Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bloody Hell

So that was fun. If not completely unsurprising. You could tell in the first 3 minutes that Sauer was going to have to have a performance like MTU's goalie did if Michigan was going to have a shot in this game. They were all over us in the first period but Sauer was outstanding to keep it 0-0. Michigan was spending so much time keeping the puck out of their net that there wasn't a lot of time left over for offense.

Then Fragner, one of the walkon forwards, takes a stupid hitting from behind penalty (that was actually legit....of course by that token so were Sterling's and Sweatt's but neither of them got tossed) and they score with under a minute left in the first period. And in pure Sun Belt Conference fashion, the officials ejected Swystun instead of Fragner--which was later corrected even though Swystun had already taken off all his gear. No truth to the rumor that Lloyd Carr had to call timeout to get the call reversed. That goal really hurt. Then Dunlap has a bad giveaway in our end on a power play, suddenly it's 2-0 and the game's basically over.

The rest of the team responded by taking some stupid penalties leading to more CC goals (Bailey's hook and Hensick's slash were just stupid and they made us pay). Hunwick played a stupid hockey game, and if his brother is reading this he probably wants to kick my ass for yet again stating the obvious. With that many walkons and down that many forwards, you can't let a team like that get power plays and we kept putting them a man up.

I'd have a hard time blaming either goalie for what happened tonight, and I hope they go with Sauer tomorrow, because even though we played like hell, I think we're still probably good enough to beat Tech, as long as we don't let Chris Conner loose.

Like I said before, there's just no point in playing in that tournament. You can't play down 2 of our 3 best forwards and 3 of our best 4 defensemen and expect to win games.

MacVoy brought a lot of energy in the early going but then I didn't see a whole lot of him the rest of the game. He was out there hitting people and getting the crowd into it. I like that kid and I hope he gets more of a shot.

One thing I forgot about football: 31, 34, 28, 45, 30, 28, 38, 32. What are those numbers? The number of points we've given up in our bowl game since the national championship year. That's completely unacceptable and it means for 8 straight seasons, Jim Hermann's defense has been shredded despite having a month to prepare. Yes we won a few of those games, but that is faaar too many points to be giving up every time we face a top-notch (in most cases) team. Especially with that kind of time to prepare. It's not too much to ask to hold a team under 4 TDs is it?

Edit: This is from an article on

Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters, whose officials refereed the game won by Nebraska, took calls from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg on Thursday.

Waters assured them he would take officiating complaints seriously and would file the required report, ESPN's Joe Schad reported. Waters said officiating in the Sunbelt was "pretty good" this year. A Sun Belt crew worked the Champs Sports Bowl this year with "no complaints," Waters said.

Good. There needs to be accountability when someone screws up their job that badly.

The lesson to be learned is this: Don't go to the freaking Alamo Bowl and you won't have to deal with Sun Belt conference officials. Hell, they're so inept they don't have the email address right for their Director of Football Officials on their homepage.

What a Shocker THAT was....

So wait, Michigan lost a game that they were leading in the fourth quarter, Chad Henne was great at times, incredibly shaky at times, Avant made a few great catches but one big mistake, the offensive line didn't help (albeit a banged up OL), Rivas shanked a field goal inside 30 yards, Breaston was great on returns but completely invisible in the offense itself, the defense was good but not quite good enough, and we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again?? Take out the blitzing and I'd say that was pretty much every other Michigan loss rolled into one.

The Penn State fans can forever shut up now because that was as big of a screw-job as I've ever seen. Though, to be fair they didn't screw us because they were all from Nebraska, or they were Big 12 refs...they were just completely incompetent. NU had a few calls go against them (mainly the flag on the punt return when the guy clobbered Breaston) that probably shouldn't have, but the majority of the doozies were in their favor.

I'm not going to rehash all the horrid calls in this game. God knows everyone saw it. When the play-by-play man says "This is the worst officiated game I have ever seen." you know it's bad.

If they're going to have instant replay in college football then they need to figure out how the hell to use it or get rid of it altogether. My preference is to go to an NFL-system and put the challenges in the hands of the coaches. That way, if something isn't reviewed and it should be, it's the coach's fault for not throwing the flag. It blows my mind that Lloyd could have to use not one, but two timeouts in the second half to get plays reviewed that should have been no-brainers to go upstairs on. And the more times I see the replay, the less I think that Henne actually fumbled. Last night I thought you could definitely make a case for him throwing an open hand, but the angle they showed today on Sportscenter made me think he actually threw it forward.

And the last play...holy crap! That actually almost worked! Made the end of the game really exciting, but how is there not a flag for too many men on the field? Even if you throw one on Michigan as well and have them be offsetting and have the game end, that's fine, but that's just more evidence that those guys were completely in over their heads.

I'll let everyone else break the game down more since I don't have the stomach to watch these losses over again.

Michigan's GLI game is about to get underway and I have a feeling it's not going to be pretty. I suppose we could be alright on offense. They do still have Hensick, Kolarik, Kal, and Ebbett amongst others, and we still have our goalie, but our defense is going to be Michigan Tech-bad (that is a new adjective after watching MTU give up 60 shots to MSU in the opener tonight). Hunwick absolutely HAS to stay out of the box tonight. And he better be ready to play about 35 minutes of hockey. I would also love for Montville or Dunlap to show enough that they can challenge Cook for the 6th defense spot but I highly doubt that's going to happen.

Anyway, I have a feeling there's going to be too much Sertich and Sterling tonight and sadly not enough Hunwick, since he can't play 60. Luckily the Pistons and Heat are on if this one gets too ugly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

God That Lions Win Hurt....

Detroit may have done themselves a big-time favor by beating New Orleans last weekend. Yes, it hurts Detroit's draft position somewhat by winning that game, but in the process, they may have succeeded in keeping Reggie Bush out of the NFC North. Had the Lions won that game, Green Bay would have needed just a loss to Seattle, a Houston victory over San Francisco, and some of the favorites this weekend to win to end up with the #1 pick. As it stands now, Green Bay also needs New Orleans to beat the Bucs in Tampa, with the division on the line for the Buccaneers and that's just more than likely not going to happen.

Faede on Packerchatters put up an exceptional post about the draft scenarios that he's been updating. Basically if most of the favorites win this weekend, the tiebreaker between Green Bay, the Jets, and the 49ers should slide to the Packers' favor. They'll need slightly more to go right in order to beat out the Texans, should the Texans beat SF. As long as the Lions don't upset Pittsburgh, and as long as Kansas City beats Cincinnati the Packers should be in pretty good shape to get at worst a top 3 pick...provided they don't beat Seattle of course.

New Orleans is sitting pretty to get the #1 pick as long as the Texans beat San Fran, which I think they will. Houston has played pretty much everyone tough down the stretch and SF is a pathetic football team. The Saints strength of schedule is so bad, it'd be real difficult for Green Bay to make up that many games (if not impossible). But having the Saints picking 1st and GB picking second may not be that bad. New Orleans' best player is their running back, so they may not take Reggie Bush. They may opt for Leinart instead, being that they don't like Aaron Brooks and it's obvious Boumann isn't the answer. And if they want Leinart, I have a hard time believing that they could feel safe trading down past 2. If Houston wins, it's going to make for a very interesting next few months.

In the meantime, the World Junior Championships are underway, and the Wolverine players are off to good starts. Kevin Porter, who is captain of the USA Team, scored a goal and tallied 3 assists last night as USA won 11-2 over Norway. Chris Bourque was the story with 5 goals. Yikes. Originally I had seen 5-1--6 for Bourque and 1-4--5 for Porter, but I guess things changed. Jack Johnson had 2 assists in the game as well. Cogliano also notched 2 assists for Canada in their opener.

Quick thoughts on the first period of USA's opener (that's all I saw): Jack Skille's goal was just sick. I hope Erik Johnson never makes it to Minnesota (though we're already really lucky that Mueller didn't). I hope Kessel goes pro soon so I can root for him again because I love watching him play. Jack, Erik Johnson, Kessel, and Bourque in a 4 on 4? Not nice USA. Not nice at all.

And not only does the IIHF hate Firefox, but they also have no clue what team Andrew Cogliano plays for. In another link, they said he was playing for MSU, but that appears to have been corrected, unless I'm looking at the wrong link.

The Viking Cup is also going on right now, and future Wolverines Trevor Lewis, Tristin Llewellyn and Steven Kampfer are on the USA team. Lewis had 3 goals in the opener, one in each period. The box score indicates he got ejected for boarding in the second period, but he somehow scored 2 goals after the infraction. Go figure. Maybe this tournament is run by Kush Sports, since in NHL 2k6, you can have a player get seriously injured, but continue playing until the game is over. None of our guys tallied any points in USA's 7-2 win over Germany today. They'll take on the Swiss in 2 days. The USA WJC team takes on the Finns tomorrow. Should be an easy win since I don't think Neil or Tim opted to play.

One last note about our hockey team, yet another recruit for 2007. Aaron Palushaj, a teammate of 06 commit Trevor Lewis, has committed to the Wolverines. Bob Miller indicated that he's a pure goal scorer. Lewis currently leads the team in scoring (ahead of Minnesota uber-recruit Kyle Okposo) with a 19-16--35 line in 26 games. Palushaj has 6-14--20 in 26 games and is 5th on the team.

Friday, December 23, 2005

T-Lew to the Blue

Good stuff on The Wolverine board today. Trevor Lewis, a forward for the Des Moines Buccaneers committed to Michigan over BC and OSU amongst others. He's 6'1" 200, adding to the size-movement in Ann Arbor. They'll have some more stuff after the weekend, but the best part of the thread was when a BC fan asked about how Jack Johnson was progressing. Bob Miller's response:

Johnson was SO good in his first few games that expectations got a little out of hand. He's displayed some typical freshman mistakes, but they're almost always mistakes of commission rather than omission. He's a game-breaker waiting to happen each time he's on the ice. The occasional defensive lapse or overzealous physical play is far outweighted by his strong presence.

