Friday, August 31, 2012
Say what you will, a win is a win.
Michigan State obviously didn’t look like a well-polished national title contender in Friday’s 17-13 win over Boise State, but I don’t think many expected that.
Bottom line for the Spartans was they got a win over a program that has been in the national spotlight for the better part of a decade and is known for pulling off upsets to open the season.
There are plenty of questions ahead for MSU, especially on offense, but this game was like an NCAA Tournament game, just survive and advance.
Still, there are talking points from the game. Here is what stood out to me.
Andrew Maxwell struggled and has plenty of room to grow
Maxwell was just 22-of-38 for 241 yards in his first start. He had three interceptions and no touchdowns. The first INT was not his fault, but he could take plenty of blame for the other two. Maxwell never got settled in and wasn’t consistent with his ability to lead the offense. Had that first INT been a completion (as it should have been) and not an interception, perhaps he would have had a different performance. The Spartan receivers didn’t do much to help him and he didn’t do much to help them. I suspect he will look much better next week at Central Michigan, but Spartan fans certainly didn’t gain much confidence in his ability to win a game.
Le’Veon Bell is a stud
Bell was everything MSU could have asked for on Friday. 44 carries for 209 yards and two scores. It was impressive for its physicality as much as it was for its results. Bell took a number of hits (perhaps too many) but kept on going. Certainly MSU can’t rely on him that heavily going forward, but it is clear he is willing to take the offense on his back if need be.
The MSU Defense is as good as advertised
Boise State had just 208 total yards of offense but had a chance to win. It was no fault of the defense, which set the tone right away. The MSU line put plenty of pressure on Joe Southwick and never allowed D.J. Harper to get going (15 carries, 8 yards). We don’t know how good the Boise State offense will be, but I suspect the Broncos will never be held to fewer yards than they were tonight. Regardless of what the offense does, MSU should be in every game due to its defense.
Prior to Michigan leaving Ann Arbor for Saturday’s came against Alabama, Michigan coach Brady Hoke announced that RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and DE Frank Clark won’t play in the contest.
Here is Hoke’s statement on the matter through a press release:
Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark have been suspended for one game and will not make the trip to
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.
I commend Hoke on the decision. I think it sets a good message for the players and the program. Other coaches wouldn’t do the same thing against an opponent the caliber of
What do you think
fans? Are you happy with the decision?
It’s finally here.
College football is upon us and there may not be a state with more interest in the next two days than
Here are my picks for the weekend.
This game has so many question marks coming into it. How good is Andrew Maxwell? Is the MSU defense as good as advertised? How will
recover from losing so many starters? Boise State
I know the Broncos look depleted, but their program has been strong for many years now because of their ability to recruit and develop talent. I have no doubt that
should be very talented
when it steps on the field tonight. The big concern of the Broncos is that they
lack experience. There could be some miscues that will play right into the
Spartans’ hands. Boise
I expect the game to be close most of the way, but look for MSU to make some plays on both sides of the ball toward the end of the game to get the big victory.
Prediction: MSU 21,
17 Boise State
dominate this game for months, and while I still do expect the Crimson Tide to
win handily, I think Michigan
has a better shot than I originally felt.
I look for
to get a big play in the first half to keep the game close, but ultimately I
see the Wolverines struggling to move the ball consistently without Fitzgerald
Toussaint (who I expect not to play).
Michigan defense should
be able to have some success, but over the course of the game, the size and
strength of the Alabama
offensive line will win out.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
The college football season is set to begin tonight.
It’s an exciting time around the country and high hopes reside on all campuses, especially at
State and Michigan.
With MSU getting underway tomorrow and
Michigan starting on Saturday, here are my
keys to victory for both teams.
: Boise State
- Start Fast: Normally this would be implied to the offense, but I am actually making reference to the defense.
is breaking in a
lot of new pieces, including at quarterback. If the MSU defensive front can get
to Joe Southwick early, it is likely to lead to some quick turnovers and good
field position for Andrew Maxwell and the offense. Boise
- Establish The Running Game: The best way to truly stop the
offense is to keep it off the field. Also, with Maxwell getting his first
start, it is best to have a healthy running game. If Le’Veon Bell, Larry Caper
and Nick Hill can consistently move the team down the field and make Maxwell
only have to make safe throws, it should lead to a strong night for the
Spartans. Boise State
- Don’t Get Too Tricky: Mark Dantonio hasn’t shied away from trick plays in big games. However, in this game,
should be the team
setting the tempo and winning the line of scrimmage. The Spartans don’t need to
try anything radical to win this game and a failed risk could give Michigan
the opening it needs to pull off the upset. Keep the strategy simple and sound. Boise State
- Don’t Lose Before Kickoff: Brady Hoke has done a good job of hyping his team up for this game. There is no doubt that
Alabama is the
favorite to win this game, but Michigan
can’t come in with that attitude. Any bit of intimidation from the Wolverines
will cost them the game before it even starts. Michigan has to come out with passion, confidence
and energy. I know it sounds like a silly thing to say, but not all players
take the field believing they can win.
- Play The Run: The Crimson Tide will be big up front and probably look to pound the rock.
Michigan is small on the
defensive line, but they have a solid group of linebackers. The Wolverines need
to commit those linebackers to the run in the early going to try and get the
Crimson Tide off the field. Though A.J. McCarron is a returning starter at
quarterback for Alabama,
he is the weaker option for the Tide’s offense. Michigan
would much rather give McCarron the option of beating it rather than letting Alabama run the ball all
- Establish The Run: This one isn’t real difficult either. With or without Fitzgerald Toussaint, the Wolverines need to be able to run the ball effectively and it can’t be up to Denard Robinson to do all the running.
may have to get creative in the way it moves the ball because Alabama will probably plug up a lot of the running
won’t be able to win this game if Robinson has to convert a lot of
third-and-longs with his arm. If Michigan is
able to run the ball consistently, it opens the door for a lot of options for
the Wolverines and will keep Alabama
guessing on defense.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
The first Big Ten Coaches Teleconference took place on Tuesday.
Here is a collection of thoughts from
Michigan coach Brady Hoke and MSU coach Mark
- On representing Big Ten against Alabama: “Anytime you are playing games against other conferences, obviously, your school, your team and the people you represent, that’s an important part. At the same time, the Big Ten Conference, we’ve got great academic institutions, great athletic programs and great schools in this conference. There is no question that is part of when you play a team from another league.”
