced guys returning. Marquise Maze, Brad Smelley and Trent Richardson led the serviceable passing game for Alabama last year...they're all gone. Kenny Bell is probably the biggest go-to guy, but coming out of spring ball, none of these guys were exceptional. Passing and receiving is not the strength of Saban's offense.

Much more coming tomorrow in our full preview.

Related content:

Wednesday Lowdown is Suddenly Second in All-Time Winning Percentage

As we speed closer toward gameday, gooey football bits are plentiful. Thus, today's lowdown is rife with game week stories.

Alabama will show where Michigan stands
Bob Wojnowski is a staple in the Detroit sports media world. His latest Detroit News piece takes a really good look at Michigan heading into maybe the biggest test of a program that they've had in years. He also takes a look at the status of running back Fitz Toussaint for Saturday.
Whether undermanned, undersized or slightly overlooked, the Wolverines will get a chance to show where they stand. Hoke is returning a program to its power-football roots, and this monstrous clash should help reveal the scope of the task.
We didn't delve into the depth-chart much around here. I'm not really sure why. Luckily Maize & Blue News did.
The Michigan depth chart can be a mysterious creation. During Lloyd Carr’s time as head coach, when asked why a player appeared at a particular spot on the depth chart, he often quipped that it was because former media relations staff member Jim Schneider had placed him there.
Denard Robinson, Heisman Trophy winner and national champion? Book it, Wolverines
I have upgraded my prediction from the summer. Michigan is going 14-0. The Wolverines will be national champions this year.
To quote Maize & Brew's Zach Travis...
I'll have what he's having.
It's Kool-aid. He's drinking lots and lots of Kool-aid.
SI college football columnist Stewart Mandel takes a broad view of the events of the off-season and how they will impact the sport moving forward.
A year ago this week, Joe Paterno was beginning the 46th season of his Penn State career, his biggest concern seemingly his underperforming quarterbacks. Who could have foreseen Paterno being fired before season's end, his reputation sullied for failing to stop a sickening child predator who roamed the Penn State locker room? By January Paterno had passed away; last month Penn State, one of the four remaining BCS programs to never have committed a major NCAA violation, received the stiffest NCAA sanctions since SMU.

On a lighter note, LSU beat Oregon that first Saturday night en route to a perfect regular season and berth in the BCS championship game. That wasn't entirely surprising. The fact that LSU and Alabama staged a rematch of their regular-season meeting two months later, however, was entirely unprecedented and unpopular.

Oh, and over the summer college football adopted a playoff. That really happened.

Within the span of 12 months, the aforementioned events redefined history and fundamentally altered the sport. And that doesn't include a whole bunch of other changes that in most years would have been deemed hugely notable.
The Blockhams: Turn Back the Tide Wallpapers
If you don't follow "The Blockhams", the Michigan-themed internet comic centered around a family of die-hard Michigan fans, then you're simply missing out. Check them out and get the wallpaper!

I Love You Denard [YouTube]

This video has been pasted all over the internet these last couple days. It's quirky, probably made Denard feel a little uncomfortable, but ultimately, it was well made and it's fun...so what's wrong with that? When I first watched it, I must have missed this, but the framed photo of Denard at around the 1:16 mark looked very familiar to me.

Now, I don't care at all that my photo was used. I mark every photo I upload to Flickr with an attribution license. There was no attribution, but I'll let it slide just as long as I get a cameo in Pat's next video.

Fan Film Breakdown: Say Roll Tide, I'll Give You Another Piece of Ice
Warning: Southern language

The MZone's new feature of showcasing homemade fan videos from Michigan's opponents is something the internet so desperately needs. Roll Tide grandma is wrong on so many levels.

Packers star bashes NFL's replacement refs
Well, first of all...the 'Packers star' is Charles Woodson. Second, he didn't so much as bash the refs as much as he simply told it like it is from the perspective of an all-pro who's spent 15 years in the league.
"They haven't been very good," said Woodson. "That's the honest opinion. Before preseason started, I think you're optimistic. But it's almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes too fast for them.