Very, very strong chance that he'll be a two-year player, a least. Things have started pointing in that direction over the last month or so. Apparently, Johnson is absolutely loving the college experience and is not all that anxious to give up the opportunity to enjoy his years in Ann Arbor. Also, his father is REALLY enjoying having Jack play at Michigan. Never underestimate the influence a parent can have in pushing a kid to grab the bucks early. I think Jack will receive parental encouragement to "scratch" the "college itch" for as long as he desires.

Even Hunwick, who most thought was a goner next year, may be sticking around next year. Hensick is simply way too hard to read at this point.

Yee! Ha! I had heard all along that he wanted to stay four, and that people would be surprised at what the family would encourage him to do and whatnot, but we heard the 4 year thing out of Komo too. Personally, I'm thrilled we're very possibly getting 2 years out of Jack Johnson. That kid is so fun to watch.

Canada's world junior team knocked off Russia 8-1 (!!!) last night in exhibition play. Cogliano had a goal and 2 assists.

On the other end of the fun spectrum, Rasheed Wallace's cousin was killed in a shootout with cops after an undercover cop bought drugs from him and then identified himself as a policeman.

US Hockey...It's Sad This is the Best We've Got

I don't like our team all that much. I think we're really shaky in net (any of the 3 goalies for Canada could start for our team uncontested). DiPietro is gonna be a good goalie, but he's really not off to a good start this year. The guy they were hyping up before the year (Conklin) has been so bad this year they didn't take him. And Esche has been banged up.

Our defense is pretty good, but there's no way Derian Hatcher should be on that team. Not because I don't think he's a good player, but because they play on ice that's a lot bigger than the NHL sized rinks and slow defensemen are going to be a liability out there. And Derian has never been accused of having any speed. By the same token, I'm not sure how well Chelios is going to do on the big ice, but he's probably the captain so they'd have a hard time leaving him off...

Up front, I can't believe they didn't put Roenick on the team (though he might not have played anyway since he's hurt now...and he's kind of a dick). Apart from Modano though, there's not a real elite talent at forward. Tkachuk has been injured, Weight's been injured. Gionta's having a great year, but I don't know if you can have your go-to-guy be 5 foot 6. They've got a bunch of really nice 3rd line players and role players, but they just don't have the top-notch talent that I think is going to get it done. Who's going to put the puck in the net on this team?

At this point, I'd be very surprised if we even medal. Though re-enforcements are coming. By 2010/2014 you're going to see a much better Team USA, once some of these Americans who have been playing for the US Junior team get old enough to play. Montoya, Howard, Ryan Miller in net, Phil Kessel, Jack Johnson, Jack Skille, Peter Mueller, Erik Johnson. Those are all really high end players that just don't have the experience. Yet.

The World Junior Championships is just getting going, and the US is heavy favorites for the first time ever (we won in an upset a couple years ago). That bodes well for the future of US hockey. But when Lake Superior State is the best represented college on the USA team, you know that your guys are getting up there in years.

Canada's team is just sick. I really think they could make 2 or 3 teams capable of winning a goal medal. When you're leaving guys like Crosby, Shanahan, Belfour, Joseph off the team, you know your country is pretty darn good.

Nice to see a lot of Wings on rosters again, though I don't know how for the life of me Shanahan and Holmstrom didn't get selected. I still can't believe Mikael Samuelsson is off to the start that he's off to. What a great find by Ken Holland (See, I can give him credit).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2 Quick Hits

I'm exhausted so just 2 quick hits tonight.

1) Samkon Gado is done for the year with a torn MCL. That makes 6 Packer running backs on IR and leaves the duties now to Tony Fisher and Noah Herrion (The dude from Northwestern last year, apparently. Ask me if I remotely remember him.) That's just comical. I've never seen anything like this.

2) Went to the Wings game tonight. Shootouts are just awesome. Kudos to the NHL for putting them in, and even more kudos for making sure they won't appear in the playoffs. Datsyuk really might not ever miss in a shootout. Osgood still sucks. And you can't appreciate how hard Mikael Samuelsson shoots on TV. That guy has got an absolute LASER. I have no idea how he didn't break out until now. Loved that Shanny scored so I could hear the jig.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not Ready For Primetime Players?

Michigan missed a golden opportunity to go Michael Jordan and say "We're back." yesterday, falling to UCLA in a game that wasn't well-played by either team. There wasn't a whole lot of trading baskets going on. It was mostly Michigan run, UCLA run, Michigan run, UCLA run, Michigan run. UCLA had the big one to put them up by double digits and Michigan's valient effort to come back wasn't quite enough.

UCLA's guards were too much for Michigan, and the Wolverines weren't able to find an answer to UCLA double-teaming their bigs. Actually I shouldn't say that. They found the answer--wide open three-pointers--but weren't able to execute.

That being said, I'm not ready to hit the panic button like a lot of people on The Wolverine are. Michigan had a bad game. It happens. Yes it sucks that it happened the first time we played a "real" team, but you can't watch that game and say that Michigan lost because they were facing a more-talented opponent. If Michigan has even a decent day from downtown (and it's not like UCLA had a hand in their face and was making Michigan miss shots) they win that game going away. At one point in the second half, UCLA was 10 of 20 from behind the arc and Michigan was 2 of 18. That's not going to get it done, especially when probably 14 of those 18 were high-quality looks.

Horton was awful yesterday, he and Brown were battling foul-trouble the whole day, Lester still doesn't look like the Lester of old, and our bench (save for Chris Hunter) didn't remotely help. And even with abysmal shooting and a rash of horrid turnovers, if Rockbiter doesn't throw away that outlet pass, Michigan has a chance to cut the lead to 2 with what? a minute remaining?

What was shocking to me was the lack of defense out on the arc. UCLA's guards were getting way too many quality looks from downtown. For a team that prides itself on perimeter defense, we didn't do a very good job for big portions of the game.

But it was a good time at Crisler--nice to see the place pretty well packed even if most of the fans were silent for big portions of the game. I expect it to be pretty well full for most of the Big 10 games, and if/when Michigan makes the Tourney, the fans will come back in droves.

I still think this is a pretty good basketball team, and one that will probably end up in the Top 25 before too much more time goes by. I walked out of that game feeling like that was a game Michigan should have won. And it sucks that they didn't pull it off, but it's nice to watch us take on a top 15 team and have that feeling coming away. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that. If they make open shots, they win. And it forces UCLA to stop doubling the bigs, which opens things up for Sims inside. Instead, the guards were off and the bigs were ineffective. And they still had a pretty darn good chance to win.

It feels good to be able to be excited about college basketball again. Time to regroup and make sure we hit the Big 10 at 10-1. That's what I expected, and it's still very doable.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Back on the Map?

We're about 17 hours away from tipping off Michigan/UCLA in a game that could put Michigan basketball back on the map. I don't want to overstate it too much, but with a win tomorrow, Michigan will be ranked for the first time in God only knows how long. Lose, and there's still a long way to go in the season, but we'll have to hear the nay-sayers (read: Spartan fans) talking about the cake schedule and whatnot until at least the middle of January. It's been a long time coming, and I'd love to see all the hard work Tommy Amaker (and this team) have put in finally pay off. I like our chances tomorrow, and even though my seats suck, I'm looking forward to being there.

The Red Wings dropped one last night, thanks to yet another broken stick of Andreas Lilja and the Chris Osgood we all remember showing up once again. Stand on your head, stand on your head, HORRIBLY WEAK GOAL, stand on your head, stand on your head, HORRIBLY WEAK GOAL, stand on your head, stand on your head, OT goal you were screened on but only made a half-hearted effort to stop, throw the arms out to the side, look up at the defenseman like "What, I was supposed to stop that?"

I didn't see the GWG against Atlanta, but I've been told it was just awful. That was a weird hockey game, and thus is life in the new NHL. Previously, there would have been no shot at coming back from down 4 goals. Now, it seems like it happens fairly frequently. Babcock's decision to take Howard out in that game was an odd one. It was only 3-2 and it wasn't like they were still in the first period. It was around the middle of the second period and it's not like he was majorly at fault on any of the goals. Not that Jimmy probably makes a difference on those PPGs. It was an odd time to make a goalie switch though, especially considering he later said that it wasn't to spark the team.

As expected, Andrew Cogliano made the Canadian World Junior team further decimating the Michigan team for the GLI. That TSN article says that Cogliano was the most impressive forward at the selection camp. Hopefully the WJC can spring him to a stellar second half. And hopefully none of our guys come down with mono.

Sticking with Michigan hockey, Mike Spath had an outstanding post on the Yost Post today that was Inside the Fort-esque in its content. One comment that I thought was particularly interesting:
A few surprises/positives. Everyone is very happy with the Mark Mitera/David Rohlfs pairing. Rohlfs might be the biggest surprise of the first half because he has more than held his own, while Mitera has quietly gone about his bizness and gotten the job done. Coaches very pleased with those two.
The next time I get the blockquote tool to work on the first try without having to go in and edit extra lines will be the first...The quote is further evidence to me that Johnson and Hunwick should be split up and each paired with one of the above duo. I'd prefer to see Johnson/Mitera because they've played together in the past, but either way is good. Have one offensive guy and one stay-at-home guy on each pairing. It maximizes Johnson and Hunwick's offensive effectiveness and probably means less goals against in the process. I have a longer post about my thoughts here. He also mentioned that the word around Yost is that it seems increasingly likely that Johnson will be back next year. I'm sure Carolina is thrilled. Anaheim still screwed up not drafting him, even if it takes 4 years to get him in a pro uniform.