- On how fall camp was impacted by opening with
Alabama: “I think (it
was) and I think we would say so as a staff. You go into every opener a little
bit unsure of what you have as a football team and I think that is something
you find out, good and bad. Playing the defending national champions, a very
well coached and good football team that has been put together over five or six
years of recruiting, we will have our hands full. At the same time, I think you
look forward to playing in these kind of games at a different site and playing
great football teams.”
- On the challenges
poses at the line of scrimmage: “I think on both sides of the ball. We feel
that their offensive line is, if not the best, one of the best offensive lines
as a unit. They have four or five starters back and they are physical at the
point of attack. They are coached well. They are big. They are a big group and
I don’t think we are quite that big of a defensive line. On the other side of
it, we have had some holes to fill when you lose Mark Huyge and you lose David
Molk. Ricky Barnum has done a nice job at center in the spring and at fall
camp. Left guard, Elliott Mealer has done a tremendous job and (Michael) Schofield
at right tackle. We are different. Every team is different every year, but we
will be excited about what is going on on Saturday.
- On scheduling marquee opponents in non-conference play: “We like it. We like it as a program and I like it personally. I think when you want to be the best and you want to be champions and all those things, you need to play the best and play those programs that are at a high level. We think as a team that that is just going to make us better as a team when we get into the Big Ten. I am very comfortable opening up with
- On what the team needs to improve on this year: “Well, first and foremost, we need to do a better job of taking care of the football. There were times last year where decision making or fundamentals wasn’t as good as it needed to be. Near the end of the year, we needed to do a better job of getting the ball back for our offense and maybe stealing a possession. We are a different team than a year ago, so our defensive front is going to be a part that we are really interested to see how we are all going to react and play. The kicking game and our return games are something we feel we can do a better job with.”
- On Fitzgerald Toussaint’s status for Saturday’s game: “We have not made any decision on what we are going to do. That decision will come before game time, obviously, but right now he’s been practicing and he’s been getting reps and doing all the things that guys do, so we’ll just see.”
- Is Toussaint a game-time decision: “We’ll see.”
- Who would start if Toussaint doesn’t: “Vince Smith has played a lot of football for us. Thomas Rawls played some ball for us a year ago and Justice Hayes….I mean, all three of those guys are capable and available.”
- On carrying the Big Ten banner in the opener vs.
“I think collectively we as a group will stand together at the end of the day. But
I think more importantly, it’s how we play and how Boise State
plays right now. Everybody is chasing the dream. It starts this weekend for so
many different football teams and there is a lot of optimism out there. You really
can’t worry about the end result, which conference is stronger at this point
and time. You are just trying to be one of those people that gets it going
within your own conference. That’s how we take it. We aren’t going out there
and representing the Big Ten Conference as much as we are putting on the green
and white and representing Michigan State today. But,
collectively as a group, we certainly are extremely proud of the heritages and
traditions and the strength of the Big Ten Conference.” Michigan
- On if
has become a
national power given the last two seasons: “Well I think we are in the
conversation, but every year is a new year. We will have to see how we play and
play through this. I think that Boise, themselves, have beaten Oregon, (Virginia) Tech and Georgia in the last three years on opening games, so it’s a great
challenge for us. It’s a night game here at Spartan Stadium. It will be an
exciting atmosphere, but we are going to have to play. We have to play well.” Michigan
- On having a premiere opening game to start the season: “I think it was 2008 when our athletic director came to me and asked me if we wanted to play
it was, I can’t remember. It would be a nationally televised game and on a
Friday night and all those things. I knew the reputation of
and I knew coach (Chris) Petersen as a person, somewhat, and I knew they had a
great program. I thought it would be good for our program, to test us early,
and obviously to jump in with both feet. We decided to do that and what it says
to the whole ramification of this game is that Boise State Boise is going to play anyone, anywhere, and
they are going to come to play. is not going to
back away from a challenge as well. If they want to play, we’ll play. If it was
productive for both teams to play and for both universities, we would do this.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for how they play and how hard they play.” Michigan
- On sophomore defensive end Marcus Rush: “Marcus is a very exciting player to watch. He has a quick body and does a great job with his hands. He runs extremely well. I see him picking up where he left off. He gets himself going before a game. He has a great motor. He is just one of the guys. He was a Freshman All-American. He is one of the guys that was very productive last year, along with some of these other guys you don’t hear as much about. He’s a very good football player and he’s only going to be a redshirt sophomore. He’s a guy that we’re planning on having a great, outstanding year, but again, we are starting over. There is a lot of optimism, but we are all starting over, so we have to earn our spurs.”
Monday, August 27, 2012
But the debate never has to end.
Today I will break down each position group for
Michigan and , sort of like a
checklist, to see who comes into the season with the better team on paper. Michigan
QUARTERBACKS – This is an easy one. Denard Robinson is in his third season as starter and even the backup, Devin Gardner, has more snaps in live action than MSU’s first-year starter, Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell could be good but it would be very hard to see him being better than Robinson. Advantage
RUNNING BACKS – This is a tough call, but I think the Wolverines have the edge here. Fitzgerald Toussaint appears to be the best back of the group, but at this time it is unknown how many games he could miss from a suspension. MSU has a good group of backs that could produce more yards this year, but if you factor Robinson’s rushing ability,
should have the stronger rushing attack. Advantage
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END –
has the clear edge here. The Spartans don’t have a returning starter at the
position and will be playing a lot of underclassmen. Michigan isn’t overly loaded with experience
either, but have guys like Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon, who have some
chemistry with Robinson. Advantage Michigan
OFFENSIVE LINE –
Michigan might have the best single player on the line in
Taylor Lewan, but has four starters
back from a group that allowed just 16 sacks in 2011. Advantage MSU Michigan
DEFENSIVE LINE – MSU has the clear edge in this one. William Gholston is one of the top defensive ends in the country and he is joined on the other end by Marcus Rush. Defensive tackle is a question, but the ends should be strong enough to help overcome the issues up the middle.
is lacking in experience up front and now has some depth issues due to injuries
and suspensions. Advantage MSU
LINEBACKERS – Both teams should be strong at linebacker, but MSU has a slight edge in my eyes. The Spartans have a pair of 2011 All-Big Ten selections in Denicos Allen and Max Bullough.
returns all three starters, but the trio doesn’t quite have the numbers that
the MSU trio does. Advantage MSU
SECONDARY – Again, both should be solid, but I like MSU’s unit over
Michigan’s. Johnny Adams has emerged as one
of the top cornerbacks in the country and he is one of three starters back for
MSU. For Michigan,
three starters are also back, but the Wolverines don’t quite have the same
production out of their secondary. Advantage
SPECIAL TEAMS – Got to go with
here. Dan Conroy
struggled with some short kicks, but was 8-for-9 in FG’s between 30-50 yards.