"Now, could they go through a season and get better? Sure. But there's going to be a lot of bad officiating going on until they catch up to the speed of the game."
NCAA Division 1 FBS football win-loss records [Wikipedia]
Today I learned...based purely on percentage, Michigan has fallen to #2 all-time in the football bowl subdivision since the addition of South Alabama for the 2013-14 season.
Team Won Lost Tied Pct. Years Total Games Conference
South Alabama 23 4 0 .8519 3 27 Sun Belt
Michigan 895 310 36 .7357 132 1241 Big Ten
Notre Dame 853 300 42 .7314 123 1195 Independent
Boise State 377 146 2 .7200 44 525 Mountain West
Oklahoma 821 307 53 .7176 117 1181 Big 12
Texas 858 330 33 .7162 119 1221 Big 12
Ohio State 1 825 316 53 .7131 122 1194 Big Ten
Alabama 2 814 320 43 .7099 117 1177 SEC
Southern California 3 779 313 54 .7033 118 1146 PAC 12
Nebraska 846 349 40 .7012 122 1235 Big Ten


Breaking Down the B1G: Week 1

We started doing this last year and it was pretty fun, so we're doing it again. Each week we'll breakdown the B1G schedule and talk about interesting games.

All times eastern. My picks in bold.

August 30th:
Minnesota @ UNLV
11PM - CBS Sports Network

Friday, August 31st:
#24/22 Boise State @ #13/13 Michigan State

Saturday, September 1st:
Western Michigan @ Illinois
Noon - ESPNU

Indiana State @ Indiana

Northern Illinois vs. Iowa (@ Chicago, IL)
3:30PM - ESPNU

#2/2 Alabama vs #8/8 Michigan (@ Arlington, TX)

Southern Miss @ #17/16 Nebraska
3:30PM - ABC/ESPN2

Northwestern @ Syracuse
Noon - ESPN2

Miami (OH) @ #18/- Ohio State
Noon - BTN

Ohio @ Penn State
Noon - ESPN

Eastern Kentucky @ Purdue
3:30PM - BTN

Northern Iowa @ #12/12 Wisconsin
3:30PM - BTN

Biggest must-watch:
This goes without saying. Widely considered to be one of the top, if not the top non-conference game in 2012, Michigan against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium gets top billing in week 1 with the 8PM ABC prime time slot and College Gameday on hand. Most analysts predict a victory for Alabama, but that won't stop folks from tuning in.

Upset Alert!
I'm putting the Michigan/Alabama game in this category also. The bulk of the country has already written Michigan off on this one, but is still going to be pulling for them. The SEC is hated everywhere except states that are typically red for every presidential election. I can assure you that most Alabama fans are as confident as ever going into this one. I don't blame them, but hopefully some of that over-confidence has spilled over to the team. Hopefully.

I'd also watch out for Iowa against Northern Illinois in Chicago. I feel like Iowa is headed into one of those Kirk Ferentz funks where Iowa struggles to make it over .500.

Snoozer of the week:
If you're flipping over to BTN at 8PM this Saturday for ANY reason, simply leave this blog right now and never return.

Bold predictions!
If pushed up against a wall by someone much larger than myself and forced to make a prediction, I'd pick Alabama. Why? Because I look at numbers and make decisions based off of them. I certainly don't consider myself a guru or an authority on the matter. And in this instance, would loved to proven wrong. But my gut tells me that opening the season with so many questions against a team which we really don't match up well against probably isn't going to bode well.

Although, Alabama isn't exactly going to be playing at the same level they were at the end of last season. There are questions on their side of the ball as well. If Michigan can keep it a one-score game going into the 4th quarter, with Denard at QB, then all bets are off.