And courtesy of MGoBlog, through Russian5 a link to a great article about Cogliano. This one was really well done, with the exception being that it says we got swept by Minnesota. Don't need any extra losses to them thank you very much. Bonus points for Brian for remembering that coked-out Canadian called him "Drew Cogs"...forgot about that and it was hilarious.

Larry Harrison, who used to play defensive tackle for Michigan when he wasn't busy pounding the pud on girls' porches, was convicted of being a sexually delinquent person yesterday. He faces 1 day to life in jail for the offense(s). Still one of the strangest stories I can remember.

Darrell Russell, ex-DT for USC and the Oakland Raiders was killed in a car wreck yesterday. He and an ex-Trojan teammate were both killed in the crash. I don't mean to make light of the situation, but check out the AP's account of the crash:
[The car] went out of control about 6 a.m. and hit a curb, tree, newsstand, fire hydrant, light pole, another tree and an unoccupied transit bus.
That has to be some kind of record. I can't even fathom how fast that car must have been travelling.

And the IRL is basically a spec-series now. No that isn't a comment about the nationalities of their drivers, you freaking racist. It just means that with Toyota's early exit from the series Honda is the only engine out there, Firestone is the only tire out there now. The only difference between the teams is the chassis. And the engines will be leased now, meaning that theoretically it should all be random. No more huge AGR advantage unfortunately.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Quick Thoughts on the Wings/Pens

This game is showing what a joke the Pittsburgh organization is. They haven't been playing Fleury all this time so they wouldn't have to shell out bonus money? That team would be solidly in the playoffs right now (granted it's still real early) if he had been up with them all along. That kid is just phenomenal. 28 saves already and this game could easily be about 6-0.

Or maybe about 6-4. Osgood has played really well tonight. Even though he's only made about 8 saves late in the second, probably 4 of them have been really nice stops. See, I can give him credit when it's actually due. Of course, having said that he'll probably give up 2 awful goals in the 3rd.

Zetterberg is a pleasure to watch. That shortie was beautiful. What a move! I can't wait until the Wings finally get into a shootout because it's going to be fun to see what he and Datsyuk come up with.

Crosby's been pretty quiet tonight.

Can't Root Against 'Em

Thoughts from Michigan's blowout win over UNO Saturday night:

First off, didn't need that DQ for Rohlfs. Geezus. Terrible call too IMO. Didn't see Rohlfs throw a punch (Parse did--and he started that whole fight--and he wasn't the UNO player that got tossed) Those guys should've gotten roughing calls and 10 minute misconducts and that would've been the end of it. Then again, he tossed those guys and still lost control of the game. Gotta think Red's not happy about that call. Him and Pio were having a chat after the game by our bench.

We have 3 D for the CC game now...Hunwick, Dest and Cook? Yikes. Apparently Fardig never played defense for USA--could've sworn he did. But yeah. We're gonna get smoked by CC. I believe all of those walkons that we brought in are going to dress for the CC game.

That Ebbett, Kal, Bailey line is awesome. Those guys had a killer weekend. Definitely Bailey's best by far. I love the grit there. They're all tenacious, they all can play in their own end, and they showed they can all put the puck in the net.

Cogliano's shortie was just sick. That was Fedorovesque right there.

I was happy to see MacVoy get in there, but he didn't really do anything that stood out. He'll get a chance in the GLI though. I still think he can be a nice player if they give him a chance.

Linesmen awful again. Pio joined them in the third period though.

Couldn't fault Sauer on either goal. Parse's was essentially a breakaway and Thomas's was a giveaway by Johnson when he was in cold. We hang that kid out to dry way too much. He made a couple of huge saves--as did Ruden when he came in.

Good effort Saturday night. They started off poorly giving up those two goals that shouldn't have happened, but overall played a pretty darn good game. If it weren't for Rohlfs getting tossed (did I mention that was a crappy call??) I'd be feeling pretty darn good right now. Now I'm thinking about a 4-5 goal loss to CC. Ugh. If you're in a fantasy college hockey league, take all the Tigers you can get.

What we should do for the GLI: They have to at least consider moving someone like Ebbett or Fardig back to defense. I actually just typed Kevin Porter's name, but whoops! World Juniors. I can't see them going in with 3 walkons and a Tim Cook back there. And if they put 2 of the competent dmen together (I guess that'd be Hunwick and Dest) to defend Sertich and Sterling, the other 2 defense pairings will be god-awful. Hunwick and Dest better be ready because each of them is going to be playing close to 30 against CC. Apart from that, all I can say is make sure Huddy is out there vs. their big line and tell the walkons to just throw it off the glass out of the zone whenever they can. Then pray the goalie (be it Sauer or Ruden) has the game of his life and the forwards can chip in with 3 or 4 goals. Lord.

The Packers pulled one out in OT against the Lions last night, proving that even in their worst season since Favre's been around, they can still beat the Lions in Wisconsin. Yes the Lions got screwed on that non-safety call (though the call of it not being intentional grounding was correct). But at the same time, the Lions had what? 4 possessions inside GB's 5 yard line and came away with 13 points? That's not gonna get it done. Jauron could've put the game-winning points on the board and he didn't do it. And I'm not convinced that Roy Williams actually caught the ball on that touchdown. I can see there not being enough video evidence to overturn it, but from the low angle it sure did look like he bobbled that ball when he was going out of bounds (after it hit him in the facemask).

I'm still not convinced that Samkon Gado is a #1 running back in the NFL, but that kid can play in this league. He's improved a ton since he's been there. His vision last night was excellent and even after seeing him play a few times, I wasn't expecting the burst that he was showing. His long TD run was outstanding, and that carry he had on 4th and 1 when he cut outside when there was nothing up the middle was just a great run. He's still a little tentative and he fumbles too much (he coughed another one up last night even though the whistle blew), but I imagine he'll improve the more carries he gets. 600 all purpose yards and 7 TDs ain't shabby for a guy with only 4 starts (essentially 5) under his belt. He's a solid #2 if nothing else, and if he keeps improving, that kid could be a starter. He's fast, he seems to have good vision, and he's a load to bring down.

The win was dampened by the fact that Brady Poppinga, the rookie LB that seems/seemed to have a bright future blew out his knee and probably won't be playing again until well into next season. But the win puts GB in prime AJ Hawk territory, to fulfill their white linebacker needs.

Robert Ferguson is nuts. Check out this doozy:
"I'm definitely one of the top 10 receivers in the league. You know me, I've been saying that since Day One," he said. "But I'm not. Nowhere near that. If you're going off production, I'm probably in the bottom echelon of wideouts right now." I'm definitely one of the top ten, but I'm not. Neil Smith would be proud that he "always says what he has to mean."

And the Packers defense is still ranked #1 against the pass, and has risen to #5 overall in the league, just 16 yards behind the Chicago Bears for the top ranking. And the 3-10 Packers have now scored the same number of points as they've given up.

The Houston Texans keep finding ways to lose that previously only the Lions could come up with. After blowing a 10 point lead in 30 seconds to St. Louis and letting Kyle Boller go the length of the field against them in 1 minute last week, this one may have topped the charts. Tied 10-10, they fake a field goal, make it. Then drive to the 19 yard line where a go-ahead field goal is blocked. They let the Titans march down the field and kick a field goal with 10 seconds left. Then, they run the kickoff back about 50 yards, tack on a personal foul facemask. They're on Tennessee's 13 yard line with time for one play......and their kicker shanks a 31 yarder. Give the New York Jets and the Packers credit. At least their took their wins like men yesterday.

And what would the reaction be if Lloyd Carr ever pulled what Norv Turner did yesterday. Down by 16, they score a touchdown with about 8 minutes left....and he kicked the PAT leaving it a 2 score game. Yikes.

Quick hits: Jiri Fischer is happy to be alive. Ron Artest wants to be traded--maybe for Peja?, and Stan Van Jeremy stepped down and Pat Riley will be taking over, in the least shocking story in the NBA this year. Chauncey Billups is LenDale White's cousin.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Michigan 4, UNO 2

My thoughts from last night:

-My group caught it, Brian from mgoblog caught it, and the Yost Post caught it...that play with Johnson and Hunwick at the end of the game was almost a carbon copy of Wisconsin. Can't have breakdowns like that when you're nursing a one goal lead.

-If our defensemen all return next year Cook just isn't going to play. He. Is. AWFUL. I made it a point to watch him every time he was out there last night (to make sure I wasn't piling on the kid). I'm not. The first goal, him and Dest just stood around while Billy made about 3 saves before the goal. He had another play where he let the puck get between his legs and the forward got around to the outside and had a great scoring chance. Then in the third period I feel like every time he was out there, he whiffed on a clearing attempt or gave the puck away. He's scared of contact from other players and he doesn't use his size at all. JUST HIT SOMEONE. He needs to watch a tape of Mark Mitera and see how to play defense even if he's not going to go around killing people. Mitera was in position the entire night.

-I think they need to split up Johnson and Hunwick. Yeah they're probably our two best dmen, but they're also our two best offensive dmen, and there's not a ton of production out there from the other guys. One of them would look great with Mitera because he's always in position on defense. Put the other with Dest or Rohlfs. I don't understand why Dest and Cook were out there in the last 4 minutes. They're brutal. Dest doesn't even hit anymore...not sure what his deal is. Honest to God I'd move Fardig back to D and put MacVoy in the lineup instead of least give it a shot. Digger couldn't do any worse, and he'll at least try to move people!

-Sauer was excellent again last night. First goal wasn't his fault at all (way to stand there and watch, guys) and the second was tipped in by our defenseman, I believe. Kid's a good goalie, we just hang him out to dry wayyyy too much.

-Odd game in that Pio called everything in the first period and then pretty much swallowed the whistle. There was only 1 PP the rest of the game.

-Kolarik was pretty much invisible last night. And where was Joe Grimaldi for UNO?? He didn't play...not sure why.

-I like watching Miller, Turnbull and Naurato. Those guys are always giving good solid efforts out there.