Punter Mike Sadler has a better average and more punts inside the 20 than Will
Hagerup of Michigan
The Spartans also have better numbers in the return game, led by Nick Hill. Advantage MSU
COACHING – It’s easy for
fans to want to immediately say Brady Hoke is the better coach, but he still
has to prove that. One season doesn’t make him better than Mark Dantonio right
now. I am not saying he can’t be the better coach over the long haul, but right
now, I have to give the nod to Dantonio. Certainly the recruiting is going in
Hoke’s favor. If that recruiting translates on the field, Hoke will have the
edge soon. Advantage MSU
That puts the tally at 6-3 for
However, some of the positions that MSU gets the nod are closer than the ones
where Michigan State Michigan
tops MSU. Quarterback and receiver stand out. It appears on paper both teams
should be equipped for a strong year, which is what should make this season a
Sunday, August 26, 2012
It’s not always fair to just focus on
and and how much they control their
success this season. Michigan State
Their opponents will have a big role in what happens this upcoming weekend.
Here is a look at what to expect from each Week 1 opponent.
The Idaho Statesman has a number of articles on what to expect from the Broncos this season. Give them a read for your
Coming out of
it sounds like the concerns are what we all expected. The Broncos have to
replace a number of key starters, including Kellen Moore at quarterback.
It appears that junior Joe Southwick will be the man under center for
He has seen some limited action the past few seasons, but nothing like he will
face on Friday.
One area the Broncos should be strong is at cornerback, as they have two returning senior starters in Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins. Unfortunately for those two, the defensive line is very young, so they could find themselves getting left out to dry often.
is a pretty big
question mark. They could continue to be very strong, or it could be a tough
year. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they have a tough first opponent to try
and figure it all out. Boise
AL.com has a lot of information on the Tide, including why a team like
Michigan has no chance
of upsetting the them on Saturday.
In the eyes of writer Andrew Gribble, to beat
Alabama, you have to
take the Tide out of character in multiple facets of the game to have a chance.
On top of that, you would need a few breaks to go Michigan’s way as well.
Gribble believes that beating
Alabama through the air is the best chance
of winning, and is what has done the trick in losses for the Tide over the
years. He doesn’t consider Denard Robinson the type of quarterback that can get
I tend to agree as I think the speed of the
Alabama defense will neutralize Robinson’s legs and he
has yet to prove he can pick apart a top defense with his arm, and Alabama is at the top of
the top defenses.
Alabama to stick
with that pro-style offense to pound the rock against the questionable Michigan defensive line while A.J. McCarron completes
some key third-down passes to lead Alabama
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Just like I did yesterday, by breaking down the
season and giving my prediction
for the season, today I do the same for the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan State
As I make these predictions, keep in mind I can’t assume injuries, and I am expecting Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark to sit out the season opener with
Sept. 1 vs.
: Sorry Wolverine
fans, I don’t see this going well. It doesn’t mean that Alabama Michigan
won’t have a good season, it just means the Wolverines aren’t at the Alabama level quite yet.
Sept 8 vs. Air Force: There is some potential for trouble here due to the quirky Air Force offense, but I suspect
will be ready to put on a show in the home opener. (W, 1-1)
Sept. 15 vs. UMass: This shouldn’t be much of a game at all. If it is, that is a bad sign. (W, 2-1)
Sept. 22 at Notre Dame: Notre Dame has payback on the mind, but I think that
Michigan edges the Irish
on the road. The Irish have had problems dealing with Denard Robinson, and I
suspect that will continue. (W, 3-1)
Oct. 6 at Purdue: Purdue should be improving, but not enough to beat
Michigan this year. The Wolverines should be
able to take the Big Ten opener comfortably. (W, 4-1)
Oct. 13 vs.
Illinois: With MSU lurking next week, I see the
potential for a letdown in this game, but I still think Michigan will pull out the win. Tim Beckman will
have a wide-open offense, but I don’t look for the Illinois defense to be able to contain the
Wolverines. (W, 5-1)
Oct. 20 vs.
: If you read my MSU breakdown
already, there is no surprise here. I think Michigan State Michigan ends the losing streak to the
Spartans in a hard-fought game that will come down to a few big plays. (W, 6-1)
Oct. 27 at
Nebraska: Michigan handled
Nebraska last year at home, but the
Cornhuskers are much tougher in Lincoln.
After beating MSU, I see Michigan
having an off day and getting their first Big Ten loss. (L, 6-2)
Nov. 3 at
Minnesota: The loss to Nebraska
will be a wake-up call for the Wolverines and they will come into Minnesota and make a
statement on the Gophers. (W, 7-2)
Nov. 10 vs. Northwestern: Northwestern can be a problem for teams, but the Wildcats are too inconsistent to pull the upset in this one. (W, 8-2)
Nov. 17 vs.
Iowa: Iowa is a team
that has given Michigan
problems in recent history and I expect the same thing in this game. Look for
this game to come down to the wire once again, only Michigan finds the way to win in the home
finale. (W, 9-2)
Nov. 24 at
Ohio State: I
don’t see Michigan
getting this one. The Buckeyes still have some issues, but with the postseason
ban, this is their national title game. Urban Meyer has been very open with his
passion for this game and he will have his team, and the home crowd, ready to
go to war with Michigan.
The Wolverines will be in the game until the end, but come up short. (L, 9-3)
Dec. 1 vs.
Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship): Despite 2 Big Ten
losses, I see Michigan, MSU, Nebraska,
and Iowa all
huddled up in the Legends Division race. Michigan
will get the nod on a tiebreaker. In this game, I see the Badgers having the
edge. They will have an easier road to get to the title game and the experience
of being in the game last year. I think Wisconsin
has the steadier offense that can keep Denard off the field for long periods of
time. (L, 9-4)
Friday, August 24, 2012
This will be a very telling season for where the MSU program is heading.
Here is a look at the schedule and my prediction for each game.
Before I begin, keep in mind my expectations are for the Spartan defense to be very strong and for Andrew Maxwell to be an average to slightly above average quarterback. Also, I can’t plan for any injuries that could dramatically impact the season.
But, enough excuses.