As for the rest of the league, a few interesting games. All eyes will be on Urban Meyer and his debut in Columbus. They should win by 30 points. Ohio at Penn State is intriguing simply because of all of the off-the-field issues PSU has had to endure this off-season. 

Boise State at Michigan State is must-see-TV on Friday night. I think Sparty rolls against a young and untested Boise State squad. This is just the first of many big games in East Lansing in the first 1/3 of the season. That place should be rocking.

The majority of the rest of the B1G games are either snoozers or will be over by halftime.

Hype Videos: We Has Them

So it's hype videos that you crave? This ought to satisfy.

Official Michigan-Alabama hype video via the mothership

Not much of a hype video, but can't a man profess his love for a superstar quarterback without it getting all weird. You be the judge. Nice use of Zach Novak and notable Michigan internet stars in this video too, btw. Also, HUGE bonus points for the use of a certain photo at 1:17 which I snapped of Denard after the Nebraska game last year.

2012 hype video...fergodsakes

This one might be my favorite. +1 for good use of former Heisman winners.

This is actually the video played at Michigan Stadium prior to the 2011 Ohio State game. (Goosebump-inducing live version here)

Another 2012 hype video...fergodsakes

Fitz's run at 2:20 makes this one worth watching

One more for good measure. This one makes good use of 2011 defensive highlights

Know of any other great 2012 hype videos? Post links in the comments.

Monday Lowdown is Getting to Games Earlier From Now On

It's game week! The count of open tabs on my browser is out of control. Firefox is holding tough though. #bloggerproblems

Lay The Wood - 2012 Game 1

The Art. The Art. The Art. They make game-specific Michigan football wallpapers. They are a must for anyone who calls themselves a fan and owns a computer.

University of Michigan athletics launches new student loyalty program for 2012-13 season
Last year's 8 home games (including 5 in a row to start the season) was a grind for the student section. Showing up on time for a nooner proved to be too much for many of them by the time September was drawing to a close.
3:03 til kickoff. The die-hards.
UofM has been so informed, thus the creation of a new loyalty program aimed at getting student's butt's in seats earlier.
The new program will award a student two loyalty points for each non-revenue sporting event they attend. Students attending revenue sports, like football, won't get two loyalty points unless they're early to games.

"In order to get full two points [at revenue sporting events] you have to at least check-in 20 minutes before game time," athletic department marketer Angela Thick told AnnArbor.com.

The HAIL rewards scale:
  • 12 points: A Michigan shirt worth $10.
  • 25 points: $5 'blue bucks' deposited directly in students' U-M account.
  • 50 points: Adidas shirt and bag
  • 80 points: Students get $100 in a Flagstar Bank checking account. They also get a Victors Club priority point, which can be use for priority standing when obtaining football or basketball tickets.
  • 100 points: Students receive an invitation to a private athletic department event and get entered to win one of three grand prizes. One grand prize includes season tickets to football, basketball and hockey games for one student. Another grand prize is a $2,000 cash award and another is a two roundtrip airline tickets.
  • The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.
Not everyone is so optimistic.
A student loyalty program should  be based on ticket scans and determine priority for next year's seating and and bowl/NCAA lotteries plus involve a number of Victors Club points worthwhile enough to pursue. Those who can't show up on time at all should not get tickets that could go to better-paying and plain better fans. The above plan is a nice bonus for kids who are already fanatics but completely fails to address the major issue. 
Ohio State Football: Pre Game Quick Cals [YouTube]
Michigan isn't the only athletic department looking at getting students to games earlier. Ohio State is offering the extremely rare opportunity for students to clap and grunt along with the strength and conditioning coach.

Practice Items: Devins Will Catch
MGoBlog was able to sit in on the invitation-only practice at Michigan Stadium on Saturday. As expected, notes were taken.
The biggest takeaway. Devin Gardner took zero QB snaps and was on the first team as a WR. I think they moved him full-time. Swingin' for the fences. 
No Thomas Rawls at the practice. This is mildly alarming.