-Probably Bailey's best game as a Wolverine last night. He was out there doing the things that I remember watching him do at USA. Just nailing people.

-Ebbett and Kal were excellent and it showed up on the scoresheet for em.

-Jack Johnson...he nails a shot off the goalie's mask again and then he busts his butt to get back on D and nails the guy who never saw him coming. Whoever that was went off the ice real slow. He also killed someone after they got off a shot on goal. If Cook had even a third of the tenacity of Johnson we'd be pretty well off....

-I thought they did a very nice job overall on Thomas and Parse. Neither one had a point (I believe that's the first time this year Parse hasn't netted a point and only the 2nd time for Thomas) and they were pretty quiet overall. Parse had a couple nice rushes, but they defended them very well.

It wasn't an awe-inspiring effort last night, but I'll take the win to get back on track. Sauer was excellent again, and they did some good things. They just need to be better about getting the puck out of the darn zone, but we've been saying that for a long time now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Unluckiest Team....Ever?

Very interesting article on yesterday. Hidden beneath their power rankings was an article that said that the 2005 Green Bay Packers may be the unluckiest team in NFL history. How do they figure out luck? Basically there's a strong correlation between scoring points, giving up less points, and winning. So someone smarter than me developed a formula that projects a winning percentage based on how many points you've scored vs. given up. Under that formula, the Packers should have a .493 winning percentage, instead of their current .167 percentage. You subtract those two numbers to find the degree of luck. Green Bay is at a -.326, which is the highest number a team has ever had. The current unluckiest team ever is the 1950 Phily Eagles at a -.301.

They also compensated for the Packers 49 point win by removing each team's biggest win and re-running the numbers. They found that under that scenario, the Packers would be the third unluckiest team ever.

Fun stats: If Favre throws for 9 yards this week against the Lions, he will reach 3,000 yards for the 15th time, breaking Dan Marino's record. He also needs one TD to extend his record streak of years with 20 or more TD passes to 12.

The Free Press had an article about Jack Johnson and Sidney Crosby. Jack will be in attendance on Monday night when the Wings take on the Pens.

"I spent the previous week up in Nova Scotia with him playing hockey, so I had to bring my hockey gear to the hotel," Johnson said. "I went to air it out and he had all his shoes on my side, and he had like 10 pairs of shoes.

"He said, 'You can't air that out, the room will stink.' I said, 'Well, move your shoes.' Things started to escalate, so I moved my hockey gear into the closet with the suit he was going to wear to the draft -- just to make him mad. He shoved me out of the way and things escalated. Turned into a pretty big wrestling match."

How sick must that Shattuck team have been? Geezus.

The Wings got one back against NJ the other night and after giving up 2 terrible goals and nearly giving up a goal from the opposing goal line, apparently Osgood's confidence is "growing"...I guess when you've given up a dozen in your last two starts, that's a plus. He sucks.

Ex-Wings prospect BJ Young was killed in a car crash in Vancouver. Don't know what it is about this team and car wrecks. Sad stuff there.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Another Buzzer to Michigan!

Louie Caporusso, a star player on the St. Michael's Buzzers--the same team that produced Andrew Cogliano--has committed to Michigan for the 2007-08 season. Tbarr was all over it, and the St. Mike's website confirms it. According to The Wolverine hockey hotboard, Michigan beat out UNH, BU and Notre Dame for his services. He's 5'10" 182 and will join Tristin Llewellyn and Matt Rust in the 2007 class. Their release compares him to someone that Wolverine fans are getting to know pretty well:
TORONTO, ON (SMCS) - The St. Michael's Buzzers are pleased to announce that 1989 Forward Louie Caporusso (14-26-40 / 31) has committed to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor commencing for the 2007-2008 season. Caporusso is in fine company on the Buzzers with six players and counting (including Caporusso) with commitments to NCAA Division I teams.

Caporusso came to the Buzzers from the Toronto Red Wings organization after being drafted by the St. Michael's Majors in the 10th round of the 2005 OHL Priority Selection. Caporusso is currently the leading point-getter in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League for any 1989 born players with 40 points in 31 games. On the ice, he attracted the attention of teams like Michigan with his quick feet, stellar moves, scoring and setup ability and the ability to take and give physical play in the corners. Many have compared his skills and abilities with a former St. Michael's Buzzers turned Michigan Wolverine, Andrew Cogliano. Caporusso will get his chance in just over 21 months to double up the number of former Buzzers M's that are skating with the University of Michigan Wolverines and to make that comparison first hand.
Another Cogliano huh? I can live with that. He's currently second on the team in scoring behind St. Lawrence bound Mike McKenzie (who has 33-29--62 in 32 games) with 14-26--40 in 31 games. He's netted 5 of those goals on the PP. The Wolverine recruiting focus on the Buzzers now turns to defenseman Brendan Smith (4-18--22 in 29 games). Smith and Pat Kane would look pretty darn good in that class...

At some point during the season, I'm hoping to get up to Toronto with Tbarr to watch those two play. Should be a great time! I hope it works out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Olympics for Yzerman

According to TSN, Steve Yzerman has pulled his name out of consideration for the Canadian Olympic Team. Stevie Y. Class all the way. He's not having the type of season that would warrant mention on the Canadian team, so he pulled his name out even though he would've likely been named otherwise. That's the right move. It opens the door for another player to get a chance, plus he can use the time off to rest up for the playoffs.

Javon Walker has cut ties with Drew Rosenhaus. Good news for Packers fan as I think this increases the chances that they'll extend his contract. I'm firmly on board with extending him despite his injury. If he's willing to take a 2nd tier contract (not Owens or Harrison money) in exchange for not having to go out and prove he's healed (while at the same time not risking further injury) I'd extend him in a second. I think he'll come back just fine, and he's the type of player that you can't lose. If they're going to be breaking in a new QB in the near future, they need to give him some weapons. They've got a ton of cap room for next year. Get it done now.

And I feel like I was missing out by not playing the Miami Hurricanes rap song until now. It's been sitting on my desktop since the story broke, but I didn't play it until yesterday. "This song in its entirety is not meant to disrespect any women in its entirety." Priceless. The lyric about what happens when you multiply the digits in Tavares Gooden's jersey number together? Wow. I've been humming the damn chorus all day. I woke up this morning singing "If your ho only know....." Things like this are why I love the internet so much. And I have the maturity of a six year old.

Another Depressing Weekend

My how I've been neglecting this blog.

Let me lead with the most random stat ever that I never saw coming. Take a guess what NFL team now has the league's #1 pass defense. Here's a hint: They're 2-10 and start Ahmad Carroll and Mark Roman in their secondary. I may be a homer, but I never would have imagined that Green Bay would even be in the top 10 in pass defense this year, let alone #1. And being that their next three games are against Jeff Garthia, Kyle Boller, and Kyle Orton...they've got a pretty darn good chance at holding that title the rest of the year. They have to keep Jim Bates around. I can't imagine what he'd do with some real talent on defense.

The Michigan hockey team did their best MSU impression again this weekend, getting swept by the Miami Red Hawks down in Oxford. Sauer played Friday, Ruden played Saturday. The defense didn't play either night. I didn't get to listen to a ton of either game, but it sounded like more of the same from the last couple weeks. The defense forgetting that they're not the ones that are supposed to be scoring all the goals, Sauer bailing them out, Cook giving the puck away for game-winning goals, stupid penalties, less than stellar special teams. The highlight being the Wolverines giving up 2 shorthanded goals on a single power play. Strong work guys.

Saturday night Jack Johnson knocked a guy down after a Miami goal and got 7 minutes in penalties out of it. Apparently Davis went soccer-player on it, and Brian Aaron bought it. Shock me, shock me. I swear Wilkens and Hall look great to me right now after having dealt with Aaron and McInchak far too much over the last few weeks. Why have we had so much Aaron and so little Piotrowski this year anyway? I don't particularly like Pio, but at least when he does a game, I don't get the feeling that he's making up rules as he goes along. Red wasn't particularly happy with Johnson's ejection. I can't seem to find the quote online, but he said something along the lines of that he thought it was a borderline two minute penalty, and Jack ended up getting 7 for it, and that the refs shouldn't eject a player when it's clear that none of them really saw what happened.

Johnson, Mark Mitera, and Kevin Porter were all named to the USA World Junior team, leaving the Wolverines once again shorthanded for the GLI. Cogliano could make 4 as he leaves Sunday morning to go to Vancouver for the Canadian team's final tryout. No Spartans, Tigers, or Huskies made the teams, so all three schools will be at full strength for the GLI. Michigan will have Tim Cook on their second pairing and 2 walkons as their #5 and #6 defensemen. Awesome. We had a nice discussion yesterday on the Yost Post about if Michigan should even continue to play in the GLI, being that it's at least 1 sure loss (and sometimes 2) every single season. And with one of those losses each year potentially being to MSU, it makes me hate it even more, since none of the Sparties seem to care that it was our #2 goalie and our #7 defenseman screwing up. I mean "Fire Comley".

The Wolverine football team is off to the Alamo Bowl, which is fine with me. Yeah the Outback Bowl probably should've taken us, but really...if we're having an Outback vs. Alamo debate, it wasn't a good season and win over Florida or Nebraska isn't going to make it a good season. I'd rather play a team that we've only played twice since World War 1. Should be a fun matchup even if there's aren't a lot of marbles on the table.

As for Michigan basketball, they're cruising along at 5-0, after a nice comeback win against Notre Dame on the road. There's a very good chance that they will make it through their nonconference schedule unblemished as a home game against UCLA is the only remotely threatening game. Though this is the team that lost 2 years in a row to BU, so maybe we shouldn't be taking the Coppin States of the world for granted just yet. There's reason to be optimistic though, with 10-1 or better a very reasonable expectation for the non-conference slate. Graham Brown was phenomenal against Notre Dame, rockbiting his way to 13 points and 10 boards, and didn't miss a shot, let alone get one sent into the 5th row.