2012 MSU Schedule & Predictions
Aug. 31 vs.
The Spartans have the edge here, being at home and with fewer new pieces to
mix in than the Broncos. (W, 1-0) Boise State
Sept. 8 at
Central Michigan: I expect a tough start for the
Spartans before their defense takes over and allows them to win somewhat
comfortably. (W, 2-0)
Sept. 15 vs. Notre Dame: The Spartans have payback on their mind for Brian Kelly. With the Irish using a redshirt freshmen at QB, I see MSU forcing a lot of turnovers and staying unbeaten. (W, 3-0)
Sept. 22 vs.
Eastern Michigan: Ron English has slowly built the
Eagles into a rising program in the MAC, but their smash-mouth style will play
right into the hands of the Spartan linebackers. (W, 4-0)
Sept. 29 vs.
I expect the Buckeyes to be a lot better at the end of the year than at the
beginning. I think MSU’s defense will stymie Braxton Miller and allow Maxwell
the ability to make a few plays and win the game. (W, 5-0) Ohio State
Oct. 6 at
Indiana: Sorry Hoosiers, you don’t have much to offer
against anyone, let alone . (W, 6-0) Michigan
Oct. 13 vs.
has always been a tough out for the Spartans. Also consider that MSU could be
looking ahead to Michigan
the next week. I expect this to go right down to the finish, but I will give
the nod to MSU since it has the home-field edge. (W, 7-0)
Oct. 20 at
: I see the
four-game winning streak ending this year. Michigan Michigan should have its best team in recent
memory and the Big House in its favor. The Spartans will put up a fight, but I
think it’s Michigan’s
turn to get back the Paul Bunyan Trophy. (L, 7-1)
Oct. 27 at
: What a
tough two-game stretch for MSU. Wisconsin Wisconsin
has become somewhat of a rival over the last few years. The Badgers would like
to put the Spartans out of the Big Ten race in this game as opposed to possibly
having to beat them in Indy once again. Mark Danotnio has always played Wisconsin tough, but I
see the Badgers winning at home. (L, 7-2)
Nov. 3 vs.
Cornhuskers are not nearly the team they are at home when on the road. Don’t
look for anything like what happened in Nebraska Lincoln
in 2011. I see MSU taking out two weeks of frustrations out on Bo Pelini and
Taylor Martinez. (W, 8-2)
Nov. 17 vs. Northwestern: The Wildcats are another team that likes to make things difficult, but this is a game that the Spartan offense could actually put up big numbers. I don’t see MSU losing at home in this one. (W, 9-2)
Nov. 24 at
Minnesota: MSU has lost four of its last five at Minnesota, but this isn’t
the same Spartan team. The Gophers were a mess last year, but still gave MSU a
scare. I don’t think State will take them lightly on the road to end the
season. (W, 10-2)
I don’t see MSU in the Big Ten Championship Game, but a 10-2 regular season is still a very good year for a team with a first-year starting quarterback. It would put the Spartans in the BCS bowl hunt and surely get them a high-profile postseason game regardless. More importantly, it keeps MSU as one of the top teams in the Big Ten for a third year in a row.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
What is the definition of “back”?
In the golf world, everyone wants to be the one to declare Tiger Woods “back” even though it is clear he is far from it.
With the departure of Rich Rodriguez from the
Michigan football program, the Wolverine fans have been
clamoring for Michigan
to get “back” to its tradition.
In stepped Brady Hoke,
Michigan went 11-2, and now some feel the
Wolverines are indeed “back”.
If by “back” you mean a team that can win around 10 games a year, perhaps
is “back”, but we need to see a bigger sample size before we can expect the
Wolverines to win 10 games every year.
If by “back” you mean a Big Ten champion, then clearly
Michigan is still on its
If by “back” you mean a national title contender, the Wolverines aren’t there either and may never get there.
However, that was the knock on Lloyd Carr when he was ending his tenure at
A large part of the fan base was unhappy with his ability to get Michigan into the
national title picture and for losing games that many felt he shouldn’t. In
some cases, the complaints were warranted. But Carr still brought a national
title to Ann Arbor
and was always in the mix for Big Ten titles.
Now it seems that fans would be happy to go “back” to the Carr days thanks to what happened under Rodriguez.
The Wolverines haven’t won the Big Ten since 2004, its longest drought between titles since 1950-1964.
So history dictates that “back” means Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl appearances.
appears to be ready to be “back” as soon as this season. If not this season,
But until the Wolverines can consistently beat the likes of
and Ohio State
again, which will lead to Big Ten titles, then Michigan is still “away” with fans anxiously
awaiting its return.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Yesterday I looked at three questions I think
has facing it entering the 2012
college football season. Michigan State
Today, I do the same for the Michigan Wolverines.
Expectations are high in
Ann Arbor following an 11-2 record in Brady
Hoke’s first season. With good reason, Michigan
is hoping to end the losing streak to
and claim a Big Ten title in 2012. Here is what I think the Wolverines should
have on their minds. Michigan State
BIG QUESTION NO. 1 – How much as Denard Robinson improved as a passer?
It’s the same old question with Denard. He is clearly one of the biggest weapons in college football, but when he is relegated to being just a passer, he has struggled. His completion percentage, passing yards, and passing efficiency all declined from 2010 to 2011, and his interception total increased. In order for
to really be a contender in the Big Ten and on the national scale, Robinson has
to show he can lead the offense down the field with his arm. And I am not
talking about a 60-yard bomb. He needs to be able to make the tough third-down
passes that sustain drives and keep the Michigan
defense off the field. In the two losses a year ago, that was an issue. He was
just 9-of-24 passing in the loss at Michigan
State and 17-of-37 passing in the loss
BIG QUESTION NO. 2 – Can the
defense play like the 2011 unit? Michigan
A lot of talk is made about the
State defense, with good reason, but
defense was arguably the most improved in the country in 2011. Under defensive
coordinator Greg Mattison, the Wolverines improved from 35.2 points allowed per
game in 2010 to just 17.4 in 2011. The Michigan
pass defense also cut off over 70 yards per game from their average. This
season, the Michigan defense looks very strong in the back seven, but the
concern comes on the defensive line, where the Wolverines lack depth,
especially at defensive end. Poor defensive line play can expose the
linebackers and the secondary as well. In a physical league like the Big Ten,
being weak up front can lead to a lot of problems. If the Michigan defense takes a step back, it will
put more pressure on Robinson and the offense to get into shootouts like they
had to in 2010.