Also noted was Quinton Washington going with the 1's. Initial reports from multiple sources saying that the starting DL is Roh-Washington-Campbell-Black. Okay then.

Notre Dame suspends RB Wood
...for 2 games. DE Justin Utupo suspended  for 2 games as well. The bigger story here – Purdue gets, once again, another break.

Brandon's Blog: More Than Just a U-M Shirt
Michigan AD Dave Brandon writes a blog. Who knew?!

Recruitaholics: Lights, Camera, ACTION!

This Week: Commits in Action (Debut), Prospects in Action (Debut), 2014 News, and Yes, unfortunately...Sayonara Suckas

Making it Recruitaholics debut, Commits/Prospects in Action is going to provide you with a week by week breakdown of how current Michigan '13 commits and also of certain prospects who Michigan is interested in perform in their retrospective HS games.  Not every commit/prospect will be mentioned.

Commits in Action
Let's start your rehab with quite possibly, one of the coolest pictures I've seen this year dealing with a recruit:

 Image via here
Anyways, QB Shane Morris took the field for the first time this past weekend and he put up pretty decent numbers.  He completed 14 of his 26 pass attempts for 177 yards with 2 TDS and 1 INT.  There was a report that his receivers may have dropped a few passes and that penalties caused a few completions to come back.  Along with that, he started the game going 1/7 with 11 yards and the INT in the 1st quarter.  His next 3 quarters though, he was able to get it going and went 13/19 with 2 TD's which is much more respectable.  Still not a shabby way to start the season...most important thing: He led his team to a WIN! (35-0).  See Shane's performance for yourself below:

Maybe the most impressive performance of the week come from RB Deveon Smith.  Smith carried the ball 17 times for 311 (!!!) yards and 3 TD's in his team's win on Friday.  He's making everyone say "Derrick Green who?"  Does anything else really need to be said?  Ok, one thing: He averaged almost enough yards for two first down's on each carry (18.3) and fell 98 yards shy of breaking the record. Thats it.  Just look for yourself:

A word that I thought I would've chosen in describing S Dymonte Thomas' performance in his first game might have been impressive, talented, or smart, but instead I'm going with classy and mature.  This kid just gets it.  He led the defense in holding their opponent to 101 total yards for the game even though they still lost.  But this is what impressed me the most:
Kid is giving props to the opponent on a great game!!  Thomas understands the game of football and how you get better and he definitely excites me the most out of anyone else in this class.  His versatility (he played QB,RB,TE,S,MLB,OLB) is enough proof in itself of how talented this kid is.   

LB Mike McCray had a sack and a forced fumble on the same play early in the game for Trotwood (OH).  He seemed to have injured himself soon after, but turned out to be ok.  Had a dominate performance once he returned making fast breaks on the ball and blowing up play after play. 

WR commit C'sonte York also took part in his first game this past weekend.  TomVH was able to talk to his coach and get his stat line.  He played both offense and defense:

DB commit Channing Stribling sure proved something to the Scout.com staff with his impressive performance last week in his first action of the year.  He was bumped up to a 3-star and moves up to the #58 CB in the country.

DB Gareon Conley was another commit that was hard to find much info about...I did find that he led his team with 81 yards receiving and I found a video (yay!) of his highlights from the 55-21 victory.

No defensive plays unfortunately but Conley definitely displays his speed and quickness.  Could he be a future return man on top of excelling at DB?  Looks like he's got the athleticism and skills to succeed at both.

CB Jourdan Lewis had his impressive summer showing carry over to the regular season.  He was making plays all over the field, even as a QB (you'll see below).  Watch the move he puts on this guy:

Tremendous was in attendence and put together a great breakdown of future commits as well as prospects (check out below for a little preview) who turned heads.  Commit OL David Dawson appears in some of these videos as well.  Look for #71.  '14 prospect Damon Webb is #2.