The Red Wings have gotten back to their losing ways after maybe their best effort of the season against the LA Kings last week. The NHL (and NBA for that matter) seems to have made it a point to schedule Detroit games when I can't watch them, so I don't have too many comments other than Jim Howard is awesome. I saw the LA game and most of the NYI game and he played pretty darn well in both. The goal he gave up to Yashin was terrible, but no one is going to tell me that Osgood wouldn't have let it in too. It looks like Osgood is going to start tonight, but Howard seems to have grabbed Mike Babcock's confidence. As for Osgood, another effort or two like he's had lately and his second stint with the Wings might be short-lived. Legace's hurt and it's still not enough to make him the full-time starter here (as Howard has grabbed that job). If they can't count on him as the veteran netminder, then why is he here?

Jiri Hudler will make a return to the lineup tonight, and they're giving him every chance to succeed, as it looks like he'll play with Datsyuk and Shanahan. They're splitting up Zetterberg and Datsyuk to try and create more offense and Z will be playing with Samuelsson and Williams. Lang can't get back soon enough from his groin injury. Fischer had another setback, and I'll be shocked if he ever plays again, let alone this year. He seems to want to continue with his career but to me that's crossing the line into stupidity if they can't figure out what's wrong with his ticker. On the plus side, Niklas Kronwall is skating again, albeit very lightly and not with the team. It looks like he's on track to return sometime in February, which will be much welcomed.

The Pistons, despite never playing home games, have built a 3 1/2 game lead in the strong Central Division (the only division in basketball that has all the teams playing .500 ball or better). According to this week's power rankings on, the Pistons rated their first 18 games as the toughest part of their schedule (12 road games, 2 trips out West and 1 to Texas). So far they're doing just fine at 13-2 with road games against Golden State, the Clippers, and Utah to finish that stretch. They've gotten off to some slow starts, but Rip Hamilton has been phenomenal shooting the ball and Mr. Big Shot has been dropping dimes all year. They're in the middle of a six day break right now that will help heal up Big Ben's 2 ankles. Not exactly sure how the league managed to give them six consecutive days off during the season.

The Packers kept pace with the Texans, 49ers and Jets in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, by dropping a 19-7 game to the Chicago Bears. I swear the Texans are throwing games though. This is two weeks in a row now that they've blown games in the last minute. I'd feel a lot better if Houston was 3-9 instead of 1-11 right now. I also don't like this game against Detroit this weekend for the Packers. Even as injury-riddled as they are, I don't think they can manage to lose to Jeff Garthia. Baltimore, Chicago and Seattle are more than doable. They just have to get through this weekend. I don't see it happening.

Just a note, I will never root for the Packers to lose, but the thought of Reggie Bush in the green and gold makes these losses so much easier to take, after they got that pesky "Only team in the salary cap era to not have a losing season" title off their mantle. I am rooting hardcore for Houston, the Jets and San Fran though. It's not fun having your teams go 0-4 every weekend. Luckily Houston and the 49ers play each other the last weekend of the season in a game that neither team will want to win. That one could be akin to Calvin and Hobbes playing tackle football. "Whoops! Fumble!" "Whoops! Fumble!" "Whoops! Fumble!"

Remaining schedules:
Green Bay: Detroit, at Baltimore (this is a Monday Night game...can't wait for those promos!), Chicago, Seattle. Fine time to get 3 of the last 4 at home.
Houston: at Tennessee, Arizona, Jacksonville, at San Francisco (None of these games aren't winnable, which is a very good thing).
New York Jets: Oakland, at Miami, New England, Buffalo (3 of 4 at home, only the New England game is probably not winnable)
San Fran: at Seattle, at Jacksonville, at St. Louis, Houston (They've gotta be in the driver's seat for the #1 pick. 3 road games in a row? Thanks NFL.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I Love the Rockbiter




Monday, November 28, 2005

Wheldon's Gone? What the Hell?

I pull up the IRL webpage today after my last post in the midst of enjoying having the internet once again, and I see this: "Ganassi Overhaul for 06: Wheldon, Dixon will drive Dallara powered Hondas".
My reaction: No big deal, Honda's got a great engi.....WHEN THE HELL DID THEY SIGN DAN WHELDON!!!!!

The story just glosses over it. Ganassi announced it at a press conference today apparently, but there's nothing about how the IndyCar Champ just left the most powerful team in the sport, for a rival. No reaction from Michael Andretti about who they might fill his spot with, no reaction from Wheldon about how this got done. It just seems like it was expected to happen.

They'll probably add a fourth driver to the team. I'm hoping they'll up Herta's role in the team to more of an equal partner rather than a testing specialist. Franchitti's still my pick to win it all next year.

Holy crap though.

Back From The Ville

I'm back from Louisville and ready to comment on what was an extremely disappointing week and a half.

Every year, I look forward to two games above everything else. Michigan/OSU football and Michigan/Minnesota hockey. And as has been the case pretty much every year as of late, both teams just grabbed their ankles and took it up the tailpipe.

I'm sure football has been hashed over time and time again, so I'm not really going to comment on it. Same old stuff we've dealt with for the rest of the season. Can't run the ball, passing game is erratic, defense plays pretty decently overall but can't quite seal the deal. Hands up, who else loved the bend-but-don't-break when a field goal wins the game. I know I did.

In hockey, the Wolverines came out of their bye week for two huge games: One against a team that they needed to get a win against to get the monkey off their back, and a game that would be #1/#2. They flopped in both.

The Minnesota game was just an embarassment. It's embarassing to go 1/11 on the power play when you have that many 5 on 3s. It's embarassing to give up 5 power play goals. It's embarassing that on the last shift of the game, Minnesota was going for 7 and the Wolverines were standing around watching them try to rub it in.

Sauer had one of those type of games like Al Montoya did in the regional against CC. Hard to fault him for the goals (apart from Kessel's first I've been told, by someone who had a much better view than I did) but you'd sure like to see him make some of those stops.

Tim Cook is an absolute pussy. For a kid that big to continually refuse to use his size...ugh! I understand that not everyone is going to be Jack Johnson and just go around killing people, but when I see a Minnesota player cutting to the middle of the ice with his head down, and Cook just lightly taps him, it absolutely infuriates me. On one of the power plays down in our end, he was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Like he knew he was supposed to keep moving, but he really didn't have a clue where he was supposed to be. The Gophers didn't score (right then anyway) but they made about 4 tic-tack-toe passes around Cookie, with him a second late on all of them.

I think it's a pretty much consensus opinion at this point that Tyler Swystun is useless. I know the book on him was that he needed another year of seasoning to become the player that he's projected to be. But as I said on the Yost Post, he needs to show something. Some sign that he's got a future playing hockey. Because right now all he does is take up space on the first power play unit, get minuses, and take dumb penalties (Martin Lapointe would've been proud of him this weekend).

On the bright side, both Tim Miller and Brandon Naurato have been outstanding lately. Miller has points in 3 of 4 games and Naurato is on a 3 game goal-scoring and 4 game point streak. Naurato is kind of being Kal, since Kal can't be Kal. He's got a great shot, but that's not how he's scoring. He's been getting the ugly goals, and we need someone to do that.

Kal's hurt. I imagine that's part of the reason that he's been ineffective this year. Hopefully he can come back healthy and start making a positive impact.

This weekend was a nice measuring stick. We knew this team wasn't the best team in the country and they ended up just taking the lumps that we thought they'd take a little bit more often in the early-going this season. Minnesota is the better team, but they aren't as much better than Michigan as they showed the other night. 5 on 5 was pretty close, and Michigan's special teams had an off-night (they've been at the top all year). Things kind of snowballed from there. But they were all over the Gophers at times. I didn't watch that game and get the sense that Michigan was completely over-matched. They need to watch the back corner of the net on the PK though. RyPo was wide open every time, and they had that problem a couple times against Wiscy, though it didn't bite them.

I forgot how big Ryan Stoa is. Him and Wheeler are both huge. I thought Briggs looked pretty shaky in their net.

Minnesota has Michigan's number and it showed. A lot of bad breaks went against Michigan (pucks narrowly going in vs. narrowly missing, guys losing their sticks on PKs) and that's what happens when you're snake-bit against a team. Hopefully the Hockey Gods will be more kind in the future.

Oh, and McInchak sucks. I'm not blaming him for losing 6-3 (especially since we had our opportunities on the PP and didn't cash in) by any means, but that guy is an awful awful ref. Two no-calls that jump right to mind (and both went our way, for the record) were that Jack Johnson had about the most blatant charge I've ever seen in the first period and Andrew Ebbett creamed a guy from behind into the board and got 2 minutes for roughing or something. Johnson took about 5 strides before just murdering one of the Gopher dmen and it didn't get called. Not sure what Jack was thinking there...maybe he just needed to do something to get the crowd and his team fired up after they got down 4-1, but that was blatant. What a hit though! Ebbett's hit was worse than probably 75% of the ejections I've seen this year, and he gets two for it. Unreal.

Against Wisconsin, I thought the effort was a lot better. Wiscy is a completely different team from Minnesota, and to fight back from 2 goals down against them was impressive. Johnson and Hunwick got caught and it led to the last goal. They need to tone it back just a bit (or they need to split the two of them up) because they've been a little bit too much Danny Richmond lately. As good offensively as they've been this year, they need to realize that they're still defensemen first and foremost.

As much as it sucks to get swept in the Showcase (again), I came away feeling like we can play against both of those teams. People keep saying that Wiscy is the best team in the nation, and if that is the case (I've only seen em once) then we're not too far off from where we need to be. This was a young team getting beat by two teams who are better than them at this point. I think we're right there at the end of the year though.