BIG QUESTION NO. 3 – Is Brady Hoke as good as advertised?
You would have a hard time finding any
Michigan fan that would have something bad
to say about Brady Hoke. He says all the right things, he does all the right
things and he wins. What’s not to like? But, though it may be a stretch, there
is a school called Notre Dame that had the same feeling about their previous
two coaches after their first years (Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis). That’s
not to say it will all fall apart for Hoke, but it is still too early to say he
is the savior of Michigan
football. Recruiting has been very strong and the results of 2011 speak for
themselves, but Hoke has to show that he can sustain that level of success in
2012. The Wolverines have a very tough schedule this year, right from the
season opener with Alabama.
Certainly Hoke needs to beat Michigan State in Ann
Arbor this year as well. If Michigan gets to 9 wins or more, and
contends in the Big Ten race, I would say the future is very bright for the
Wolverines under Hoke.
Monday, August 20, 2012
There are plenty of “ifs” and “buts”, however none of them really matter until kickoff of the opening game.
Still, debate and conversation is what makes football so popular.
Over the next two posts I will look at what are the big question marks entering the season for both
State and Michigan. Today, I look at the Spartans.
BIG QUESTION NO. 1 – Can Andrew Maxwell lead MSU to success?
Maxwell comes into a nice situation as a first-year starting quarterback. He has a top-level defense that should keep the scores low and he has a veteran offensive line in front of him. His big concern has to be inexperienced receivers to throw to. But, he has probably developed some chemistry with these guys as backups last year during practice. Maxwell doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to be smart. Maxwell will be more likely to bring MSU down than to push them up. If he avoids turnovers and can make the short, accurate throws, he gives the Spartans a chance for a great season. If tries to do too much, he could make it a long year for Mark Dantonio.
BIG QUESTION NO. 2 – Can the MSU defense be as good as advertised?
I just said that the MSU defense should give Maxwell some ease, but what if they don’t? I think most everyone expects the Spartans to be one of the best defenses in the country, and with good reason. But things don’t always work out that way. Injuries could play a role or players could simply regress. The Spartans do lose a few key pieces on the defensive line, including defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who helped the performance of someone like end William Gholston. The 2011 MSU defense did give up some big numbers to the likes of
Minnesota and Northwestern
last year, so it’s not out of the question they could struggle at times. If the
MSU defense isn’t as dominant as many expect, it puts a lot of pressure on
Maxwell. Conversely, if Maxwell struggles, it puts the MSU defense in a tough
spot to have to be as dominant as expected.
BIG QUESTION NO. 3 – Can MSU stay at the top of the Big Ten?
The last two years have been an impressive run for
. But, it is clear that many
(looking at you Michigan State Michigan
fans) expect the Spartans to drop back to the middle of the Big Ten pack with
Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer in the picture. I am not so sure. I think the
Spartans are still fighting for respectability and this season will go a long
way in terms of getting it or losing it. Wisconsin
should be strong, Ohio State should be improved and Michigan claims to have their man in Hoke.
There are no excuses left on the table. If the Spartans find a way to win the
Legends Division, or even the Big Ten Championship, I would expect them to be a
factor for many years to come. If they stumble and go just 7-5, it may be back
to the “Same Old Spartans” routine.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
State game be moved back to earlier in
the season and be replaced by ? Michigan-Michigan
Pat Caputo wrote about it a few weeks ago and it was the cause of a lot of debate on Friday on 97.1 The Ticket for host Mike Valenti.
At first, I didn’t see the need to change things. I was on the side of “tradition.”
However, the more I think of it, the more it really does make sense to move the game and replace it with
. Michigan State
Now, settle down Wolverine fans. That doesn’t mean that MSU is a bigger rival. My opinion is about the logistics of the new Big Ten Conference setup.
First, the MSU game means more to
Michigan in regards to winning the Big Ten.
To win the conference title, you have to win your division. A win over
only has half of the impact as a win over MSU does. Beating MSU also puts a
loss in the column of a tough divisional opponent and increases Ohio State Michigan’s chances to
win the Legends Division.
Second, what good would it do if
and played two weeks in a row? I know
many Wolverines say beating the Buckeyes is the most important thing each year.
That is fine. But, let’s say in a couple years you beat Ohio State .
Then, the following week, the Buckeyes beat you in the championship game. Did
that first win really mean anything? Ohio State
Third, moving the game to earlier in the season wouldn’t be killing the rivalry. It may adjust tradition, but there are plenty of great rivalry games that take place mid-season. Florida-Georgia and Oklahoma-Texas are just a few that come to mind. Does it really seem that their rivalries are lessened by playing before the final week of the regular season?
Had the Big Ten not changed to a two-division format, or even if
was part of the Legends Division, I would say there is no issue with keeping at the end of the season. But, it
just doesn’t make sense now. Michigan-Ohio State
with MSU is the big
issue, it doesn’t have to be Michigan-MSU to end the season either. Ohio
State Michigan vs. any
division opponent works. But, for interest sake,
seems to be the best option. It could be Michigan-Nebraska if that makes you
feel better. Michigan State
The world won’t end, the rivalry won’t die. Everything would be okay if
is not played at
the end of the season. Michigan-Ohio
So, just think about it
Friday, August 17, 2012
The opening games are just two weeks away, so I thought I would look at the current odds for both
and (for entertainment purposes only!). Michigan State
Here are the odds:
I don’t think the odds for either game are too surprising.
The national perception seems to be that
is going to push around Michigan
with relative ease. A “win” for the Wolverines would be just having a chance to
actually win the game in the fourth quarter. The latest injuries for the
Wolverines don’t help much with their chances.
The one thing
has going for it into the game is its big-play potential. The Wolverines have
the capability of scoring from anywhere thanks to Denard Robinson, but the
speed of the Alabama
defense should keep him in check.
needs is to not be embarrassed by the Crimson Tide. The Wolverine fans like to
think that Michigan
is “back” as a national contender. This game should really tell just how “back”
the Wolverines are.
For MSU, the Spartans have a tough test in
but we probably won’t know just how good this Boise State team is until the season is done.
With so many new starting pieces on offense, it is hard to expect
to be as proficient on offense as they have been in previous years. Plus, they
are playing one of the top defenses in the country on paper to open the season. Boise State
What should be an interesting part of this game is the MSU offense against the
Broncos have consistently been very strong on defense under Chris Petersen, and
that aspect of their game gets overlooked. But, like the offense, the Boise
defense has many new starters. Boise State
MSU needs to start fast on
Leaving the Broncos to hang around in the second half could spell trouble. I
don’t think the Spartans want to put Andrew Maxwell in a high-pressure
situation in his first start. Boise State
As of right now, I would take the favorites minus the points in both games.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Looks like the injury bug is going around.