Commit RB/FB Wyatt Shallman and his team didn't have much of a test in their opening week match-up winning 35-0.  He was able to compile 50 yards on 5 carries and a TD on offense and added 8 tackles (3 for loss) on defense.  Not to shabby considering he probably didn't play the whole game. 

LB Ben Gedeon was a tough one to find stats for too, but Scout.com's Josh Newkirk was in attendance and comments about nice play he made and gives him an interesting (but good) nickname:

DE Taco Charlton was part of his team's 28-15 victory.  No stats were found but Sam Webb said he made plays on both sides of the ball. 

DE Henri Poggi was in action earlier this evening.  Couldn't find much here either, but Kyle Bogenschutz did give us his reaction to a great play by Poggi.  In some other interesting news, GBW is being told by Mr. Poggi that Alabama is "relentless" in coming after Poggi. 

Lone '14 commit LB Michael Ferns helped his team pull out a victory in their opening contest.  And even made the front page of his home town paper's sport section:

Not much info here besides that Ferns did end up scoring 2 TD's before it was all said and done. 

Prospects in Action

Top RB Derrick Green was a major factor this weekend for his Hermitage squad in their 38-0 whooping.  ESPN provides some highlights and also caught up with Green to get his insight on his performance and recent news with his recruitment.

IL WR Laquon Treadwell had a huge debut (and he didn't even need two halves).  Getting 147 yards on 3 catches in one half of football is pretty good right?! O and that's only 49 yards a catch in case you were wondering...sub par I guess (picking up the sarcasm I hope).  One way he was able to gain some of those yards and wow the crowd:

Some other good news from the Treadwell carousel:
Treadwell also received confirmation that he will be playing in the Under Armor All American game along side 7 (!!!!) Michigan commits.

Tom Markowski of the Detroit News put together some great analysis of the top talent in the state of Michigan for the '13 class.  And as expected, Michigan commits dominate the list.

2014 News

OH LB Clifton Garrett is supposedly scheduling a visit to AA to witness the Paul Bunyan Trophy game against MSU according to Wolverines247 analyst Clint Brewster.  Still no offer for the talented backer, but this is a good start.

IL DB Parrker Westphal has been a hot commodity of late and has really seen his recruitment blow up.  Michigan is just one of the many big time programs to extend an offer his way.  Taylor Bell of CSNChicago.com had a chance to chat with Westphal about how he makes a name for himself.
One quote in the article that really stood out to me:
 "Last spring, I realized how much colleges want big and strong and fast cornerbacks. It is one of the toughest positions in football to recruit. I realize I am in demand. Colleges don't want 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9 cornerbacks trying to defend 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6 receivers. I have to hit like a linebacker, be the size of a safety and cover like a cornerback with speed and footwork."
Love this!  Just another player who just seems to get it.  Hoke and this staff are recruiting guys with character and smarts for the game and I couldn't do it any better or be any happier. 

Sayonara Suckas

In-state (Cass Tech) OL Dennis Finley committed to Michigan State late tonight according to his coach.  Looks like one finally slips away and escapes the pipeline although Michigan had still yet to offer.  

Team 133 Captains: Denard Robinson & Jordan Kovacs

Pretty much everyone saw this one coming. Denard was an obvious choice for offense, and you won't find a much better choice than Jordan Kovacs for the defense.

Denard was the QB that nobody wanted. RichRod gave him a chance and he proved himself worthy of the starting role.  For Jordan – from unknown walk-on to starter to senior captain – a great story for one of Michigan football's most likable players. Both of their stories are about as unique as it gets.

#Team133 chose wisely.

Via UM press release:
U-M Football Players Vote Jordan Kovacs and Denard Robinson as Captains of Team 133

ANN ARBOR, Mich.  -- University of Michigan football head coach Brady Hoke announced Sunday (Aug. 26) that seniors Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay) and Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield) have been elected captains of the 2012 football team by a vote of their teammates.