The Packers lost another tough one, this time by 5 points to the Eagles. That makes 7 of their nine losses that have been by a TD or less. This time the culprit was 2 fumbled kickoffs (one by the 6th string WR, and one by the 6th string RB) and another fumble by the 5th string RB, Gado, who looks like he might actually end up being a player. He's got 5 TDs and 2 100 yard games in 4 efforts and also has the 3 highest rushing totals by a Packer RB this year.

This season is just becoming comical at the way they're finding to lose. I still say they're not that far off and one great offseason can have them right back in contention. Especially if that offseason includes Reggie Bush. The Lions are firing Mariucci today and I have to believe he ends up in either Green Bay or East Lansing. If they axe Sherman, I really think GB could do a lot worse than Mariucci. Especially if they can keep Jim Bates as DC. Plus it'd almost definitely mean that Favre would be back.

With that Packers loss, it assures them their first losing season since 1991, and they also become the last team in the NFL to have a losing season in the salary cap era. So in honor of 13 years of great football, I close with my 5 favorite plays of this era in Packers football:

5. Favre to Kitrick Taylor gets everything started. Earlier in the day, I had been crying when I heard that my favorite player (Majik) had screwed up his ankle (I was 9, ok???!!). I ended the day by jumping around like crazy and wondering who the hell this Favre guy was!

4. Wayne Simmons and Craig Newsome combine to get that playoff game with the 49ers started off right. Probably the best upset of this team's run.

3. Favre to Sterling Sharpe to kickoff this team's run with a last-second playoff victory over the Lions (not to mention it gave me bragging rights over my whole school! God I loved wearing my Favre jersey to class after that one!)

2. Desmond Howard's runback to seal the Super Bowl. His entire season was just amazing to see. Way to go, Michigan man!!

1. Favre to Rison on the second offensive play of the Super Bowl. 54 yard TD and Favre runs off the field with his helmet in his hand, jumping all over the place.

Honorable mention to Josh McCown and Nathan Poole. While it wasn't really a Packers game, it would rank probably #3 on this list in terms of excitement. "TOUCHDOWN!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The Cardinals have knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs!!!"~Minnesota radio

Other honorable mentions to Favre's backhanded TD pass to Freeman vs. Seattle, the falling down 2 handed push to Dorsey Levens vs. Carolina in the playoffs, the Hail Mary to Freeman against the Bears where he jumped over the guys back, every throw Favre made against Oakland after his father died, Robert Brooks's 99 yard TD pass, Ahman's long TD run against Denver, Reggie White's 3 sacks against NE, Desmond's two long runbacks against SF in the playoffs, Levens' leaping TD grab vs. Carolina in the playoffs, that TD catch Edgar Bennett had against I believe Tampa Bay where he laid completely out for the ball, and the play in the snow against the Lions where Sharpe thought he was in the endzone (he wasn't) and the guy hit him from behind, he fumbled and the ball bounced right back into his hands for the score.

War this being a quick turnaround for the Pack and Favre playing another couple of seasons.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Michigan Hockey 1st Quarter Player-By-Player Grades

Overall the team gets an A. No one expected a 9-1-1 start to this season and I sure as hell didn't think the special teams were going to be this good, this soon. They aren't the best team in the country, but then again, nobody else has a better claim to the #1 ranking apart from maybe Wisconsin. Michigan has won their games, and other teams haven't. It's that simple, and that's why we're #1.

Now for the player-by-player rankings.

Jack Johnson: A+ I knew the kid was going to be outstanding, but I think he's even exceeded my own expectations. He's phenomenal in both ends of the ice, and for an offensive defenseman, he's really pretty darn responsible in his own end. He's just a sick player, and I look forward to watching him for as long as he wants to stay, and I'll closely follow his NHL career.

Adam Dunlap: Inc. Only dressed once and I don't believe he played a shift.

Matt Hunwick: A- He has really taken a step forward with his offensive game this year, and he's done it without really having it negatively impact his defensive prowess. The only knock is that he has had a few moments where he's gotten beat to the outside (like on the potential game tying goal against BC).

TJ Hensick: A- 19 points in 11 games, and he's even a +6. He's logged some time on the PK and despite the rapid heart rates in the crowd has actually done a decent job. Still too selfish with the puck sometimes.

Jason Dest: C I don't feel like he's improved all that much, if at all. Granted some of this is playing with Tim Cook, but he hasn't been very consistent this year IMO. When he's good, he's pretty darn good, but when he's having a bad game, look out. 1 point and a -5 overall isn't going to get it done.

Andrew Cogliano: B+ 16 points through 11 games, and he could easily have 6-8 more points since it took him a couple games to get one to go in, but he sure had his chances. I knew the book on this kid was that he was uber-fast, but you have to see him in person. I thought he'd have a few more chances in the games on the big ice (didn't notice him much during the Saturday UAF game for sure...though that could've been the camera angle making it tough), but he did notch 1-3--4 in those 4 games. Needs to improve his defense some (Even in the +/- category) and NEEDS TO STOP FREAKING DIVING like a little soccer player. He gets an A/A- without the diving, but it's one of my pet peeves and he does it a lot.

Travis Turnbull: B+ The most pleasant surprise of the team. 9 points and a +6 through 11 games, and I think he's already one of the more reliable two-way players that we have. I wasn't expecting a ton out of the kid, but he's been fun to watch.

Kevin Porter: A Him and Ebbett are the best two-way players on the team. He's the goal scorer while Ebby is the assist guy. Leads the team in goals and is over a point a game. He's been solid the whole year.

Zach MacVoy: C He's been pretty good when he's been in there, but his skating is still holding him back, as I'm sure it's the reason he didn't see the ice against BC, or on the Olympic sheets. I do like him though, and when they need a more physical guy, he'll get his chance and fair pretty well.

Brandon Kaleniecki: C+ Two goals, three points, and a -2 just isn't going to get it done, captain. He does things well that don't show up on the score sheet, but he needs to produce more on the offensive end. He isn't going to lead this team in goals again, and I don't expect that, but he needs to score more than 6-8 goals this year.

David Rohlfs: B I haven't noticed him, and that's not a bad thing for a defenseman. Especially one that is still learning the position. I think he could probably produce a little more offensively from back on the blueline, being a converted forward and all, but then again, we've got plenty of offense from our blueline with Johnson and Hunwick. Him and Mitera make for an imposing duo.

Mark Mitera: B+ One of the unsung heroes of the first quarter. He's not flashy like Johnson, and despite his size isn't going to kill people like Jack, but he's just been solid, solid, solid. Very good at using his feet to deflect pucks and he's been outstanding at giving up his body to block shots.

Tim Miller: B- He's started to come on as of late, and he's probably right on the B/B- border in my eyes. He had a very nice game Saturday night it sounded like, and that was the first time he's really jumped out. 4 assists, and he's a +4, but he sure hasn't hurt us out there. He's not going to light up the scoresheet, but he's a solid player and you need guys like him. Hopefully he keeps up the improvement.

Andrew Ebbett: B Took him a little while to get it going, but he's been pretty good overall. He's on pace for very similar offensive numbers to his sophomore and junior years, but he needs to not be on the minus side of things defensively. There probably aren't many (if any) penalty killers out there who are better than this guy though. I forget what game it was (MSU maybe?) where he killed off a full minute by himself. It was unreal. He's a big reason the PK has been so great this year.

Tyler Swystun: C- I wasn't expecting much out of him since the book was that he probably needed another year of seasoning, which is why he gets a C- instead of a lower grade. I can live with him not scoring, since he's had a few chances, but -8 in limited icetime? Yikes.

Jason Bailey: C+ I just haven't seen the kid that I saw at USA just yet. With the NTDP he was all over the ice, pinballing off of people. He seemed pretty good in his own end, but again he's one of the worst +/-s on the team (I know that stat doesn't show everything, but it's alright comparing guys on the same team). He reminded me of a Mike Brown type, and thusfar that's kind of what he's been. Which isn't necessarily a good thing. I still think he's going to have a very nice career here.

Brandon Naurato: B- I'm not quite sure what to make of him yet. He's defnitely got a great shot, and yet the two goals he netted this weekend were both floaters that should have been stopped. Still though, 5 points in 8 games is pretty good for a guy that wasn't really expected to see the ice much.

Chad Kolarik: B- Absolutely invisible up til a couple weeks ago, but he's really turned it on as of late. If the first few weeks was just a fluke/slump (and I think it was), he'll probably be up in the A-/B+ range by the end of the season. Kid's a player.

Tim Cook: D+ Dear God. I want to like this kid. I really really do. In the first couple of games he was jumping up into the play, he was solid in his own end. But there hasn't been much of that lately. Still no points, he's a -4, he probably is dragging Dest down somewhat. He gets beat to the outside, he had a beautiful fall/backflip combo at ND that led to a goal. He doesn't use his size. If all our defensemen hang around, he won't be playing at all next year.

Danny Fardig: B+ If Turnbull isn't the most pleasant surprise then this kid probably is. He's just all out effort, every shift he's out there. He gives up his body on the PK, he blocks shots. I love Digger.

Mike Mayhew: Inc 3 saves in 10 minutes.

Noah Ruden: B He's been a solid backup, and came in and pitched a shutout (with the help of his pipes) at UAF when Sauer was really struggling. This is Sauer's job though. I think Rudy gets the occasional start the rest of the season, and they'll throw him in there when Billy needs a break or if he needs to calm down for a game, but Sauer is the guy.