First it was
had some injuries that will impact the depth of the team, now it is ’s turn. (It is unclear if MSU
caused the injuries themselves to get attention away from Michigan State Michigan. Just kidding guys)
Joe Rexrode, formerly of the Lansing State Journal and now of the Detroit Free Press, reported on Wednesday that junior left guard Blake Treadwell suffered a fracture in his tibia and will be out for 4-5 weeks.
True freshman wide receiver Aaron Burbridge had arthroscopic knee surgery as well and will be out at least six weeks, which increases the likelihood he will redshirt this season. Burbridge had a chance to make the roster entering training camp, especially considering the inexperience MSU has at the position, but the injury won’t allow him to compete for a spot.
While the injury to Burbridge may not have a great impact, the tibia fracture for Treadwell is certainly an issue.
Treadwell was expected to start at left guard this season and he will now at least miss the season opener with
on Aug. 31. The good thing for the Spartans is they have plenty of starting
experience on the offensive line. Boise State
The injury opens the door for redshirt freshman Jack Allen, who has yet to see any live snaps in a college football game. Certainly opponents will look to exploit him as the weak link on the line.
The loss of Treadwell early in the season probably won’t be felt unless another lineman suffers an injury, then the depth up front will be tested.
As I have said before, the strong offensive line for the Spartans will be a key to the development of quarterback Andrew Maxwell. If the line starts to crumble, there may not be much hope for him to succeed.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Just yesterday I said it has been a bad month for the Wolverines. Well, it managed to get even worse less than 24 hours later.
This news came from Michigan Insider, Sam Webb, on his Twitter account (@SamWebb77):
Rumors of Chris Wormley's ACL tear are unfortunately true. The #Michigan freshman DE will obviously miss the season as a result
Wormley is just a true freshman and his role with the team this season was uncertain, but he had the potential to make the regular season roster and provide depth at the position.
With fellow end, Frank Clark, already serving a suspension that could run into the regular season,
has some serious depth issues at defensive end.
The Wolverines have eight ends listed on the current roster. With two currently not available, it could impact the potential redshirts for other true freshmen. Wormley will clearly get a redshirt season with the injury, which still gives him four full seasons with
but the Wolverines have three other true freshmen at end to make decisions on.
With just one senior in the group and the rest sophomores or freshmen, the defensive end position has to be a concern for the coaching staff with
One thing you need against a team like the Crimson Tide is strong play on the defensive front. To get that, you need experience and depth. Right now,
has neither at the end positions.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Already with two players suspended, head coach Brady Hoke revealed on Sunday, at the team’s Media Day, that receiver Roy Roundtree had arthroscopic knee surgery this past Friday.
While Roundtree is only expected to be out a few weeks, the surgery still raises a red flag and could be something that lingers into the season. Considering he is just 6-foot-0, 177 pounds, Roundtree relies on his quickness and his cutting ability to get open.
If you take Roundtree out of the equation, the Wolverines are in a very similar position to
when it comes to
experience at receiver. Michigan
Aside from Andrew Maxwell at quarterback, the biggest question mark for MSU this season is the inexperienced receivers.
That is starting to become an issue with the Wolverines.
Jeremy Gallon is the leading returning receiver for
Michigan from last year,
but he had just 453 yards.
Roundtree took a step back in 2011 compared to his 2010 season (953 yards to 355 yards), but he is expected to be relied on as the playmaker for this group now that Junior Hemingway is gone.
Maxwell needs his receivers more than Robinson, because Robinson is considered the play maker for
while Maxwell needs to rely on his guys to make plays.
However, Robinson will need some receivers to step up at times, mainly Roundtree, since he is the experienced senior in the group.
Time will tell just how severe this knee injury is, but the Wolverines have to have some anxiety about Roundtree’s status.
Monday, August 13, 2012
We are a little under three weeks away from the opening night of games, so I thought I would take a look at both Michigan's & MSU’s non-conference schedules.
Toughest Game – Sept. 1 vs.
Alabama - Clearly there is no
tougher non-conference game in the country than Michigan’s
season opener with Alabama
at Cowboys Stadium. Though the Crimson Tide lost a great deal from last season’s
BCS National Championship squad, there is no doubt that they should be fully
reloaded. A win for Michigan
seems very improbable, as they are still in the process of getting back into
the elite national picture. On the national scale, a win over Alabama would send a huge message that the
Wolverines are “back”.
Easiest Game – Sept. 15 vs. UMass – While UMass has had some success in football, they are making the jump from the FCS to the FBS this season. The Wolverines should have little trouble blowing the Minutemen out of the water at home.
Trap Game – Sept. 8 vs. Air Force – Following what should be a physical battle with
returns home the next week to face the Falcons. Air Force has had a winning
record the last five seasons and they run the triple option, an offense that
can be tough to prepare for when you don’t see it often.
Realistic Record – 3-1 –
also makes the dreaded trip to Notre Dame on Sept. 22. I think the Wolverines should
go 3-1 in non-conference play if they hope to have a successful season. A 2-2
start would feel like a step back from last year, but winning against Alabama or at Notre Dame
will be a tough task.
Toughest Game – Sept. 15 vs. Notre Dame – While
has been stronger
on the national scale, I suspect the Broncos won’t quite be the same given all
they have lost. Notre Dame has high expectations this year, as do the Spartans.
With the game being in Boise
State East Lansing,
this should be one MSU wins. But, you can never count out Brian Kelly and the
Easiest Game – Sept. 22 vs.
Eastern Michigan – The Spartans
host the Eagles at home to close out non-conference play. While Ron English has
made some strides with EMU, the defense should be
able to easily shutdown that run-heavy offense. Michigan
Trap Game – Sept. 8 at
Central Michigan – I know, I know, what
a surprise. But, when you look at this game objectively, it really is a trap
game. First, this game takes place between the meetings with
and Notre Dame. Second, this game is in Boise State .