"Denard and Jordan are two guys who represent what Michigan football stands for, on and off the field, and they certainly are deserving of being named team captains," said U-M head football coach Brady Hoke.  "They have played a lot of football here.  I know they will do a great job of leading the seniors and Team 133."

Kovacs, a three-year letterman and starter at safety, has opened 33 of 37 career games. He has totaled 266 tackles -- 21 for losses -- five sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups in his career. Kovacs was named to the 2012 preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lott IMPACT Trophy.

A three-year letterman, Robinson has started 27 of 38 career games in three seasons at Michigan. He has completed 338 of 580 passes for 4,931 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed 546 times for 3,229 yards and 35 touchdowns. He ranks in the top 10 in U-M history in passing completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns and in rushing yards, touchdowns and 100-yard games (14). Robinson was named to the 2012 preseason watch list for the Davey O’Brien Trophy and the Manning, Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards.

Friday Lowdown is Inside The Fort

Ok, so we're breaking the rules and turning the "midweek lowdown" into "whatever-day-of-the-week-it-is lowdown". We had good response from Wednesday's post, plus I kind of like the informal nature of this kind of post for stuff like this.

Before we jump in, a friendly reminder that you have just under a week to sign up for the MBN pick'em league on Yahoo!. Winner takes home a $75 Moe Sport Shops gift card. 2nd and 3rd place win prizes too. Click here for details.

More about the Oklahoma t-shirt kid via a local OKC TV station. They just happened to be there when the family got the call from Brandon with the invite. Cooper and his family will be attending the UMass game on September 15th.

Michigan linebacker Kaleb Ringer, offensive lineman Chris Bryant out for season 
Well, it can't all be feel good stories about adorable 5-year olds.

The injury bug claimed it's 2nd and 3rd victims so far in this fall camp. Freshman LB Kaleb Ringer and OL Chris Bryant join true-freshman DE Chris Wormley as guys who will not see the field in 2012. Ringer had surgery on his knee, while Bryant fractured his tibia.

All 3 were not starters, but this will impact the depth chart, especially the loss of Bryant. Michigan now has just 5 scholarship backups on the OL, who are all freshman.

Dienhart: My thoughts from Michigan practice
Much to the ire of local media folks who cover Michigan football, BTN was given unfettered access to yesterday's practice at Schembechler Hall to tape their 1-hour Michigan preview show (which airs at 10PM ET tonight on BTN).

BTN's Tom Dienhart was tweeting and taking some pretty good notes...including a nice interview with Roy Roundtree. Here's a few interesting bits from his post.

On Denard:
I had many observations from the practice, none bigger than Denard Robinson looked more comfortable than ever under center. He’s such a dangerously quick athlete who can legitimately score any time he touches the ball. His skills were on full display today. But more importantly, Robinson looked better as a passer—when he was able to set his feet, which always is key for him.
On Devin:
Gardner is a wild card. How much will the quarterback-by-trade play at receiver? I asked Borges about Gardner, and his eyes got big. Borges says Gardner doesn’t know how good he can be. He’s an athletic freak who will figure in the rotation. Count on it.
On receivers:
Chesson and Darboh are good-looking pass catchers with size. They will play. Gardner is a wild card. How much will the quarterback-by-trade play at receiver? I asked Borges about Gardner, and his eyes got big. Borges says Gardner doesn’t know how good he can be. He’s an athletic freak who will figure in the rotation. Count on it.
On Campbell:
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery told me massive tackle Will Campbell looks dialed in and ready for a big senior season. For a man of his girth, he moves well and can get up the field quickly. But Montgomery said Campbell still can be dogged by inconsistency but seems primed for a big senior season.

Obama misspells Ohio
Ohio State schadenfreude. The MZone is always knows where to find it.
I understand they gave POTUS another chance to get it right and they nailed it. But that's less funny so I won't show you that.