Billy Sauer: B+ I'm not sure we could have expected much more out of this guy. He's already shown the capability to be a big game goalie (he was outstanding against BC and MSU). He won a game for us at NMU Saturday night. And he's been pretty darn solid the entire way, with the exception of the UAF game, which I'm willing to chalk up to him not knowing the angles. He fixed that real quick. He has the tendancy to give up some big rebounds and some soft goals, but not as many bad ones as Al gave up last year. He's incredibly athletic, great side to side, great along the ice, and he's outstanding at finding the puck through traffic. He needs to improve his puckhandling, because it's just atrocious, but to his credit he doesn't attempt to do it very often. IMO he won the starting job with his performances the last two weekends (paired with his great performances vs. MSU and BC). He's not as good as Al was his freshman and sophomore seasons (but that's a ridiculous standard to hold the kid to), but Billy definitely has been better than Junior-year Al to this point. I think we have an upgrade in goal over last season.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We're Gonna Be #1 Again....

Don't look now, but the Michigan Wolverines are probably headed back to being #1 again. They swept a series on the road against the Northern Michigan Wildcats, and paired with a one-point weekend for Colorado College, Cornell getting smoked by Darmouth, and Maine losing to New Hampshire, it looks like the Maize and Blue are headed back to the top of the rankings, just in time to see Wisconsin and Minnesota come to town. Our only hope is that the voters like what they saw out of Wisconsin, taking 3 of 4 points from CC, and move them over us up to #1.

I didn't get to listen to very much of the 3-1 victory on Friday night, as I was working the Michigan volleyball game, but it sounds as if Billy Sauer had an excellent night. He earned himself another start on Saturday and by several accounts was the difference in the 4-3 overtime win. The NMU homers didn't make him a star of the game, but WTKA gave him the third star. Brandon Naurato was the obvious choice for #1 (with 2 goals including the game winner) but NMU gave it to Contois. Apparently both goals Naurato scored were of the "You'd like to have that one back" variety, but if you shoot the puck on net, good things happen.

It sounded like Sauer was outstanding once again, stopping at least 3 breakaways. It's a little disturbing to me, though, that there were so many quality chances for the Wildcats. Part of that is probably the big ice again, but we've hung our goalie out to dry plenty of times on the small ice too.

We had two more players ejected for hits from behind, thankfully neither was given a game DQ, so both Turnbull and Bailey can play against Minnesota. Porter continues to play well, and Kolarik netted another goal this weekend. The Wolverines' power play scored in both games, and they've now scored a PPG in all 11 games to start the season.

They now get a week off before a crucial weekend against Minnesota and Wisconsin, which I imagine has some severe Pairwise implications. The Gophers have been a pretty schizo team so far this season, but Wisconsin has been rolling as of late. It should be a pretty fun weekend. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the next 2 weeks--which will include a trip to Kentucky--before they faceoff.

The Wolverines now stand alone at the top of the CCHA standings with 11 points, following Miami's loss to LSSU. Ohio State is a surprising last place, and it's not due to them having played less games, because they've played 6 in conference already. You've gotta think that they've already kissed their conference championship hopes goodbye. They've lost 4 games already, and Michigan only lost 3 CCHA games all of last year. Granted the Wolverines set a record for points in the conference, but short of running the table, I think Ohio State might have already played themselves out of the race for the regular season championship at this early date.

Michigan football had--as Brian would call it--a "functional DNP" against Indiana this weekend that was never really in doubt. Indiana scored on their opening drive and then--as I predicted in the crowd--didn't come close the rest of the game (until the scrubs came in). Gotta love that first drive defense...give up 80 yards on the first drive, then about 80 the rest of the game.

From the crowd, it seemed like Henne was pretty on the ball. He missed on a couple of throws for sure, but you're not going to hit on every single one. He was pretty close to perfect throwing the outs and the timing routes and had several throws that were just gorgeous. Apart from maybe the first half against MSU, that was the closest he's been this season to the Henne from last year. Grady did a nice job running, in limited opportunities and Breaston went 2005 Rose Bowl on the Hoosiers, though no one can figure out why he cut that punt return back to the east side of the field when he had a clear path to the endzone. I feel like there was one other time when he cut the wrong way or he would've been gone.

The second half was uber-boring and I paid attention for all of about 3 plays, but in the first half it was nice to see the Wolverines open the playbook, giving OSU a lot of looks to think about. You gotta believe that they're cooking something up for Antonio Bass next week. I'm not sure what it is, but they're planning something. I wondered aloud when we might see the throwback to Henne, since it hadn't come out yet this year, and darn if they didn't run it about 5 minutes later. Breaston made a terrible throw, or Henne had a LOT of running room. Gotta love that play.

I always say that if I could pick any team that I root for to win a championship, it'd be Michigan hockey. And a big part of that is because I'm in Ann Arbor, I go to every game, and if they win a title, I'd be there. It'd be incredible. But today taught me that the team I care about most is still the Green Bay Packers. The injuries have been a big joke to me, since there's no team in the league that could overcome what the Packers have gone through and they've pretty much derailed at least a decent football team. That being said, every loss this season has just made me ache. I hate watching them be 1-7, and I can't imagine what everyone went through in the 70s and 80s watching this every year, because it just makes me hurt.

Today felt great though. What a performance out of this team. I think it converted a lot of people back onto the "Don't fire Mike Sherman" side of the fence, because there aren't a whole lot of teams in this position who would come out with the effort that this team came out with (and has come out with every game this year). They fight for every game, even though their playoff hopes have been all but over for 2 or 3 weeks.

Jim Bates has done absolute wonders for that defense. They held the NFL's #1 rush offense to 133 yards on the ground, which is 50 yards below their average and they never trailed in a game that they were probably close to double digit underdogs in. The knock against the defense all year has been the lack of turnovers, but they came up with 3 fumble recoveries today and put the offense in good field position a couple of times. Nick Barnett had his best game of the year. Brady Poppinga has a ton of speed and Thornberg was a heckuva pickup for the special teams. Those two just prove Fisher DeBerry wrong. I can't say this enough: No matter what happens in the offseason, Green Bay has to find a way to keep Bates. He's an absolute miracle worker and I can't wait to see what he can do with a few more pieces.

Samkon Gado. What can you say about that kid. He rushes for 100+ yards and scores 3 times in his first start? Yikes. I still don't know that he's a starting-caliber running back, but he definitely can play in this league. The line looked much better with Wells in there for Klemm. I wonder why they didn't pull the trigger on that move sooner.

Basically at this point, you're just looking at positives for next season. I think they've definitely found one in Gado. Antonio Chatman has proven that he can be a pretty darn capable slot receiver. And they're getting a lot of looks at some good young defensive players that will make an impact on this team in the future. They dressed 13 rookies today. If you're going to have a season that has this much go wrong, then at least a lot of youngsters are getting valuable live-game experience. 4 games down in the division with 7 games to go is probably too much to overcome, but I guess crazier things have happened, especially when they get to play the division-leading Bears twice still.

Overall though, I'm just going to enjoy the ride and hope this isn't the last I'm going to see of Brett Favre, because he deserves to go out on a better note than this, and I really feel that they could be right back in contention next year. This guy makes a really good case for why Favre should actually be the MVP right now. He changed the headline of the article and toned it down a bit, but the point he makes rings true. The guy is doing it with a CFL team around him. They showed a lot of heart today, and they showed everyone that they're not the laughing-stock that their record would indicate.

Oh. And Kurt Busch is a douche bag. He got cited for reckless driving outside Phoenix Speedway Friday night and Roush racing suspended him for the rest of the season because of his confrontation with the officer that pulled him over (and probably the fact that there was at least some alcohol involved, and he's damn lucky the Breathalyzer broke). Since Busch is joining Penske Racing South next year, that officially ends his time with Roush. "We're officially retiring as Kurt Busch's apologists effective today"?? That was in the Roush Racing press statement? Yeah, I'm sure they're sorry to see him leave the team next year. That's a ballsy move out of Jack Roush, since Busch was one of the Chase For the Cup drivers. Even though he was pretty much out of contention for the title, that's still quite a bit of money he's leaving on the table by taking him out of the car. Kudos to him for making that move. Now if he'd do something about his other prick of a driver, Biffle.

And Tony Stewart is gonna win the title again. Yippee. He seems to be less of a prick this year, and honestly, I'd probably rather see him win it than Busch or Biffle, but I hate seeing that guy do well. Hopefully Jimmie Johnson can pull something out, but if Stewart even lands a Top Ten at Homestead, I think he has it locked up.

And next weekend there's a 500 mile go kart race in Brazil that guys like Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta will be driving in. I'd love to see that on TV somewhere. Last year, Kanaan, Wheldon, Felippe Giaffone and Rubens Barrichello won the race. I'm sure all the amateurs that were racing just loved seeing three IndyCar veterans and one of the premiere F1 drivers racing on the same team. Can't wait to see how that one turns out. Hopefully Speed will cover some of it, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Brian Lebler Goes Blue

Brian Lebler, long thought to be headed to the Badgers, committed to the Wolverines today, and will likely sign a letter of intent tomorrow according to this thread on The Wolverine. He's not putting real big numbers (especially for being in the BCHL) but he's a big, big forward (6'2" 205 right now) who apparently has some scoring ability. He's also faired pretty well on the power play last year (10 ppgs) and this year (6 so far). He should fit in with the bigger team that Red is trying to put out there now. It's nice that Michigan was able to steal away a recruit from the Badgers, and as MaizeOut pointed out, if he signs tomorrow he won't have time to Benedict Earl us.

Andy Hilbert's rights were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 5th round pick. This is a move that I wish the Wings had made (and I said it at least 2 months ago when he said he wanted to be traded). I know they're close to the cap, but to land a prospect like Andy for a 5th round pick is a pretty good gamble. And I'd rather see Andy on the roster than a guy like Mark Mowers who really doesn't do anything for me. Hilbert put up numbers in the AHL last year that were right up there with the likes of Spezza, Cammalleri, and Vanek who are all fairing pretty well on the NHL level this year.