CMU considers it the biggest game in the history of their stadium. That is a
tough environment for any team to step into. While the Chippewas have struggled
in two years under former MSU assistant Dan Enos, they return a lot of starters
this season. I don’t expect CMU to pull off the upset, but I think the setting
could make this game a tough one for the Spartans to get past. Mt. Pleasant
Realistic Record – 4-0 – The Spartans have the luxury that the Wolverines don’t in that their two tough games come at home and not on the road. Because of that,
can go 4-0. Does that mean they
will? No. Notre Dame could certainly trip them up, as could Michigan State ,
if the Broncos’ first-year starters can have an immediate impact. Anything less
than 3-1 in this stretch would be a disappointment for MSU. Boise State
Saturday, August 11, 2012
The big news in college football yesterday was LSU dismissing Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman finalist last season and electric player for the Tigers.
Despite losing a skilled player, I suspect LSU has plenty of depth to make up for his loss. SEC teams tend to reload, not rebuild.
But still, that got me thinking. Just how valuable was Mathieu to LSU? Sure he made big plays, but do any of us doubt that the Tigers won’t miss much of a beat in replacing him?
When you look at a number of the top players in the country and many of the Heisman favorites, I don’t think there is any single player that is more valuable to his team than
Taking Robinson off the
Michigan roster would have a greater impact
than removing any single player from another team.
You have the likes of USC’s Matt Barkley or Landry Jones at
Oklahoma, but those
programs have proven to develop great quarterbacks year-after-year.
Clemson’s’ Sammy Watkins is lightning in a bottle, but he doesn’t touch the ball on every play like Robinson does.
In 2010, Robinson pretty much was the
Michigan offense, rushing for 1,702 yards
and 14 TD’s while throwing for 2,570 yards and 18 scores.
Last year, Brady Hoke adjusted how Robinson was used, but he still posted 2,173 passing yards with 20 TD’s and 1,176 rushing yards with 16 scores.
While nobody will call Robinson the definition of what you expect a quarterback to be, he has all the quickness and speed of an elite running back with an above-average arm.
If Watkins had the ability to throw the ball like Robinson, don’t you think Clemson would put him behind center?
Robinson has been so vital to
Michigan’s offense over the last few years,
it is interesting to think about just what the Wolverines will look like
without him next season.
The debate on Robinson is always going on as some feel he shouldn’t be a quarterback and others feel the numbers speak for themselves. Pat Caputo points that out in his latest column.
Brady Hoke recognizes the importance of having your best player get the ball as much as possible, but he also wants to limit the hits he takes.
Regardless, I think it is best to let Robinson do his thing. He makes some mistakes with his passing, no question.
He also has the ability to score on every play, which he has shown time after time.
His “home run” ability is what makes him stand out as more valuable than any other player in college football.
Friday, August 10, 2012
The junior quarterback from
Midland is coming into his first season as
starting quarterback, and doing so with a team that is largely primed to
contend for a Big Ten Championship.
If Maxwell is able to handle the pressure, the Spartans should continue their trend of being one of the top teams in the Big Ten. If he can’t handle it, they will likely take a step back.
Maxwell will be the third first-year starting quarterback Dantonio has had during his time as head coach of the Spartans. In both previous cases, things have went pretty well in regards to performance.
In 2007, Dantonio’s first year as coach, Brian Hoyer was the first-year starter for the Spartans. He posted solid numbers of 2,725 passing yards with 20 TD’s and 11 INT’s. He received Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors, but MSU went just 7-6 overall with a 3-5 conference record.
In 2009, Kirk Cousins overcame an in-season quarterback battle and was the starter throughout the year. He threw for 2,680 yards with 19 TD’s and 9 INT’s. Again, MSU didn’t have a great record, as they went just 6-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten.
With Maxwell being a junior, you have to expect that he won’t be as rattled to be the starter as a freshman would be. Learning from Cousins over the past few years should help with his composure and confidence.
One of the big challenges Maxwell has is the young receivers he will work with. MSU lost their top four receivers from a year ago, so this year’s receivers will be unproven as well. They do have
Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett in the
mix, but he also has a lot to prove.
One thing going for Maxwell is that he has a much better overall team than Hoyer or Cousins had in their first year as a starter.
MSU returns four starters on the offensive line and has a reliable starting back in Le’Veon Bell. Add in some solid backup backs, and the running game should help take pressure off of Maxwell.
Also, the MSU defense shouldn’t be a group that allows a great deal of points. Maxwell will likely not be asked to take part in a number of shootouts, so as long as he plays a smart, conservative game, he can give the Spartans a chance to win each week.
While anyone’s initial reaction to a new starting quarterback is to expect a big drop off, I personally think that Maxwell is walking into a pretty good situation and could be an above average starting quarterback.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
There isn’t a program in the country that doesn’t have “off the field issues” involving players.
Some more serious than others.
Some involving more talented players than others.
The conundrum always comes with handing out punishment. It is a tight spot for the coaches of the program because their decisions are reflected in two key ways.
1. If you punish a big star, it could result in losses, which ultimately impacts the coach’s job.
2. If you fail to hold a big star accountable, it sends the message to the other players that they can get away with making mistakes as long as they produce on the field.
Brady Hoke finds himself is this very spot right now as running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is suspended from the team currently due to a DUI arrest in the offseason. Defensive end Frank Clark is also suspended from the team after being charged with second-degree home invasion.
Clark has some promise and can help the team, but
Toussaint is really the focus here.
is to be successful, it is believed that Toussaint will be a big part of that.
He rushed for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns last season and took a lot of the
pressure of Denard Robinson in both the run and pass game.
Toussaint will also be very valuable and necessary if
Michigan hopes to contend with Alabama in the season opener. Even if he is
on the field, it will be a big uphill climb for the Wolverines to win.
So, the question is, what does Hoke do? Do you keep Toussaint from playing the season opener, or perhaps even longer? Or, does missing some of training camp equate to a worthy punishment?
Hoke sent a big message last year by redshirting Darryl Stonum for the 2011 season following his second DUI arrest. Many applauded the move and I also feel it sent a good message to his players about being accountable (Stonum ultimately would be dismissed from the team for good in January for another incident off the field).
But now, Hoke’s punishment of Stonum must equate properly to the likes of Toussaint and Clark. I am not saying Toussaint should sit the year. It was a first offense. But, I am not sure missing just one game sends a clear message.
What Hoke does with Toussaint will go a long way in defining his character. Given his track record, I expect Hoke will do the right thing, and not just in a figurative sense.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
One of the big misconceptions about the MSU-Michigan rivalry right now is MSU’s current winning streak over the Wolverines and what it means in the grand scheme of things.