A historical ranking of the top Heisman schools and conferences
CBS Sports' Chris Huston (aka Heisman Pundit) quantifies each school's Heisman history by assigning points based on how each school has done in the top 10 of Heisman voting ballots each year. Michigan comes in at #5.
All-time Heisman Points
1. Notre Dame, 277
2. (tie) Oklahoma, Ohio State, 191
4. USC, 166
5. Michigan, 147
6. Texas, 105
7. Army, 102
8. Penn State, 99
9. UCLA, 98
10 (tie). Nebraska, Miami, 93

Guy Names Every Heisman Trophy Winner, In Order, With School [YouTube]
Speaking of Heisman...yeah, this is sick.

The Bacon Balcony Awaits (Jim Rome Audio 08-23)
So I heard that John U. Bacon was going to be a guest on the Jim Rome show yesterday but I couldn't catch it live. I went to the Rome show website, but I wasn't able to download/play the show without signing up for a membership($). Alas, MVictors to the rescue. (Ed. Bacs has it also).

Bacon, along with the Brothers Sklar who were sitting in for Rome, jump right into a certain article written by a certain person about a certain allegation from a certain game from 2007 which we don't need to go into 'round here.

Images of USC's new John McKay Center

USC spent $70 million dollars on a 110,000-square foot football facility complete with an underground practice field. It's purdy.

Michigan's Ford Field Practice Highlights

Courtesy of MGoBlue's countdown to kickoff series. Mostly just interviews and individual drills, but still worth a watch. Interesting to see Ferris Bueller and Animal House used to create a noisy atmosphere.

B1G Schedule Breakdown: Nebraska

Nebraska is my team to beat in the B1G this season. Scroll down to find out why.

Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Nebraska CornHuskers
2011 Overall Record: 9-4
2011 Big Ten Record: 5-3

Sept 1Southern Miss
Sept 8@ UCLA
Sept 15Arkansas State
Sept 22Idaho State
Sept 29Wisconsin
Oct 6@ Ohio State
Oct 20@ Northwestern
Oct 27Michigan
Nov 3@ Michigan State
Nov 10Penn State
Nov 17Minnesota
Nov 23@ Iowa

Do Not Play

Biggest Game
If things play out the way they should and Michigan takes care of business against Little Brother on October 20th, then that sets up a huge showdown one week later between Michigan and Nebraska in Lincoln and in prime-time on ABC. Michigan played maybe their most complete game against Nebraska last season. I suspect that loss has been itching at Pelini (OSU grad) all off-season.

But should that game not go our way, then Michigan fans will need to cheer on Sparty the following week when the Huskers visit E Lansing. Oct 20, Oct 27 and Nov 3 will define who takes the driver's seat the legends division.

Non-Conference Loss
The trip to Pasadena on Sept 8th is really the only non-conf threat on this schedule. Although I think Nebraska takes care of business.

It's a Trap!
I think there's a couple places where Nebraska could be tripped up. Last season Northwestern came into Lincoln and beat Neb 28-25. That game comes after a trip to Columbus, then a bye-week, and before the showdown with Michigan. Lots of distractions.

Also, possibly @ Iowa at the end of the year.

The Game Destined for ESPN3.com
Idaho State on Sept 22.

Final Analysis
Once again, Nebraska gets probably the toughest conference slate in the Big Ten. The season will be defined by how they perform against legends rivals Michigan and Michigan State. I have no doubt the Huskers will have the skill players to compete, and most of the statistical leaders from the offense are back. They will have to replace 3 OL starters from 2011, but the bulk of the defense returns.

I, like many, thought Nebraska would make a bigger splash in the B1G last year and possibly contend for a league title. That never materialized, but I think 2012 could be a big redemption year in Lincoln. This team is better than 9-4.

Fearless Predictions
Non-conference record: 4-0
Division Record: 4-1
Crossover Record: 2-1
Overall: 10-2
Bowl: Rose