Michigan hockey completed the sweep of Notre Dame with a 4-2 win Saturday night at Yost. I missed the first 18 minutes of the first period (Michigan volleyball duties), so I missed both goals that Sauer allowed. I heard one was extremely weak, but Billy played very well the rest of the game. I think he had something like 17 saves in the third period, which is unacceptable for the defense to be giving up that many shots. Mel Pearson said on WTKA that he thought the fatigue from the previous week's trip to UAF caught up with them and it would probably be another couple days before they were back to normal. Kolarik added a pair of goals and it looks like he's out of his slump. Cogliano netted himself a CCHA Rookie of the Week award with 3-3--6 over the two games. He's now the leading freshman point getter in the country, with Jack Johnson right behind him at #2 (they also are 1-2 in ppg for freshmen).

The additions of Johnson and Cogliano have done absolute wonders for the powerplay, which currently sits at #1 in the nation at 33.3% (24 of 72). Qunnipiac has the 2nd most ppgs with 18, but they've also had 15 more powerplays. The PK is also a very solid 91.7%, good for 4th in the country.

Sterling Sharpe was on the Jim Rome show yesterday and his interview made me want to puke my guts out. He got up on his high horse about Terrell Owens, saying that at some point the player has to realize that the team is more important than individual things like money. Sterling. You jackass. You are the last person who should be criticizing players for being selfish. Mr. Sharpe, back in 1994, threatened on the eve of the first game to not show up the next day if Green Bay did not make him the highest paid WR in the league by $1. And now he's going to criticize Terrell Owens for threatening a holdout and basically just being a jackass? Please.

Lebda is back with the Red Wings, and Howard was sent back to Grand Rapids--a good sign, because that means that Legace is back and I don't have to watch Osgood anymore. Lebda has been a very pleasant surprise, and I'm hoping that means less of Jamie Rivers (or failing that, Lilja). Actually, I take that back about Lilja. He hasn't impressed me much, but the guy does lead the team in +/- and that has to account for something. That's shocking actually. I'm pretty much stunned to see that. He would've been my bet as one of the few guys on the team with a minus. It'd be nice to see Woolley back healthy as well. He's been very solid since he was resigned, before he was hurt.

The Packers lost again. And once again it was the little things that beat them. Favre gets killed and the Steelers get a scoop-and-score off it instead of it being a GB field goal. There's the 10 point margin of victory. Longwell shanked a field goal (thankfully he blamed the wind, and not his holder this time. How bout "I just missed the kick" for once, Ryan) and Driver dropped a pass that was right in his hands and would've been a first down. Instead the Steelers get a pick off it and it sets up a TD. 3 plays, and that's the difference between a 10 point win and a 10 point loss.

And the injuries just keep getting worse and worse. Tony Fisher is now out with a broken rib, pretty much leaving the starting job to Samkon Gado. Apparently he was 3rd string on his college team last year. Amazingly, he actually looked pretty decent against the Steelers great defense and set a season high for yards by a Packers RB (62. That's pathetic that that's the high).

I still say this team is a helluva lot better than their record. And they keep fighting, which is more than I can say for a lot of teams out there that have already mailed it in it seems. It's not going to get much better this season, but there's still plenty of talent there, and plenty of money in the offseason to fix some holes.

I can't say enough about the defense though. They're now ranked 9th in the NFL in yards given up per game, tied for 10th in yards given up per play, and a respectable 18th in ppg given up. The only thing that's lacking is turnovers created, which is only 10 through 8 games. That'll come with more playmakers on the field, however. For a makeshift defense, 9th in the league in yards is just amazing.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hockey and a Women's Soccer Miracle

Hockey beat Notre Dame 8-5 last night, but the game was much closer than the score as Notre Dame closed to 6-5 with a few minutes remaining in regulation before Cogliano netted 2 to seal it. Now, I don't get CSTV so I didn't get to see the game--and I only got to listen to the last 10 minutes--but I'm kind of confused as to why Ruden got the start. I know he had a shutout against UAF, but the Nanooks hit 4 goalposts, and with a couple bounces going against him he could've gotten shelled as bad as Sauer did. I understand starting Rudy up in Fairbanks as Sauer hadn't gotten to practice on big ice, but why come back with Ruden last night?? Sauer's young, he needs road experience, and Notre Dame isn't an overly tough place to play. I'm sure we'll see Billy back between the pipes tonight.

It was nice to see Kolarik break out of his slump with a goal and an assist last night. He had about 6 goals against ND last year, so this was a good team for him to be playing against. Naurato and Bailey got their firsts as Wolverines as well. Our powerplay is humming along with 4 more PPGs last night, and Al and Jim were talking about how that raised our PP % up to something like 32%. I gotta believe a lot of that is due to the presence of Jack Johnson back on the point (and Matt Hunwick's improvement). I've said many times we haven't had a shot like Jack's back on the PP since Komo left, and it looks like the power play #s are starting to indicate that. Cogliano also looks like he's comfortable in college hockey now. The first few games he had chances and just couldn't get any to go, but since then he's been lights out. He's got 6 goals and 7 assists on the year now. Turnbull continues to be a pleasant surprise, and Porter looks like he's continued his great season.

Maybe someone who saw the game can indicate if the score was Ruden being a sieve or the defense sucking. Based on his prior performance at ND and the high shot total, I'd say it was probably a combination of both. I really don't like that we gave up 5 goals to that team though. I know they're probably much improved over last year, but that's a team that scored 7 in 6 games against us last year. No reason to give up 5 to them.

The Wings 9 game winning streak came to a close against Edmonton (shut up Brian). Nothing like putting Chris Osgood in to cure a franchise-record winning streak. Again, didn't see the game, but I've heard that 3 of the 4 that he let in were just brutal but that he also made some huge stops to get the game to OT. To which I say: Yup, that's Chris Osgood. Maddeningly bad sometimes, brilliant other times. I've always said that when he's completely on his game there aren't a whole lot of goalies better than him. It's just that he's rarely completely on his game, and in the meantime you get a mix of great saves and goals that even junior-year Al Montoya could have stopped. Jason Williams now has 18 points. Unreal.

An interesting thing happened yesterday when I pulled up There were three stories on their front page that were Green Bay-related. Roethlisberger isn't playing against them Sunday, so we get the return of Charlie Batch, hooray! Terrell Owens said that Philly would be undefeated if Favre was QBing them, throwing McNabb under the bus again in the process. And that Favre said if Sherman is fired, he's probably leaving too because he'd have to learn a new system and whatnot.

Favre needs to hang around 1 more season after this one. He'll break the TD pass record if he stays healthy and he'll have a shot at breaking Elway's wins by a QB record (I think he needs 12 more). Not to mention that this team is set up pretty nicely to make a run next year if they can add a few pieces. And if the team keeps struggling and lands the #1 draft pick, having Favre, Reggie Bush and Javon Walker on the same offense...yikes. They're going to have a ton of cap room to help out in areas of need as well. There have been worse teams than this one make the turnaround in one year. They're 1-6, but they've lost 6 games by 30 points and 5 games by a total of 16 points. They aren't nearly as bad as their record indicates, especially considering all the talent they're missing right now because on a rash of injuries like I've never seen. Talk is now that Tony Fisher and Antonio Chatman might not play Sunday, so they'd be missing all 3 of their RBs and their 1, 3, 4, 5 WRs. Awesome. I guess that's still better than starting Charlie Batch or Joey Harrington.

On talk radio this week, there's been a ton of chatter about how if the Packers keep struggling they need to put in Aaron Rodgers to get him some snaps, to which I say "Bunk!" There's a few reasons you don't sit Favre down:

#1) He's Brett freaking Favre! It's one thing if he's out there playing with a Paul Coffey-sized fork sticking out of his back, but he's not. 2 years ago he led the NFL in TD passes, and probably should've won his 4th MVP (but they gave it to Gannon...good call). Last year, I believe he set a career high in completion percentage. And this year, going into last week's games he was leading the league in TDs AGAIN. He's the only thing this offense has going for it. Oh yeah, and he's a freakin' legend that you don't bench.

#2) If they put Rodgers out there with Tony Fisher in the backfield and Donald Lee and David Martin to throw to, what would they expect to happen? He'd look awful. They'd kill his confidence before he had a legit shot to do anything. Look at JP Losman in Buffalo, and that guy has McGahee, Moulds, and Reed out there.

The idea of sitting Favre down is completely idiotic. It might be nice to get Rodgers into some games late in the season, just to get an idea if he's got anything so that if you land the #1 pick at Matt Leinart is sitting there....well..ya know. But they're not benching Favre, and they shouldn't. This team would be lucky to score 50 points the rest of the season if Favre was on the bench/hurt. If you can't run the ball (and they can't, and they couldn't even with Ahman Green) and you've got a rookie QB out there, what the heck do you think is going to happen?

Back to college hockey, a week after sweeping Ohio State, Western Michigan lost 10-0 to LSSU at home! Bellissimo got yanked and the guy they put in gave up 4 goals on 6 shots. Ouch. How bad do those Buckeyes look right now? They lost to Miami 3-1 last night to cap it off. They're looking very Purdue-footballesque right now at 1-3-1 in the CCHA and having only played Western, Miami and BGSU. Probably not the start they were looking for.

To women's soccer: Michigan pulled off an unbelievable upset in the first round of the B10 women's soccer tournament, knocking off unbeaten, untied, and #1 ranked Penn State in penalty kicks. The game goes down as a tie, because it made it through both overtimes tied, but for the Wolverines to pull that off is just incredible after they gave up the tying goal with 20 seconds left in regulation on a penalty kick. They went on to beat Illinois 2-1 last night to earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. The game features the 7 and 8 seeds in an 8 team tournament. Whodathunkit. Wisconsin is on fire right now, and Michigan lost their second best player--Therese Heaton--with what appeared to be a torn ACL. Should be an interesting game tomorrow. Hopefully the maize and blue will pull it out and make it back to the NCAA tournament.

Stones 2-0, Rip? Not nice!