While I clearly state that the Spartans have the edge on the Wolverines coming into the season due to the four-game winning streak, it doesn’t change the fact that MSU has a long way to go to catch up to Michigan on the overall spectrum of success.
Proof of that is this quote from Mark Dantonio at MSU’s Media Day on Monday. (From MSUSpartans.com)
I think we're in a position of contention. We always are. I think we are moving along. When you talk about where we wanted to go when we first came here, what we wanted to try to accomplish, we said want to build a foundation. We keep trying to build a foundation to try to get to that Rose Bowl. We're not there yet. We haven't made it there yet, but that's our goal.
They haven’t appeared in a Rose Bowl since 1988 and have only been to four in the history of the program.
Michigan, by comparison, has been to 20 Rose
Bowls and won eight of them.
expectations today aren’t necessarily for a national title either, as they
attempt to get back to where they were in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they
have been there before.
In fact, prior to the arrival of Rich Rodriguez, fans grew tired of Lloyd Carr for his inability to get
Michigan into the national title picture.
Rose Bowl appearances had become more than just an expectation, they were a
standard. That is what put Michigan
into the elite of college football.
But it starts with an outright Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance. The Spartans probably need a Rose Bowl victory to really step up to that next level, but right now the hopes of the program are on a trip to
When the day comes that
State is contending for national
titles and making Rose Bowl appearances more often than not, that is the day
fans can truly worry.
Monday, August 6, 2012
I knew when this blog got started that I would hear a lot of complaints from people. It’s part of the job.
But, my last post on The Little Brother Scale got a lot of reaction, mostly negative from the Wolverine fan base.
The biggest argument that was used was “You can’t count those games because Rich Rodriguez was a terrible coach.”
Well, I am sorry, but that argument doesn’t hold any water.
First off, he was your coach, point blank. He was hired by
Michigan and most all of
you, myself included, expected him to be very successful and to take the
Wolverines to a new level of success on the national scale.
While it didn’t work out and he clearly didn’t fit into the
Michigan persona, he was still the coach and lost all
three meetings with . You can’t change
Secondly, if you are going to play that card, you open the door for Spartan fans to fire right back with the John L. Smith and Bobby Williams claims.
Those two seemed as lost as any coaches on the sidelines and they resulted in a number of losses (some close, some not so close) to the Wolverines.
The point is, you can’t just decided which games count and which games don’t because of who the coach is. You hired the guy, you live with the results. The 2008-10 seasons happened whether you want to acknowledge them or not. And, your program is still affected by those seasons when it comes to player personnel.
Just like Mark Dantonio, Brady Hoke has to recruit a roster to his liking to fully turn the
program into what his vision for it is.
I like what Hoke did with the Wolverines last year, but it is just one year. He still has to prove that the winning will continue.
Dantonio has led MSU to 9 wins or more in three of his last four seasons.
I am hesitant to say both teams have great coaches just because Hoke is only in his second year, but he seems to have the Wolverines back on track for success.
That makes this year’s MSU-Michigan game even more interesting.
What if the Spartans win? Will
Michigan fans admit that MSU is the better
team, or will there be another asterisk they want to attach to the game?
For State fans, does Brady Hoke scare you? Are you concerned that the four-game win streak was just an anomaly in time and now
Michigan is back to take
My guess, and my hope, is that both teams will continue to be a national force that will produce impactful and exciting games year after year. I think that is when the rivalry is truly at its best.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
"Sometimes, you get your little brother excited when you're playing basketball – let them get the lead…..And then you come back."
Who knew that quote from Mike Hart on Nov. 3, 2007 could be so impactful.
Was it necessary to say? No.
Was it the truth at the time? Yes.
At that time, the perception in the state to those not entrenched in the rivalry was that MSU was inferior to
Michigan, or the “little brother” to the
But since that quote, the tables have started to turn.
Head Coach Mark Dantonio has almost adopted an inferiority complex in his absolute dislike for
and Hart’s quote. That passion has carried the Spartans to a new level and
control in the state’s biggest rivalry.
Has Hart’s quote ultimately become some sort of curse for the Wolverines? Probably not. But, it sure did wake a sleeping giant in
As the 2012 season is set to begin, I thought it would be fun to take the “little brother” quote and use it as a measuring stick each week following the games of both teams.
While MSU has a long way to go to catch
in the overall history of both programs (i.e. winning national championships
and regular BCS bowl appearances), there is little doubt that State has the
superior product on the field right now compared to Michigan.
The Wolverines may be winning the recruiting battle, but I don’t factor that in. Wins and losses are what matter the most. If the recruiting pans out and develops as it should, it will show on the field.
Right now, the Spartans are in the head of the Wolverines.
Michigan fans, players,
and coaches can deny it all they want, but they are.
That MSU defense looms large over the abilities of Denard Robinson. A potential fifth straight loss to MSU, in the Big House no less, has the Wolverine world anxious about the Oct. 20 meeting.
Right now, MSU is the talented junior in high school that is seeking a championship to validate his talents.
Michigan is the freshman with a lot of
potential, but not been good enough to beat his older brother.
THE LITTLE BROTHER SCALE: MSU 17,
Friday, August 3, 2012
Brady Hoke said it best earlier this summer.
Like many college football coaches, they are too wrapped up in their own team to truly focus on the other programs around the country, especially on Saturdays.
Yet Hoke, like the majority of coaches in the FBS, have a vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Hoke openly admitted that he fills out his weekly poll with the help of his staff and sports information department, as most do.
But, as the 2012 USA Today Preseason Poll was released yesterday, of course, fans have to be up in arms.
The Wolverines came in 8th in the poll, ahead of the likes of
Wisconsin (12th), Nebraska (16th),
and Notre Dame (24th).
Oh, and by the way, and
was 13th. Michigan State
Now, Spartan fans are already raising the red flag, claiming disrespect.
How can you beat a team four times in a row and be behind them in the preseason poll?
While the argument is valid, ultimately who cares?
Not to go all “Jim Schwartz”, but when the day comes that being ranked higher in a preseason poll means you win the head-to-head meeting that year, that’s when you should care.
The fact is
has the name power that doesn’t. Michigan
Sure, State has won the last four meetings, and asserted itself as a legit Big Ten contender year-in and year-out, but it still is looking to break into the big time and really establish itself as a dominant program in the
Not to say that
currently is, but it once was. Just as Notre Dame was. Sometimes that naming
power gives you certain advantages, like higher rankings and priority when it
comes to BCS bowl selection.